When I wrote about 6 steep climbs round about here, Jean (https://cyclewriteblog.wordpress.com/) suggested that some photos would have enhanced the blog. At the same time I was trying out an app called footpath, which is great for working out routes for cycling. I decided that I would link them together in a cycle/ photo bonanza. So I managed it, though some of the photos are a bit dodgy as they were taken on the move with the camera slung around my neck. The weather was ideal, warm enough for shorts & short sleeve top, cool enough to not become dehydrated easily. What a ride, some of my favourite climbs here, and when the gradient was less than 10% it was a real bonus. First of all the boring bits for some, the route & profile:
Over 110 feet climbed for every mile
Hill no. 1: Kippielaw
The first hill, not even a mile away, this is short but with a real lurch into the sky at the end. The hill in the distance is Traprain Law with the remains of an Iron Age fort on the top, complete with hut circles and a magnificent view over the Firth of Forth, north up to the Highland and south to the lowland hills.
Hill no. 2: Up into the Beil Estate
After a fabulous colonnade of yew trees you cycle past rhododendrons till another wee steep ramp leads up to the top. Just after this a deer stopped in the road and gazed at my approach for a while before it sauntered off into the woods
Then on and up another a couple of ascents before reaching Pitcox, another good climb (though not one of the chosen) past the water bottling plant. Pitcox is a tiny place, but a couple of 100 years ago it had a religious house where monks from the refectory in Melrose who had misbehaved were sent.
The climb up from Pitcox past Findlay’s Water
Then it was past the Witch’s Stone at Spott, which often has coins left on it. I tried to take a photo but had nudged the dial of the camera on to the wrong setting. Just before this a fox had sauntered across the road in front of me, my day for wildlife?
Hill no.3: Starvation Brae – a local test piece
Then came the climb out of Spott – Starvation Brae, not sure why it is called this though. This one is hard – gradually steepens, then has 3 steep bits to the top. A real heavy breathing one by the top.
Onwards and downwards and upwards and downwards . . . . . . . .
Hill no. 4: The Brunt – east side
Then it was across the ford, luckily dry but the road is a mess, then up The Brunt, another climb leaving you puffing at the top.
One of my favourite sections, a gorgeous half mile through a wooded dell, dappled in the sunshine. Then came the big one, over a mile long with an average gradient of 9%+ and several steep ramps double that.
Hill no. 5: Elmscleugh, the first ramp Hill no. 5: Elmscleugh, looking up to the second steep ramp, climbing at 5-8% here
Hill no. 5: Elmscleugh, a sight I saw a few times Hill no. 5: Elmscleugh, getting near the summit
Hill no. 5: Elmscleugh, the cattle grid at the top usually a good descent now!Hurrah, a lovely swoop back down the other side to look forward to, but:
Roadworks slowed progress, looks like they are putting in a new track for the wind turbines.
Then it was down for a while, this time slowed by gates. After the valley in the distance it would be another undulating climb back over the distant hills. Up beside Whitadder reservoir dam
I was now on the section of the road that the Tour of Britain will come down in September. should be fun!
Whitadder Reservoir, not too many cheering crowds this day.
Another great section with lots of undulations over the moors, I would do this section a couple of times this trip. Many sheep, birds including oyster catchers some way from the sea and cows.
Approaching Redstone Rigg Hill no. 6: Redstone Rigg, another local test piece
So the last of the 6 hills loomed up. This is one spoken of in awe locally, though Elmscleugh is far harder, but being further away from Edinburgh is cycled less. I’ve already booked my place here for the Tour of Britain, fantastic views of the riders coming up from miles away, unfortunately it will probably be mobbed with other cycling fans.
Bog cotton and a butt for grouse shooting at the top of ‘The Rigg’
The wonderful descent with Whiteadder Reservoir in the distance. I went down here at 46 mph, but on a good day have manage 55 so what will the Tour riders be doing? They will have to watch out on the cattle grid in the middle of the descent .
Iron Age Green Castle Fort, with its 3 ring defence
So back down & up & down & up till home, passing a dead badger on the way. Well pleased and satisfied. And for those who still think Central Scotland is flat?