or, The One On the A7
After a terrific breakfast at the Arkale Lodge (I really would recommend it to anyone heading up to Carlisle), I was on the road by 09.40…yay!
It took a while to get out of the city, thanks to a funny one way system and a liberal smattering of traffic lights that seemed intent on changing to red as I approached.
Finally out on the A7 out of Carlisle, I noticed a sign; ‘Edinburgh 95’. Now, my route was meant to take me a more direct ninety miles but…after yesterday’s ‘fun and games’ with local roads and a northerly headwind settling in (so much for seasonal prevailing south westerlies!), I made the decision to main road it all day.
And main road it I did. Practically all of the ninety five miles on the A7! It wasn’t easy, mind. There’s not that many settlements on the Scottish side of the border, and service stations are just as rare – certainly not as many as on English trunk road, so it was a case of taking advantage when I did see them.
And the sun. Oh, the sun. I hope those of you enjoyed your day in it, ‘cos it was unbearable at times on the bike…relentless from above and after midday you could feel it coming back up off the tarmac.
The first ten miles were hard work. Getting into a rythym wasn’t happening and it took a while to get going. After a while it clicked though and I got through to the halfway point just as I hit Hawick.
Apparently the home of cashmere, Hawick is also the proud owner of a big Morrison’s which I decided would do for lunch. I took a good break in the sun, phoning home for a chat and a progress update. I probably took too big a break actually…
…because that climb back out of Hawick would have been tough anyway, but my legs just didn’t want to turn. It took a good distance until I felt properly on my way again.
The A7 is quite pretty as far as main roads go, winding it’s way round the green, green hills and dales (I knew it was worth taking!) but the last twenty miles or so were into a pretty strong headwind as it picked up later on into the day…not something I really needed!
The last five miles will probably go down as the worst five on my trip. Although inside Edinburgh, a ridiculous traffic system sends you round the houses. Terrible road surfaces and cycling into a sun so low I may as well have had my eyes closed I cursed my way to the final point on my Garmin.
Which turned out to not be where I was staying – another mistaken input by me, d’oh. It couldn’t find the place I wanted by its search so it was a slow, painful drag to the right place using my iPhone and google maps for references at random junction stops.
My bed for tonight is courtesy of Caledonian Backpackers, which describes itself as a hostel but is (equipped with a bar, games room and ‘cinema area’) in fact more a cross between Byker Grove and a bunkhouse. I’m sure if you’re here as a group, or for a spell of nights ,it’s wonderful…I’m just hoping I manage to get a reasonable night’s sleep in.
A trip to Somerfield over the road and I picked up some malt loaf and milk for tea. As I re-joined the street littered with drunk revellers (perhaps planning on stopping in Edinburgh on a Saturday night wasn’t the best plan…) it hit me just quite how much I didn’t want to be in a busy city right now!
Wandering down Princes Street with my two pints of strawberry milk, I’ve never felt so out of place. I’m a city boy, give me hustle and bustle any day of the week and I’m usually fine with it…but having had eight days on the road all I want at the moment is a comfy bed for the night!
It was back into the hostel room for the night; still empty, so you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see if my room mates are up to Westward Ho!’s standard, I’m afraid.
Into deeper Scotland and onto Crianlarich tomorrow and back to a ‘real’ SYHA run hostel which is hopefully a damn sight quieter…
Stats for the day
Distance for the day: 95 miles
Time in saddle for the day: 7hrs 14mins
Average speed for the day: 13.1mph
Maximum speed for the day: 37.9mph
Total distance to date: 694 miles
Total time in saddle to date: 51hrs 51mins
Average speed for trip to date: 13.4mph
Planned route for the day…
Route profile for the planned day…