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Day 7 – Moffat to Perth

In Cycling most of Land's End to John O'Groats | 28 Apr 2023 | cycling

I was supposed to get a soaking today but didn’t!

Started off at 7:30am, a little late because I was slow getting ready and had an interesting chat with another guy at the hostel who is working as a commercial diver to repair a local water reservoir. His work is at 35m and at that depth he has about 10 minutes bottom time on each dive to work. The weather was drizzling slightly as I finally started off, but not enough for over-trousers (pants — am I writing in English or American?).

Pastures with dark cloud above

Dark heavy cloud but sun on the far hills

Very nice roads following the same valley as the A74(M) again. Over some hills of managed forest which seems to be mostly spruce with a little latch. Little wind and gradually brightening for the first 20 or 30 miles. At some point my route veered east from the motorway and continued across gently rolling farmland, mostly sheep but some arable.

Stopped for (second) breakfast at a little bakery around 36 miles in and had a rather good steak and haggis pie. Saw this fun house shortly after.

Round house

Round house perhaps recently relabeled “Hagrid’s House”?

I was a little impatient to get to the Forth Bridge but that was still a ways away. Frustratingly more so when I got to a road closed sign and had to take a few miles of detour. Doubly frustrating when I managed to pick a road to a genuine dead-end town (well, cluster of houses) and had to backtrack, extending the detour!

Eventually, a sign welcomed me to Edinburgh. Turns out it was still quite a ways from there and many good but confusing cycle paths through a mix of housing developments that ranged from quite cute to very depressing looking (leading to dystopian thoughts of battery farming humans).

"Welcome to Edinburgh" signs

Very welcomed to Edinburgh, feels almost rude that I was just skirting the city

At last I started up the excellent bike lane on the east side of the old Forth road bridge. Brutal looking rail bridge to the east and elegant new road bridge to the west.

Firth of Forth railway bridge

Firth of Forth railway bridge

Bike and walking lanes across the middle Firth of Forth bridge

Bike and walking lanes across the middle Firth of Forth bridge

New Forth bridge

Looking west to the elegant wires supporting the new Firth of Forth road bridge

The route did a great job of not becoming embroiled in the city of Edinburgh but there were many miles of complicated cycle paths through housing developments where roundabouts are very popular. Easy but slow going.

Out into farmland again, a feeling of freedom. Still plenty of sheep but also other things including oilseed rape which I still can’t stand the smell of. Watching the hedgerows got me to thinking of a tree demographics issue. This is separate from the long bemoaned loss of hedgerows. But, all along my ride I’ve seen beautiful big trees in hedgerows and dotted about fields, ranging from the stately to the gnarled. Oaks, beeches, horse chestnuts - all probably more than a hundred years old. But where are the 20, 40, 60 year old trees to replace them? I haven’t seen many of those.

At some point there was a set of climbs up into managed forest again, including an outcrop of basalt columns to remind me the Scotland is a place of old hard rock.

Basalt columns

A little set of rock columns, I assume basalt

I stumbled upon a lovely looking espresso shop in Kinross, “Unorthodox Roasters”, that I’m pleased to report did excellent espresso and fine carrot cake too. They said I was their first south-to-north customer of the year, they’d just had someone going north-to-south come in a couple of days ago. I noted that yesterday, going south would have been hard with the south wind, but today that direction had the advantage.

Just 16 miles from Kinross to Perth, time to just crank the remaining miles out. The route followed generally nice roads with 2 hills that rated according to my bike computer. For quite a while the roads a had a new-to-me set of signs advertising cycle and walker friendly roads. I’m not sure what that meant beyond a reduced speed limit (40 mph) and some good intention, but I like the idea. I did go a wee bit over that speed limit on a glorious descent as I neared Perth 😉

River Tay with Perth city centre behind

The River Tay with Perth city centre behind

Guest house with phone box

My guest house with an old phone box serving as a book exchange outside — a common repurposing that I’ve seen all along my route

Today was supposed to be a bit under a century but ended up as 104 miles with 5,800 feet of elevation gain. 8 hours in the saddle means my pace was a bit slower than usual, 2h 30 stopped was about normal. My host warned me about a wicked steep hill tomorrow. It isn’t quite clear from my plot where the route gets very steep but there is certainly a bigger single hill than anything so far, but overall a gentle 1000 feet in 18 miles (mile 40 to 58; for comparison, Elm St. behind our house gains 1,100 feet in just 4 miles). This is matched by the following 20 miles being mostly downhill. We shall see.

Day 7 route