Archive for July, 2009

Cycling day 30: Newtonmore to Westhill, Inverness

Monday, July 27th, 2009

NCR7There were a number of choices of route whilst following NCR7 today; the route splits into several braids. I took the braids that were mainly traffic-free, but this did mean that the distance was slightly longer, there was a little more climbing, and the loose surface slowed me down a bit. I preferred the scenery this way though.

NCR7Whilst cycling through several of the forested parts of today’s route I noticed that many of the trees had what looks like a silver-green fungal growth on them. The portions of the trees with the growth appeared to be dying, so it looks like it’s predatory rather than symbiotic in nature.

One of the things I hadn’t planned for on this trip was the wear to my shoes. The soles of my shoes are wearing quite thin in places now and I’m sure that it’s only a matter of days before a hole forms. So, I’ll be looking out for a place to purchase some new shoes.

Cycling day 29: Aberfeldy to Newtonmore

Friday, July 17th, 2009

NCR7Today’s route followed NCR7 for the whole time. It was essentially a long, but gentle climb upwards to 460m for about 40 miles followed by approximately 20 miles of decent to approximately 250m altitude. The scenery again was stunning. I stopped several times to photograph many of the flowers beside the route.

Daisy HeatherLupinThistle

Cycling day 28: Strathyre to Aberfeldy

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

My journey continued through the superbly picturesque Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park today. First of all I passed through Balquidder, where I discovered an as-yet incomplete link of NCR7 that appears to use the old railway here back southward.

The route follows the railway northward for a short, leaves it, then rejoins it further up after a series of hairpins to climb the steep valley side. There were five Sustrans mileposts along this stretch of cycle route up to Killin and I’ve photographed and logged the positions of them all.

Falls of DochartThe cycle route arrives at Killin practically opposite the attractive Falls of Dochart. I took a short break in Killin for a snack before continuing my journey.

Loch TayNCR7 leaves Killin eastward via a quiet road on the south side of Loch Tay. I’d covered a few miles of this and then experienced my first puncture of this journey. Given that I’d cycled over 1450 miles by this point I’m very pleased that my Marathon Plus tyres are doing their job well. I started to repair this in the rain and the midges decided to start their attack, so out came my repellant. During the repair some hikers came along and chatted to me. They’re walking the Rob Roy Way, which, by their description, seems to roughly follow the route that I’m cycling.

Luckily tonight I’ve got WiFi Internet access again after it being unavailable for several days. So I’ve managed to catch up in posting my blog entries for the last few days and will commit my pending offline map edits shortly.

Cycling day 27: Aberfoyle to Strathyre

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Heavy rain started the day, so I donned my waterproof jacket and trousers. I soon took off my waterproof trousers though because I was getting too warm climbing whilst wearing them.

Queen Elizabeth Forest ParkThe inital part of my journey took me through Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. Despite the rain I stopped many times to photograph the trees, streams, waterfalls, and views. I continued to take more photographs when I reached the lochs and the weather slowly brightened.

At Callander I went in search of National Cycle Route 76 as it’s marked on my OS map. I found a cycle route in the right place, but it’s not signed with the route number anywhere along the section that I covered, so I’ll enter it as just a normal cycleway when it comes to entering that data.

Loch LubnaigIn the early afternoon I was a little frustrated with my camera again. It had become a bit wet again and was misting up, so I wasn’t able to get clear shots for a little while. It eventually cleared though and I got some great pictures passing Loch Lubnaig on my approach to Strathyre.

Cycling day 26: Lanark to Aberfoyle

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Today’s cycling was a little over 70 miles. I started out on the A72 which got me to the outskirts of the greater Glasgow area. I then followed a road closed for resurfacing (a great advantage for cyclists is that you can often become a pedestrian to weave through these works if necessary), and met up with National Cycle Route 75, which more or less followed the Clyde.

Several miles along the Clyde I needed to make a small diversion from the cycle route simply because it no longer exists! The M74 is being extended across the cycle route’s path, so the path itself is temporarily severed, but you can skirt around the edge of the works.

A few miles further on the path was closed completely without any signed diversion, quite typical in Britain. I’d just started to figure out a way around when along came another cyclist and he led me to the other side of the closure, which he guessed was due to construction work for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games to be held in Glasgow. The help around the closure was very helpful, thanks!

On the opposite bank of the Clyde to the BBC Scotland building NCR75 connected with NCR7. I then followed NCR7 for the rest of my journey. I’ll be following it for several days now.

I stopped for a few minutes rest at Old Kilpatrick, on the western edge of the greater Glasgow area. Whilst I’d stopped the rain started to come down quite heavily. Luckily I’d stopped under some trees, so I kept mainly dry. After many minutes it became clear that this was more than a quick shower, so I donned my waterproofs and got cycling again. Afterall I still have about 30 miles still to cover.

NCR7A little further on at Dumbarton NCR7 heads northward following the river Leven, almost reaching the edge of Loch Lomond. It then heads across country and slowly upwards using quiet roads and a couple of stretches of former railway line. It passes along the edge of the Loch Ard Forest, soon after reaching Aberfoyle at the edge of the Trossachs and the place of my overnight stay.

Tomorrow will start off with a climb of more than a couple of hundred metres over the course of only a few miles through the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park then I’ll be following the edge of Loch Venachar towards Callander. I’ll then be following Loch Luhnaig to my stop at Strathyre, dwarfed all of the time by the peaks above me.

Cycling day 25: Moffat to Lanark

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

I continued along National Cycle Route 74 today for much of the journey. It gently climbed over the course of many miles. This time the road was extremely quiet, perhaps because it was early in the morning and a weekend, so it was more fun. There were also long stretches that used a former carriageway of the former A74 as a cycleway. The separation from the traffic made it even better.

New LanarkFalls of ClydeI arrived in Lanark much earlier than planned, so visited the picturesque village of New Lanark, a world heritage site, followed by walking along to the Falls of Clyde.

Cycling day 24: Kirkoswald to Moffat

Friday, July 10th, 2009

I had quite a bit of cycling planned for today, so knew that it would take a fair amount of time. After a while I reached National Cycle Route 72 (The Hadrian’s Cycleway), and Regional Cycle 30 which was also following the same route. I noticed from glancing down at my GPS that it appears OSM doesn’t have coverage of all of this yet, so took a diversion for a mile or so following the route away from my intended direction before returning to follow the portion of NCR72 that I’d planned to cover.

Scotland welcomes youI left NCR72 near Carlisle with the intention of making my way towards NCR7. Unfortunately this involved using short stretches of the A689 and A7, both of which weren’t particularly cycle friendly. I diverted off of NCR7 for a short while past an MOD base which appears to be a weapons storage depot. Shortly thereafter I crossed the border into Scotland and shortly after that rejoined NCR7. I followed NCR7 for a little while and gathered what looks like it’ll be new mapping, then started on following NCR74. It starts out of a quiet country road, gradually working its way towards the A74(M). It eventually reaches the B7074 (the former A74), and uses that for miles upon miles with a mandatory cycle lane. Unfortunately the route runs almost parallel to the A74(M), so despite it being a relatively quiet road there’s plenty of road noise from the motorway. Also, quite a few logging lorries use the route, so it’s not quite as pleasant as I’d hoped. It goes on for so many miles that it gets a little monotonous after a while. The hills beside the route gradually got steeper, and they should get steeper still when I continue to follow the route further.

Tomorrow I’ve got as a rest day, which should allow me to catch up on things and relax a little before the next leg of my journey. John O’Groats is still some way off yet.

Cycling day 23: Sedbergh to Kirkoswald

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Yorkshire DalesI substantially changed my route today from that which I’d planned. I was going to use a fair amount of A- and B-roads because they’re slightly more direct and less hilly, but I instead elected to follow a portion of National Cycle Route 68 on some extremely quiet roads, and then a small section of National Cycle Route 7 near the end of the day. It turned out that these were a great choice because they enabled me to enjoy the scenery of the Yorkshire Dales National Park uninhibited by traffic.

Right at the end of the day I turned onto an alternative route into Kirkoswald. After a bit I noticed that all of the drains had been covered over. I noticed that the edges of the road looked cleanly swept, so concluded that this was to prevent sweeping the debris down the drains. A little further on the true reason became clear: The road was being topdressed with a layer of tar and small stones on top of that. I hadn’t seen any road closure signs, so it looks like they missed an approach. Luckily it was possible to walk my bike down the narrow gap that they still had to complete, so a diversion wasn’t necessary.

Cycling day 22: Bilsborrow to Sedbergh

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Forest of BowlandMy journey today took me through the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and into the very edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. I started out in Lancashire and now I’m in Cumbria.

I tried to take a few photos this morning but they were extremely blurry. It turns out that a little water had managed to work itself into my camera, presumably in the downpour at the the end of yesterday. This manifested itself as some condensation within the lens and the screen. Luckily it dried out within about and hour and a half.

In terms of cycle routes today I followed a bit more of the Lancashire Cycleway (Regional Cycle Route 90), several miles of National Cycle Route 6, and a little of the Cumbria Cycleway (Regional Cycle Route 30). I wasn’t expecting the latter of those, so that’s a bonus.

Sedbergh, it turns out, is England’s Book Town. It’s a small town, but has eight book shops and a book centre.

Cycling day 21: Pickmere to Bilsborrow

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

I started today by following the Cheshire Cycleway (Regional Cycle Route 70) and ended it by following the Lancashire Cycleway (Regional Cycle Route 90). Both were pleasant and relatively quiet routes. However in between I followed mainly on-road routes through urban areas such as Wigan and Preston. As such there was quite a bit of traffic. The day had many showers, but I got soaked by a downpour right at the end, whilst trying to find tonight’s accomodation.