Sunday, 13 October 2013

Across Scotland by Mountain Bike - The Full Story: Day 7

Back to Day 6

Glen Esk  to Montrose (19 miles)

We sat under the trees eating our last remaining breakfast bars and watched strings of water droplets cascade out of the branches, glinting like pearls in the morning sun.

After packing up for the final time, we rode the short distance into Edzell for breakfast at The Tuck Inn, which on arrival, we found didn't open until midday.  A chap on a bike stopped and told us there was a café down the road that would be open.  We got chatting about bikes.  He had 14 but his mate had 18 or maybe it was 20. I really don't remember now.  My mind was on a full Scottish or at the very least a bacon butty.  The café was also a gift shop, a purveyor of expensive tat to tourists, the kind of thing your aunty would bring back from her holiday, and served up an indifferent cup of coffee and yesterday's scones.  Hilary was (and still is) outraged that they could do such a thing!

Took the B road south out of Edzell and then back lanes to Westerton of Stracathro and the most hazardous part of the entire trip, the crossing of the A90.  This is the main road to Aberdeen and at this point is a dual carriageway where motorists seem unwilling to travel at less than the national speed limit.

Waiting for a gap in the traffic (as in, no cars in sight in either direction), I walked the bike and trailer across and was completely off the road and onto the grass verge when a  motorist sped by sounding his horn in a "get of my road" kind of way.  I offered him a  cheery, one-fingered wave.  Hilary followed across and got a similar welcome from a driver going in the opposite direction - or it may have been the same one, come back for another go.

I never much like arriving in this part of Scotland.  Perhaps it is the transition from leaving the Highlands to entering the lowlands, and the signalling of the end of a trip, but it seems to me that people over here are more unfriendly than, well... just anywhere else in the country.

The Angus hills from across the A90

The very last hill (of Stracathro)

We climbed the last hill of the trip and then followed a white road on the map, running between Dun and Kirkhill.  This started as a farm track, then turned into a green lane and ended in a field of cereal crops.  We faffed around for a few minutes, trying to find a way along the side of this before back-tracking and taking the main road into Montrose past the Basin. 

Following a Sustrans sign to the coast, we ended up on the wrong side of the golf course with some large sand dunes and fence between us and the sea.  What!!! We hadn't cycled across Scotland not to get our feet wet.  We back-tracked (again) but the detour wasn't all bad.  We came across a BMX track and did a couple of laps with the trailers.

Montrose BMX track - seldom attempted with trailers

And so we rode the bikes down a section of convenient 'north shore' onto the beach and took the final picture with the North Sea behind us.

Journey's end - the beach at Montrose

The End

Well it wasn't quite the end.  Montrose was full of holiday makers in the form of hyper-active kids and stressed-out parents.  We called in the beach café and ordered some food and drinks.  The two women serving behind the counter were complaining to each other how rushed off their feet they were.  There was only one other couple in the café and somehow we got given the same number for our orders.  The plan had been to stay overnight in Montrose but this felt a poor way to end the trip.  We found the car where we had left it a week earlier, packed up and drove to Kendal for a curry before stopping with Hilary's niece for the night in Staveley.

The next day, we drove down through the Yorkshire Dales, along the A65 in torrential rain and remembered it was the first day of the Gaping Gill winch meet, up on the side of Ingleborough. Pausing only briefly to consider taking the bikes and trailers up there for the day, we carried on home to Sheffield.

And this really is the end.

The video of the trip, "Across Scotland with BoB (and Hilary)", is coming soon.  Until then, here is the official 'teaser trailer'

Teaser Trailer

Bet you never saw that one coming!

Special thanks to:
The LEJOG bike team at Spean Bridge for coffee and sausage rolls
The café at Roybridge Stores
The chap at Laggan Wolftrax tea shack for a delicious venison burger and spicy squash thing
Sue and Neil at The Newtonmore Hostel
The House of Mark for an unexpectedly fine pot of tea and Magnums
All the other lovely people we met on the way across (which specifically excludes all the motorists on the A90)

And finally to Mat, Simon and Mat at Eighteen Bikes, Hope, Derbyshire who built and maintain both bikes.

Hilary's is a Cotic B-Fe and receives a huge amount of interest from other cyclists.

Mine is a Santa Cruz Nickel and nobody gives it a second look!

Both trailers are Bob Ibex