Cycle Ride Around East Lothian


I was looking for a nice quiet area to cycle around when friends suggested East Lothian. This is the area to the east of Edinburgh and a popular area.

I arranged to meet friends in Dunbar and travelled from Motherwell on the Cross Country train. The journey was only 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Arriving at Dunbar, I met up with some friends and we started cycling towards the Museum of Flight at East Fortune.

We cycled along the cycle route 76 to East Linton and then continued along the A199 road until we turned right onto the B1347. This road was quite hilly, but we soon had arrived at the National Museum of Flight.

National Museum of Flight

The adult admission was 12 GBP, but as we had arrived by bicycle, it only cost 10.00 GBP. East Fortune is a disused airbase which was established as a fighter and airship airfield in 1915. During the Second World it was used as a flying training establishment. In 1942 it became a station for a group of de Havilland Mosquito aircraft.

Concorde

One of the Concorde supersonic passenger jets is on display in the museum and visitors can enter the plane to view the interior. Concorde was withdrawn from service in 2003 and a few of the planes are on display in various countries around the world.

Concorde
Concorde

The interior of the plane is quite small and the windows were tiny. This was to avoid disaster if a window broke during a flight.

Passenger  jet

There were a number of hangars with different displays including civilian and military aircraft.

Vulcan bomber B.2A as during Falklands War

The above fighter jet was similar to the ones used during the Falklands War in 1982. 

Many of the exhibits are displayed in the buildings on the airbase.It takes a few hours to go round them all, but is very interesting.

After viewing all the displays, we had a light snack in the small cafe before heading for North Berwick. The 4 hours we spent at the museum was very enjoyable and worth visiting again.

Road to North Berwick

The road to North Berwick is very pleasant, as it passes through some beautiful countryside. There were some sharp climbs, but nothing too difficult. In the distance could be seen North Berwick Law, a volcanic plug of hard rock.

Fenton Tower

At Kingston, just outside North Berwick, was Fenton Tower. This is a fortified 16th-century tower and has had many distinguished visitors, among them being King James VI of Scotland (son of Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley) who was surrounded by a rebel army in Fife and took refuge at Fenton Tower. It is currently used as an hotel.

Fenton Tower

Arriving in North Berwick, we saw the remains of the second St Andrew’s Church. This was built in 1664 and was the only church in the town until 1843.

St Andrew’s Church

North Berwick has a lovely beach but as there was a chilly breeze, there was nobody sunbathing on it!

North Berwick Beach
North Berwick Beach

The Seabird Centre organises boat trips to the Bass Rock and Isle of May. We stayed in North Berwick for an hour and a half before heading back to Dunbar.

Returning to Dunbar

We took the coastal A198 road and got some magnificent views of the Firth of Forth. The view of the Bass Rock was excellent at this point.

Bass Rock

Tantallon Castle

Further along the road we saw the ruins of Tantallon Castle. This was a 14th century castle and was the last curtain-wall castle to be built in Scotland. It is managed by Historic Environment Scotland and on our next visit to the area we intend to visit it.

Tantallon Castle

The rest of the ride to Dunbar was relatively uneventful. My train to Edinburgh was departing at 19.45 and we made it to Dunbar in plenty of time to catch it.

Edinburgh 

Although the journey to Dunbar was direct, the return one involved an hour and 10 minute wait at Waverley Station in Edinburgh. As the sun was still shining, I took the opportunity of photographing the castle. Evening is the best time for this, as the sun shines directly on the castle and gives it a warm ‘glow’.
 
Edinburgh Castle.
I also walked about Princes Street and saw the trams. These were brought into service a few years ago, but are state-of-the art.
Edinburgh Tram
I then made my way back to the station and caught my train back to Motherwell. It had been a great day in East Lothian and the weather was great.
 
Further Information:

Scottish Seabird Centre
Historic Environment Scotland

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Carrying Luggage on a Brompton ‘S’ Bike

Now that Spring is here, I will be using my Brompton to cycle to work instead of taking the bus. This has the benefit of saving me the 45.00GBP which I have to pay for my monthly bus ticket. I tend to take the bus to work from November to February, as it is too cold to cycle and the roads are not always free from ice.

Brompton ‘S’ Bike

My Brompton ‘S’ bike (which is the one with the flat, sporty handlebars) does not come with a luggage rack so I was thinking on how to carry my items to work without having to wear a backpack.

Carrying a bag on a Brompton ‘S’ Bike

After searching the internet I found a Brompton bag, but as it was quite expensive I thought I would try and see if any of my existing bags could be used instead.

Brompton ‘S’ Bag Frame

One of the things I noticed was that the Brompton bags are mounted on a frame and inserted into the carrier block on the front of the bike. Mine came with the carrier block so that was one item I did not need to buy. 

I then looked at the mounting racks and saw one for 20.00GBP which was for sale in a shop in England. I sent away for one and it arrived the next day, which was very fast indeed. 

Bag carrying frame for a Brompton ‘S’ model

The next thing was finding an existing bag to fit the frame. After looking at the bags I already owned, I picked up my Timbuk2 Classic Medium courier bag which I had bought last year in a sale for less then 30.00GBP.

The bag fitted well, but the base of it sagged, so I needed a rigid material to put inside the base it. I thought of the material estate agents use for their signs and searched Ebay for this, but the sheets being sold were far too big for my needs. 

Making the Bag Rigid

I then went looking round the shops for something suitable and saw a ‘Value’ cat scratching pad in ‘Pets at Home’ which was quite light and quite rigid. It was a bit long so I cut about 2 inches off the end and it fitted perfectly. 

For a back of the bag to make it quite rigid, I used a cheap plastic clip pad which is both light and rigid.

Securing the Bag on the Frame

Holding the bag secure without having to use straps or bungee cords which would be a faff, I decided to see if I could secure it using the loops on the bag. I used a system I have use in the past on my rucksack to hold my walking poles which is just a piece of cord tightened by adjustable cord toggles. I bought these in a local dress-making shop and the cord is very strong. I would prefer paracord but they didn’t sell it.

Securing the bag.

This system holds the bag nice and secure and there is no danger of it falling off. For safety, it is essential to tuck away the shoulder strap in case it gets caught up in a moving part of the bike.

I also found a cheap fluorescent rucksack cover in my local Asda which was reduced to 3.00GBP. This fits the bag perfectly and will be ideal if it is raining, to save the bag from getting wet and also to provide extra visibility in the rain.

Raincover

The raincover is also secure and shouldn’t blow off in the wind.

Rear view of raincover

So there we have it – a cheap way of carrying luggage on a Brompton bicycle. It should be noted that the ‘S’ model has lower handlebars and requires a smaller bag and frame than the ‘M’, ‘P’ and H’ models. 

If you are looking to put a bag onto a Brompton at as low a cost as possible, it is worth looking round at any existing bags you may to see if they can be used on the bag frame before buying a Brompton one.

Further info

Brompton cycles

Timbuk2

Culzean Castle – Maybole Ayrshire

My fortnight’s holiday is drawing to a close so today I made the most of the spring sunshine to visit Culzean Castle (pronounced  ‘Cul-layn’). It was still sunny, but quite cold and fleece jackets and hats were required. In the last fortnight we have had temperatures in Scotland which have been higher than Rome and Athens. But not today, unfortunately.

Today my visit was a round trip of 134 miles. I have covered a large number of miles in the last two weeks but it has been worth the effort for the amount of enjoyment I have received.

Location of the Castle

Culzean Castle is situated on the A719 Ayr to Girvan road and can be reached by bus using the Stagecoach no 60. If going by bus, there is a walk of about one mile from the bus stop, but it is not too strenuous. It can also be accessed by Cycle on Route NCN 7.

There is a well stocked souvenir shop, cafe and plenty of car parking areas. The menu in the cafe was very varied and at very reasonable prices. The Castle is open from 29th March until 28th October, 2012.

Kennedy Family and National Trust for Scotland

Culzean Castle was owned by the Kennedy Family until 1946 when ownership was transferred to the National Trust for Scotland to avoid death duties. It is off the main Ayr to Girvan road and involves a one mile walk to the castle, if using public transport. However it is an easy walk and very pleasant.

Culzean Castle
Culzean Castle

President Dwight Eisenhower

The Castle is situated on a cliff top and is part of Culzean Country Park which has an extensive network of paths for walking and mountain-biking. President Dwight Eisenhower had an apartment gifted to him after the Second World War in recognition of his role as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe and he stayed there on a number of occasions.

Designed by Robert Adam

Culzean Castle was developed from a basic tower house to this  fine castle by the 10th Earl of Cassilis. He instructed the architect Robert Adam to build the castle as the seat of his earldom.

The castle was built in stages between 1777 and 1792 and includes a grand oval staircase, a circular room which overlooks the sea to the Isle of Arran and well-appointed apartments. Photography inside the Castle is not permitted so I cannot include any photographs of the interior.

Culzean Castle
Culzean Castle

Country Park

I particularly liked the circular room, as the views of Arran were excellent today. Arran is a place I am familiar with as many of my family live there and I spent a large part of my summer holidays on the island when I was younger.

As well as the Castle there are extensive woodland and gardens on the estate. One type of tree many visitors may be puzzled about are the palm trees. These are common on the West Coast of Scotland as it benefits from the warm temperatures of the Gulf Stream, which originate in Florida.

Palm trees
Palm trees

The Isle of Arran was very clear and the mountains of Goat Fell, Beinn Nuis and Cir Mhor were in evidence. The Holy Isle, off Lamlash, could also be seen.

In the picture below (taken at 12x zoom), Goat Fell has the highest peak and Holy Island is on the left. The photograph is so clear that the green of the  grass can be seen. I will be going to Arran in May and look forward to the visit.

Isle of Arran from Culzean
Isle of Arran from Culzean

The grounds of the estate are so big that it would take a few more visits to get round all the footpaths. There was time to get down to the beach to visit the Gas House which supplied the castle with town gas until 1940. It now houses a museum explaining the history of gas.

The tide was out and this allow a walk on the beach to view the Castle from below. The sun was directly over the Castle so it was difficult to view it and also impossible to photograph.

The Castle was used to make the film ‘The Wicker Man’ starring Christopher Lee in 1973.

Ayrshire Coast
Ayrshire Coast

I managed to walk along some of the paths before making my way back to catch the bus back to Ayr. It had been another enjoyable day.

Further Info:
Near Maybole
Ayrshire KA19 8LE
Ordnance Survey – OS Ref: NS232103

http://www.culzeanexperience.org/

Public Transport:
Stagecoach No 60 bus from Ayr or Maybole.