New Lanark to Perth
A combination of dessert last night, nine hours sleep and both porridge and a cooked breakfast this morning had me feeling as though I could climb the hill out of New Lanark twice. This was just as well, as I realised half way up that I was not wearing my gloves. I had left them on one of my panniers, and they had fallen off as I pushed it over cobblestones.
It was a sunny day from the outset, and although on the cool side, I wasn’t wearing armwarmers or gilet, and was not cold, especially having climbed out of New Lanark twice. It was not long before I had taken the wrong road, thanks partly to my inattentiveness, but partly to the Garmin unit, which has been telling me to go straight on when I should have been going left or right.
Anyhow, without that error, and forgetting my gloves, I would not have met Jim, Gordon and Peter, three local cyclists who were out for a morning spin. I came across them about 8 miles into the ride. Further down the road I took the same road off to the right that they did, in an attempt to get back on course, but I was then invited to join them on their ride, as they were going a more scenic, if somewhat circuitous for me, route which would eventually take me towards the Forth road bridge.
As we went along, I saw that it was indeed a much better route than the one that I had planned, and I had earlier been resigning myself to a couple of hours of traffic lights and holdups. The roads were pretty empty, and high enough to get good views. The three decided that they would change their planned route, and do another, to take me closer to where I wanted to go. We headed northeast on a road known locally as the Lang Wang (not sure about the spelling!), which is the old road into Edinburgh, now superseded, leaving it relatively free of traffic.
I spent a very pleasant hour and a quarter with them on the road, and we ended up in a coffee shop in West Calder. After coffee and a scone, not only would they not let me pay, but upon my return from the loo, they presented me with £20 for STS! I am not ashamed to say that I welled up in the face of such generosity to a stranger. Gentlemen, if you are reading this, thanks once again.
On my own again, I proceeded towards the Forth bridge, getting help from another local cyclist and a taxi driver in the form of directions. The bridges are a magnificent sight. What was slightly less magnificent was the closed cycle lane on the northbound carriageway, forcing me to carry my back-heavy bike down a flight of steps, along an underpass, and back up another flight of steps to get to the cycle lane on the other side.
The trip across was alarming whenever I stopped to take a photograph, as I could feel the bridge shaking as the traffic went by. At the other side, there was an even larger set of steps that I thought that I would have to negotiate to get back onto the correct side of the road, but another cyclist just continued down the pavement on the wrong side of the road to the roundabout, and I followed.
I soon picked up the Old Perth Road, once again superseded, and as such ideal for cyclists. I stopped at Kelty to get a sandwich, and sat outside, admiring the hills in the background. I had 55 miles done already, and it was only 1.30, so I dawdled along the rest of the route, taking a short detour to see the remains of Burleigh castle, a sixteenth century tower with later additions. Passing through Kinross, I spotted a car trailer, incredulously laden with about fifteen bikes!
Another short detour later, this one thanks to the Garmin, and I was back on track, and before I knew it, heading into the newly ‘city-fied’ Perth. The youth hostel is only open in the summer months, as it makes use of student accommodation, and it isn’t near the city centre, so after getting into my room, I got back on the bike and cycled to Tesco, where I bought food for this evening and the morning.
I found today a lot easier than yesterday, due to good sleep, plenty of food and a change of direction in the wind, but the day was made for me by a chance encounter with three of Scotland’s friendliest cyclists.
Statistics for Day 3
Miles ridden: 81.8
Feet climbed: 3578
Friendly Scottish cyclists met: 3
Unfriendly cyclists met: 0