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15 Saturday, 28.6., Inverness - Buckie, 118 km

From Inverness the route leads inland into a hilly farmland with meadows, forests and small rivers. There is nearly no traffic. So we now have not one of those ancient landscapes but a quite normal as we are used at home. Finally we reach the town Nairn and have a photo of a narrow bridge.

Bridge at Nairn

Approaching the coast again we visit Brodie Castle, one of those legendary British castles. The following village Dyke has a nice church and an old graveyard. The gardens behind the houses are picturesque as well.

Brodie Castle

Church at Dyke

Houses at Dyke

In the botany and at the shore of the rivers we see large fields of the Herakleum (Giant Hogweed). This plant is a controversial subject for  ecologists because it is not member of the native flora. It was once imported from the Caucasus mountains and now lurks to displace local plants at their ancestral location. 

Flussufer mit Herkulesstauden

Bailey Bridge

Blick auf Forres

Near the town Forres there is one of these cute small bridges again (Bailey Bridge). Thereafter I get lost for a while - passing Forres - but then at the keyword "Mill of Grange" find back to the cycle path. The sun shines bright and we have beautiful colours again. At the town Elgin the route is adventurous along the river and in the outskirts difficult to follow.

We then have an old rail bridge crossing the mouth of the River Spey. And on the other side of the river there is a fine rest place at an abandoned airfield. It is interesting to observe how the natur re-conquers the tarmac and concrete surfaces. A roebuck  jumps out of the bush and immediately back into it again.

Old Railbridge

over the Mouth of River Spey

The last section for today is along the coast in the evening sun. I think that this area must be touristic, but there are no B&B signs around. The Hotel in the center of the town of Buckie is announced for sale. Finally I find the Old Coach House Hotel where I can stay. Of course we have a festival again: "Lost Weekend" or so.

Evenin Sun at Buckie

My final walk is soon over while so many youngsters stroll around and crie and shout. There is much to do "at home": a shave and laundry.

The night is somewhat noisy from the disputes of the seagulls, which permanently seem to have trouble with each other. But don't bother, this is the noise of  a coastal town.

16 Sunday, 29.6., Buckie - Tarves, 115 km

We will pass a couple of scenic coastal towns today. They have nice names like Portessie, Findochty or Portknockie. Within the cliffs there is a golf course (Cullen). There are two golfers just at the drive and the first one tries to hit the ball but only a hollow sound comes up and the ball trundles 20 m or so ahead. The second player does a better work. Like Tiger Woods he strikes the ball away and I neither see it fly nor fall. Strange thing. I better continue my tour and pass a pretty rail viaduct.

We return inland to farmland and in the village Fordyce there are some old things like the ruin of a church and ancient gravestones. At Portsoy we return to the coast, there is a festival at the harbour today. One has to pay an entrance fee to come in there. I only want to go for a photo and so they let me in cost free. Thankyou!

At Banff we leave the coast and ride up the valley of the River Deveron. The next town is Turiff, but I don't remember details, may be the path was just along the river. At the village Maud we have a new attraction: the route leads on the former railtrack of the Formatine and Buchan Way Sometimes a rough gravel, but mostly a good surface.. The only drawbacks are the tricky barriers to keep out the motorized dare-devils. It is hard to lift the loaden bike up to knee height all the time at these spots.

Some miles later the pleasure ends and in the fields I get lost, missing a sign to turn off. As I notice my mistake I go back assisted by the float direction of the river Ythan, but there were 4 miles in vain. Then I feel a desire for an accommodation and ask here and there in the village Tarves. They only advise me to go to the next village named Pitmedden, there is a hotel. I will never get there! You know why? OK, just at the road (B999 crossing A920) there is a sign: Farmhouse B&B. I meet a friendly lady there and my usual demand "Can I stay here overnight?" is replied: "Yes you can". The dog named Cate is so happy on me as if I am an old friend.

In the evening I cycle to Pitmedden, have a look at the hotel and even find an open shop on Sunday where I can buy some food and phone up at home.

17 Monday, 30.6., Tarves - Arbroath, 142 km

Today we can use the railtrack of the Buchan Way once again and this ends in the outskirts of Aberdeen. It is a great pleasure to cycle like this. Sometimes a flock of rabbits runs ahead which comfortably  live in the slopes. After I reach the metropolis of Aberdeen the situation changes. I am the rabbit myself. So I feel at busy crossings and roundabouts. Such a big town with the roaring dense traffic is an awful difference to the silence of the farmland or coastal areas. I fight my way into the city and just hit the tourist information. This is important for I need a new Sustrans map "Edinburgh to Aberdeen" (though I will go the opposite direction). And I get the map. "So many people buy this map" the clerk says. "I hope so" I say.


Now let us cross the Victoria Bridge and leave the town along the harbour. At the lighthouse and the Nigg Bay we are for our own again. And there is a fine route along the cliffs of the coast. In Portlethen we turn inland and pass a stone circle with funny signs (Beware Dogs in Field).
The route zigzags for a while (up and down as well) and finally we reach the scenic town Stonehaven. Up above the town there is a beautiful view.


From now on I choose: the main road (A92) if this is nearer to the coast, the cycle route otherwise. On the main road we reach a fabulous speed (did I tell you, that we enjoy a proper tailwind once again?). At Inverbervie we must leave the coast anyway because the continuation of the route can only be mastered by unloaded all terrain bikes. But I see "Four Men on a Bench" and shortly ask for a photo and before they really know - click - the photo is done. "A nice place here" I say and hear something like "If you sit here twenty years?". And I hurry up back into the real world.

Four Men and a Bench

Rail Bridge at Montrose

This is the town Montrose with a dense traffic as usual. Over a bridge we reach more quiet channels again. This is the last section for today and I monotonically ride ahead.I pass the ruin of the Red Castle, this looks like the head of a horse. At Arbroath there is a Nature Trail which leads to the promenade. There seem to be some smokehouses, a speciality of this town? ("Smokie" - haddock smoked over embers using a technique that is traditional to the area..., try Google). But at first I must find an accommodation. Three times in vain: no room for a single. At last in the guesthouse The Pend, looking like a backpacker's pension, I get a tiny room. The greatest problem is the bike, but finally the chief gets the idea to deposit it at a nearby pub.

For dinner I cannot get profit of the announced smokies. Let's have some fish'n chips from the takeaway - once for ever. In my room I consume this stuff with bare hands, no one should watch me at this activity.

The greatest place of interest at Arbroath seem to be the ruins of the abbey (1178).

18 Thursday, 1.7., Arbroath - Edinburgh, 136 km

At breakfast the chief asks me if I had been at the village Auchmithie nearby, the nicest spot of the coast near and far. I have not been there - he even offers to bring me there. Well - you cannot see everything and time is money - I prefer to go on south.

I ride to Monifieth on the main road (A930), have a look at the Broughty Castle and then ride on the promenade along the Firth of Tay. We can avoid to get into the large town Dundee and end under the road bridge across the Tay. After some time I find the elevator for wheelchairs, baby carriages and bicycles. A fine facility! Pedestrians and The non-motorized vehicles can use a path in the middle of the bridge, which is longer than 2 km - the longest river bridge in Britain. On the right hand side we see the Tay rail bridge, and there is some history about this bridge.

Broughty Castle

Tay Rail Bridge

Aufzug an der Road Bridge

In my early youth I heard about it and felt spooky. There is a ballad by Theodor Fontane (I don't know if an English translation exists), and this begins: "When will we three meet again...". At the other side of the Tay there is a signpost about the background: in the year 1879 the bridge broke during a storm and a train with about 70 passengers pitched into the floods. No survivors. Today the remaining fundaments of the old bridge are still to be seen.

We get the feeling to begin a new section of our tour. But it is not new to go up and down, sometimes with nice views across the river Tay. At Newburgh we go inland, the weather is dull and we have few colours. On lonesome paths we surround the hills of the West Lomond mountains. The hills are not higher than 500 m but are hidden by clouds. At Kinross we pass Loch Leven, a historic place, but we don't see much of it.

Another summit must be passed, this is easy to perform and then we use our favourite old rail track for a while. Eventually we see a large bridge in front, but it lasts a while until we are guided through Dunfermline and other towns. So it is a great moment to enter th Forth Road Bridge. This is somewhat shorter than 2 km and as it was built in 1964 it was the longest suspension bridge in Europe. To the left we see the Forth Rail Bridge, a huge framework bridge which is very scenic and looks like my imaginations of the River Kway Bridge.

Forth Rail Bridge

We have crossed the Firth of Forth and now reach the town Queensferry. There is enough time to master the last 20 km to Edinburgh. The route is well signed and never leads into the traffic (another rail track sometimes). At last I intend to end at the next B&B available. And this is a very nice one near the Haymarket: Glenerne, 4 Hampton Terrace. A Victorian house, old furniture and large portraits everywhere. I get a large room with a bathroom aside. 15 minutes ago I was tired  and exhausted, now I lie in the warm bath-tub and I think: "Life is wonderful".

Just on the other side of the road there is a Japanese restaurant. But I am too lazy or too tightfisted: I enjoy my bag-food and look out of the window into a wonderful gardenscene in the evening sun.


19 Wednesday, 2.7., Edinburgh - Kelso, 137 km

From my lodging I reach the center of Edinburgh, Princess Street and so on within some minutes. The cyclist is invited to have a struggle with the doubledecker busses for they use the same carriage ways. At a traffic light it happens to me that there is a bus to the left and another to the right. And then they shut the gap like tongues or scissors. I somehow stay alife but from now on use the pedestrian's pavement.

As usual I don't like a big town and look for the crossing of the cycle route along an arterial road. In vein! But I can tell you, that there are lots of Guesthouses, B&Bs and private Hotels. But I must go back to the city and at the Tevot Place I recognize where I am. Then I get lost for another time - forget about it. May be, one hour later I face the small tunnel of the rail track, where I am right and the tour may start.

Tunnel at Edinburgh

Garvald Lodge

Long Descent

For a while on the track things are fine. But then the track is closed and a diversion route recommended. So we still toddle around in the outskirts until we reach the free botany. This means to cross the River South Esk and climb up the Moorfoot Hills. The views to the coast and the town of Edinburgh are stunning and we get up easily. Behind a bend there is the summit. A long green valley opens and a 40 km/h downhill road without using the brakes nor the pedals follows. No trees at all, some brown areas of heather which start to blossom in red.

At a bridge I have a rest and see my favourite Monkey Flowers again. Up at the slope there is a lonesome house, may be the Garvald Lodge. And the road stays to lead straight ahead, somewhat uphill at first but then all the way down to the Leithen Water and the touristic town Innerleithen. Here we reach the river Tweed and will follow him until his mouth.

This part of the Tweed valley remembers at the landscape of the German low mountain ranges. The river Tweed soon gets wide and we come to the villages Galashiels and Melrose. As usual I will have rushed through ignoring the famous Melrose Abbey (1136), may be there was just a downhill or the wind pushed me along. Then after a gate we have the road for ourselves. At the village Newton St. Boswells we cross another spectacular suspension bridge (Dryburgh Bridge).

Dryburgh Bridge

If you read my End-to-End report you know I have a foible for the most beautiful telephone box. Here is another one and I use it for a call at home. Usually I look for an accommodation first, but today I say: "...you find a B&B everywhere...". May be I am wrong today with this statement. Just a moment later I have a severe blackout. I climb up a 12% hill, ride 1 km ahead and then suppose to be wrong. I go back the same way, read the signs - no, I was right. So up the 12% hill a second time. And a friendly man in his garden says "Hello" for the third time.

Most Beautiful Telephone Box of the World?

Where to go?

Farmland and lonesome farm buildings. Once I see an individual, an old man with a plastic bag as luggage. He looks in his map and doesn't realize me. So I rush along but cannot report something about this tramp or whoever he was. Soon we reach the town Kelso and while I look for an accommodation it starts to rain.

We have my favourite situation again as I told you before. They all have "full", "booked", "no vacancies". At last I enter "The Queens Head Hotel". This was restored until last week and so there are no bookings in advance. I can check in "just in time" - as the chief says. And don't forget: we await the "Jim Clark Memorial Rally". Jim Clark was born around here, he was killed 1968 on the Hockenheimring during an unimportant race.


For dinner I have seen a Pizza-Take-Away. I go there and order a Seafood Pizza 10 inches diameter or so. During the waiting time I throw a glance to the Kelso Abbey, the meadows of the river Tweed and the entrance to the park of Floors Castle. Then I hurry back with the pizza-bag, quite quickly along the chief who just checks in another guest. And in my room I consume the pizza aided by my pocket knife and a spoon - works well and tastes exquisite.

Behind the hotel there is a Porsche jacked upon a trailer. May be he has checked in "just in time" as well.

Chapter 5. Kelso/Berwick - York/Hull
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