End to End Day Seven – Edinburgh ring road, Dalkeith, dangerous A68, Steve, wonderful A697, Thirlestane Castle, Judy, into England, The Old Mill, Wooler

Edinburgh to Wooler 75 miles

393 miles completed – 622  to go

Early breakfast at Travelodge (they do at least do this from 7 am) and off round the inner Edinburgh ring road (B701 following green RR signs for cyclists travelling eastbound) The route caters fairly well for cyclists- although the road surface is poor in places. Into Dalkeith for a coffee and cookie – sizeable town now giving the impression of significant disadvantage.

Started to lose my chain off the front rings (over shifting). With the nearest bike shop at least 35 miles away, plan B involved Pete finding the appropriate video on Google which would show him a. which little screw to adjust b. which way to turn it and c. how far to turn it without making the situation worse – brilliant! Took a while but eventually fixed and on our way.  Saw a pony in a field full of ragwort.

Once off the ring road we had to take the A68 South. If you are cycling and have any choice I would suggest you avoid this road. Very busy, very straight, very narrow and many many large lorries in both directions. In a lay-by we me Steve and his Braty Wagon. He was just so kind insisting on giving is free food and drink and telling us all about the four jobs he held down working 100 hours a week. However, he did make us promise, wherever possible to use the pavement or side path on the A68 because of those lorries.

We duly followed his good advice – but a real nightmare since the path, where it existed, was lumpy and bumpy in the extreme or very overgrown while the road itself was newly surfaced – but he was right, there was no room for us on that road. We had also been climbing over the xxxx hills so all in all a difficult experience.

After a very slow 15 miles or so we turned onto the much nicer A697. Now this was lovely, Still fast traffic and big lorries but not continuous both ways so there was plenty of space for the traffic to pass. Also we came down off the hills and began to make much faster progress – Pete informing me of things like “28 mph on the flat there, Mum”.

2.30 pm and turned off the road for lunch at Thirlestane Castle. Here we met Judy, who not only made us the most enormous delicious sandwiches, she also took our photos for the Thirlestane Castle Facebook page – and then told us about her incredible journeys round the world to support animal rescue initiatives. She is off to help elephants in India next spring – amazing! And good luck, Judy!

Still 35 miles to go but the road was now very fast indeed  – The Tour of Britain uses the same route in September.  We stopped  briefly in Black Adder at 50 miles and Cold Stream (the full of history border town) at 60 miles. Very beautiful Border countryside.

Over the River Tweed – and then … The England border! Wooo! And into Northumberland.

Still a fast road although the hills ahead were approaching rapidly. Last three miles and we hit the hills as we climbed up and into Wooler, our destination at 75 miles.

Arrived at the Old Mill to a very warm welcome from Patrick and Paulette for whom nothing was too much trouble. As our bicycles were slotted into proper bike stands in the garage I apologised for being so sweaty and grubby. Patrick kindly said he had seen much worse and told us that they had had to call a paramedic for their previous cyclists!

Later – Mum to Pete: Petie, can you stop talking now for a bit – I need to go to sleep.

Pete to Mum: Mum, before you die, can you make me a list of the adventures we have shared so I don’t forget them!






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