As August turns into Winter, we’re off again…

Posted by on 13, Aug 2021 in 2021 - Edinburgh to JOG, Tilly the Tandem

As August turns into Winter, we’re off again…

After having finished the Lands End to London cycle we had decided that we really needed to do the Edinburgh to John O Groats bit to complete a very circuitous LEJOG, so here we are off again to London to get the Azuma train up to Edinburgh.

We thought August would be about as warm as it gets in Scotland so sitting in Taffy the night before departure and thinking we need to put the heating on made us consider packing our thermals, just in case.

We held firm in the end and I’m sure we’ll live to regret that on the Hebrides as we head to JOG.

Hebrides? Yep, in true Reed fashion we are heading from Edinburgh westwards and are going to go up through the Outer Hebrides on our very windy route to our finish point.

And of course getting back from JOG with a tandem means we have to cycle back to Oban and hope that the new Highland Explorer train can fit us in…. Literally.

What? you ask… Well in true British fashion Scotrail announced a new Bicycle train – The Highland Explorer – running from Glasgow to Oban. It has 20 spaces for tandems and bikes in a Specially designed carriage.

It sounds great, but the maximum dimension of a tandem was annoucned at 220cm. Nearly every tandem in existence is around 240cm plus, so quite how they came to this measurement restriction I’ve no idea. They even showed a picture of tandem on board, which was definitely not 220cm long.

Still, hats off to them as they quickly announced a rethink and actually measured and tested tandems on board and we are told that they now accept them up to 250cm, largely due to the terrier like nature of our Scottish friends Matildas Musings…. (Mental note not to get on the wrong side of Colin…)

Our departure day we dropped Taffy off at MAN for repairs and got the London train from Ipswich, we cycled through the City of London, which we have now renamed Zombie City as its just deserted and a joy to cycle through and past the 3 mile tail back along the embankment of irate drivers stationary due to Tower Bridge being stuck open. So many drivers just sat there with their engines idling despite the UN warning that day of an imminent climate catastrophe.

Having salied past these poor drivers and arriving at Our Z Hotel we were upgraded as they consider us regular there now having stayed last time we were in London and we enjoyed the upgrade of a window in the room which had a concrete wall about 20cm away. The room was identical apart from our room with a view. But it was a nice gesture….

London is half empty and we wandered up to Dishoom for tea in Carnaby Street which again was like a ghost town. If you can’t find anywhere to go this summer then visit London, it’ll never be this quiet again, at least till if floods in the upcoming climate catastrophe and quite possibly those drivers on the embankment will still be there with their engines on to the bitter end.

We arrived at King’s Cross the next morning in 23c heat and bright sunshine. Looking promising..

We removed everything from Tilly for the LNER Azuma train northwards and managed to do this in a record time of 35 minutes! Tilly loaded, we adjourned to 1st class where the complimentary food and drink probably means we now need to cycle back to Lands End to work it all off.

The steward gave us so many snacks and biscuits we couldn’t eat them all. He obviously thought us poor cyclists need feeding up.

Once in Edinburgh, our privileged status continued in the evening too! We had booked a table at Mama Roma, a very nice family run Italian that we had been to 3 times when we did Leg one of our our LEJOG. We’d got to know the owner and really liked the pasta there so booked a window table for a prime view of the road works outside.

We arrived and our table was taken, but the owner apologised profusely and then threw the couple off the table we had reserved to make way for us! We felt very Royal, and a bit guilty and I’m sure the Scottish couple who had to move are now pro independence after they heard the English accents…

Our first proper cycle the next day was from Edinburgh to Grangemouth along the Forth. The difference between these places is much like having breakfast with the Royal family and then having tea with the Royle family. You approach Grangemouth up a 20% incline fighting the delightful odour of sewage and chemical works and when you crest the hill the vista of chimneys tanks and associated factories is a bit depressing.

The cycle to get there however is gorgeous and follows part of the Antonine Wall. We stopped at two forts along the way, one of which was nothing more than a grass mound now, but standing there at the northern most point of the Roman Empire with three layers on to keep warm, at the height of the summer with the wind blowing, the rain falling and the clouds covering the hill tops, we wondered what on earth the Roman soldiers made of a posting here.

Our evening meal consisted of the Scottish traditional dish – Macaroni Cheese, really nice but we couldn’t finish it so didn’t get pudding 😔

The next morning we set off in bright sunshine as the day lulled us into a false sense of security.

After stopping at the Spitfire memorial to the pilots who died in training here in WW2 we left the Forth and joined the Forth and Clyde Canal immediately bumping into the towering and magnificent peice of art ‘The Kelpies, ‘ two enormous horse heads guarding the entrance to the canal.

We had to stop for a coffee despite having only covered about 2km and just gaze at them as the sun reflected off the metal plates used to make them.

Our final stop en route to Glasgow was the Falkirk Wheel, a ferris wheel for canal boats to link the Edinburgh canal to the Forth and Clyde. It was so nice to see that both the Kelpies and the Wheel had been turned into mini tourist attractions with cafes, bike hire and plenty of places to sit and watch the world go by.

As we neared Glasgow, the wind picked up into a bit of a hoolie and we were pretty grateful we were on a tarmac canal path and not slaving up the side of some hill (we’re saving that for later) The clouds rolled in and we could see the rain dashing for Glasgow from the opposite direction to us, but we managed to roll into the hotel foyer (quite literally) just as the rain started.

By the time we went our for dinner the roads were flooded and the rain so heavy you either got drenched or had to seek shelter and wait, which we did. Even so we were quite wet – and we have an umbrella – it was more monsoon than Rain and 30 minutes later there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun beamed down innocently as if nothing had happened.

One Comment

  1. “Terrier like nature” … surely some mistake!!! And obviously Grangemouth wasn’t on your high spots. No wonder The Proclaimers sang the lyrics “Gangemouth no more!”

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