Thursday, 27 March 2014

I'll be right back after this short break ...

I'm away on my latest adventure - a cycle to the midnight sun. You can follow the story of my bike ride exploring the northern reaches of Europe at my other blog, "northern exposure". Click on the "northern exposure" link to the right or click "HERE".

Back in a few months ...

Love Pauline :-)

Monday, 24 March 2014

Edinburgh - Monday mornings

Argentina, February 2011

We unzip the tents at 5.30am. It´s still dark and there´s a sliver of silver moon. All is still and quiet around our wild camp in the desert beside a salt lake. By the time we are having breakfast, huddled in fleeces against the dawn chill, there is a band of golden light on the horizon. And as we push the bikes back to the road, the sun´s peachy morning rays are already touching the rocky peaks of the Andes to the west. We slip into our toe clips, push off along the road and share a smile - this certainly beats heading into work on a Monday morning!

Edinburgh, March 2014
I pedal west along the canal as the sun rises above the city. I love it up here on the canal. I can see across the whole of the morning. I drop down to the river and cycle beside its rushing waters as beams of sunshine penetrate the trees. A dipper darts between rocks. A heron hangs around in the shallows. I weave a path through the industrial zone to the office. Ugly, boxy warehouses crowd in but there’s a backdrop of wild hills and a skein of winter geese in a salmon sky. It certainly beats heading into work in a traffic jam on a Monday morning!

Today was my last Monday morning at the office. By the end of the week I’ll have finished my job, packed away my belongings and loaded up the bike to set off on my next cycling adventure. Over the coming months, I’ll be following the winter geese north as I cycle to the land of the midnight sun. 

Keep watching ...

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The old ways - addendum

The other day I noticed on my commute to work that new waymarkers had appeared along the stretch of the Water of Leith path that I cycle along every day. They signify that this is now part of the new John Muir Way. A Scottish-American naturalist of the nineteenth century, John Muir is credited with coming up with the concept of national parks and wilderness preservation. When it opens this year, the long distance footpath named in his honour, will link his birthplace in Dunbar to the west coast at Helensburgh, from where his family sailed to America. The section of the Three Lochs Way that I walked with Graham and Andrew between Helensburgh and Balloch will become part of that link.

In recent times, it seems like dozens of these new long distance footpaths have opened up all over the country. In my younger days, I might have poo-pooed the idea of waymarked trails but now, with greater maturity and insight, I absolutely love the idea. These long distance paths and tracks criss-cross the country, sometimes in wild areas and sometimes in very urban areas. They link people and places by boot and bike, and often bring back into use ancient, once-forgotten routes. 

The old ways are becoming the new ways.