This was a wee cycle tour in the southeast corner of Scotland, starting at Tweedbank railway station. Since the Borders Railway opened, I've scribbled often enough about the joy of exploring this area by bike. So suffice to say that the ride away from Tweedbank and then beyond Kelso was a dream of quiet back roads and leafy avenues, far from the madding crowd.
We crossed the border over the River Tweed on the first day and passed into England to camp for the night. The campsite was a strange place on a lonely rise with a patch of grass beyond the permanent trailer homes. The shower was cold, the nearby road was noisy but it was only £5 and we ate well at the adjacent inn.
Next day, in golden early sunlight, we cycled onto Eyemouth and visited the very moving sculpture there that commemorates the fishing disaster of October 1881 when Berwickshire lost 189 men at sea in a terrible storm. The scultpure on the waterfront faces out to sea and depicts the widows and children left behind. Incredibly, each bronze figure represents a real person. On a sunny morning with a gentle breeze and people walking their dogs along the promenade, it was hard to imagine that the elements in a different mood could be so vicious.
Cycling north from Eyemouth we pedalled along quiet farm roads that crossed fields of golden corn going under the harvester. A sign of the turning of the year. The farm roads took us to the pretty village of Coldingham where we spent a lovely afternoon in the green oasis of our friends' garden. There were homegrown potatoes, plums fresh from the tree and a never-ending supply of hot chickpea chapatis. As we left Coldingham, we were sure to pass through the "lucky arch" at Coldingham Priory.
Beyond Coldingham the road took us to a wild camp spot in the woods near Cockburnspath. Next morning a fiery sunrise set the woods alight as we retraced our steps a little to Cove, an idyllic hidden harbour tucked away at the bottom of the cliffs. It's barely changed since the 1800s. But the real delight was having to pass through a tunnel built through the cliffs to get there. The cellars accessed from the tunnel were once used by smugglers. After we wandered along the beach and the old piers, it was a stiff cycle back up the grassy track on a loaded bike but it won me the title of "King of the Mountains" from a bystander.
North of Cove we passed through the bustling town of Dunbar then lingered over gluten free clementine cake at the pretty coffee shop at Tyninghame Smithy as spots of rain started to fall. We made for North Berwick over hills that you wouldn't think possible in East Lothian and caught a train home.
Start: Tweedbank rail station
Finish: North Berwick train station
Route: From Tweedbank we followed cycle route 1 as far as Paxton, having left it at Norham, just over the border, to camp at the Salutation Inn, a couple of miles beyond. It was actually quite an enjoyable stopover with really good food at the inn. At Paxton we left route 1 and followed the Borders Loop/76 cycle route to Coldingham. Then we followed cycle route 76 up to North Berwick.
Tips: Tyninghame Smithy is well worth a visit for coffee and cake.