I attended the Spokes Bike Breakfast a couple of weeks ago and was sharp enough to be an early attendee. As the fifteenth person arriving, I grabbed myself a free copy of Spokes’ West Lothian map. I was armed with this useful navigation device when I decided to explore some of the quieter roads surrounding South Queensferry.
I started out well, planning on following the NCN1 out to the Forth Road Bridge. However, upon finding NCN1 at the old Cramond Brig I was informed via a large yellow sign that the cycle path was out of commission and I’d have to be re-routed along a diversion. I put faith in the signage (anyone who cycles regularly will know how much of a gamble that is!) and took the detour.
I was taken through the Dalmeny Estate via roads I hadn’t previously explored. One of the main bonuses, other than the gorgeous rural views, was the fact that this route wasn’t alongside a busy feeder road into Edinburgh.
I enjoyed several beautiful miles through the estate, with sheep and lambs to keep me company alongside the road, several pheasants and even a deer in one of the fields. Sadly, my poor iPhone wasn’t the best at capturing the deer moment so you’ll just have to take my word for it!
Upon leaving the Dalmeny Estate at the end of the diversion the signage didn’t help me out much. After consulting the Spokes map and a bit of help from a friendly driver, I figured out where I was supposed to be going. A quick right turn took me to Dalmeny where I found the NCN1 route signage again and followed it to the Forth Road Bridge.
I was really looking forward to cycling over the bridge. This would be my first time over the famous Scottish suspension bridge and was excited to see it loom up ahead. I had previously cycled the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fran and thought it was an amazing experience.
But once I started it I got properly scared. The bridge encapsulates everything I am terrified of. I could feel the traffic’s vibrations. It was really bloody high up in the air. The bridge has an arc (obviously, it’s a suspension bridge), which stressed me out. There are Samaritans signs for people who are in distress, and that distressed me more. Worst of all, there are seams along the path with quarter inch spacing and I swear I could see the water below. Oh dear goodness me I was terrified. The wind whipped against me and I found it all quite awful – even thinking about it now gies me the boak.
But I made it over.
Of course, the problem with my plan was that once I was over I had to come back. Bit of a flaw really, seeing as the Forth Road Bridge should actually be called the Bridge of Doom.
A quick Mars bar to give me some suger and calm my nerves and I made the return crossing. It wasn’t pretty (well, actually it was gorgeous but you know what I mean). I had to start talking to myself to get over without having a meltdown. Or maybe I did have a meltdown because I was talking to myself?
There’s no denying the views were spectacular, but I was too scared to get off the bike and take any photos. I thought I might drop through the railings or be blown off the side or crash or be too nervous to get back on the bike again. Or the worst fate of all, lose my phone to the watery deep below me. So I didn’t stop.
In a nutshell I crossed the bridge and almost immediately came back. It was windy and terrifying. But good views when I could bear to tear my eyes away from the path, so silver linings and that.
Still scarred and sweating from my bridge adventure (disaster), I decided to do a loop rather than a linear route so came back to the city by way of Kirkliston. This little place has many, many new houses; I was impressed by the sheer number of them. I took a right turn in the village and ended up back on quiet rural roads. No sodding suspension bridges to navigate here! Bliss.
Being in exploration mode I took a little turn off the route and ended up at the back of the airport, which was a dead end. So I had to come back again, but not before taking a photo of the river Almond. Ooh, so pretty.
The rural roads were practically empty. There was hardly anyone about, and on a sunny evening in summer I couldn’t imagine many better things to be doing with my time.
The loop took me about three hours in total and was about 27 miles. I would have been quicker if I’d had any idea about where I was going. And of course that stupid bridge didn’t help what with me freezing up in fear and pedalling like the walking dead.
Here’s the route I took. I suspect there are better options for riders as I did take a busy road into Kirkliston, but the majority of it was very quiet and lovely. If you have an issue with heights, falling off high things, vertigo, a watery death or are generally risk averse to batshit crazy things to do, feel free to avoid the bridge if you want.
There is nothing better than exploring the world around you on the bike. Especially in summer! If you have any route suggestions for me in this area please do let me know – excluding the bridge. I won’t be doing that solo again any time soon! 🙂