South Queensferry

I cycled across the Forth Road Bridge and it was HORRIFIC (in a good way)

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.

Dalmeny Estate

Dalmeny Estate

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.

Forth Road Bridge

The cycle path along 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.

Fife to Edinburgh

Triumphant crap photo from Fife to Edinburgh!

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?

Bike on Forth Road Bridge

Bike was not fussed by Forth Road Bridge

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.

Farmland between Kirkliston and Cramond

Farmland between Kirkliston and Cramond

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.

River Almond

Standing on a regular stone bridge at the River Almond

woods around airport

The woods around the airport

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.

Rural road to airport

Rural roads like this a stone’s throw from the city

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.

Cycling selfie

Happy cycling selfie in the sun

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! 🙂

A stunning cycle to South Queensferry

I’ve been out and about on my bike quite a bit these last few weeks. I’ve been out to East Lothian to do a fabulous route around farmland and quiet rural roads with the Belles on Bikes, looped down to Portobello and up to Morningside and been pootling down my regular paths around Roseburn, Drylaw, Corstorphine, Trinity and Davidson’s Mains.

Suffice to say there’s been plenty pedalling. Sadly, not so many photos. Being conscious of a lack of updates, I thought I would share a gorgeous route I did in November out to South Queensferry, complete with photies. This is a really good one.

View to Forth Bridge on way to South Queensferry NCN 76

It’s another road-free lovely, especially if you’re starting in the west of the city like me. Much of the north section of the ever-wonderful Innertube links to NCN 1 and 76, which is what you want to get onto for this cycle. So whatever way you choose, get your bike down to Cramond. I did it via the cut through path at the back of Barnton.

There’s a wee side street off the main road at Cramond, following NCN 1 and 76. Incredibly, there are Shetland ponies in a field, in Cramond, in the city, in Edinburgh. I had no idea these guys were even here and I only live up the road!

Shetland ponies in Cramond

Past the ponies there’s a stone bridge crossing the River Almond. It’s well worth stopping to take in the sound of the river and the views. It feels like Hobbiton. Very beautiful indeed, and it was doubly pretty with all the autumn colours in the trees on my last jaunt.

More of the River Almond

River Almond at Cramond

After the bridge, NCN 1 and 76 diverge. You pass the Cramond Brig, go through a wee metal gate and the NCN 76 is all yours. This route takes you through farmland to the Dalmeny Estate and eventually out into South Queensferry and it’s really quite a stunner.

It’s about 8 miles in total one way, mostly on unmade road or unmade path so ideal for the MTB, cyclocross or hybrid bike, but your skinny road tyres will definitely not appreciate the terrain! Also, as an added bonus, when I did the route I didn’t see a single car.

A road less travelled on the NCN 76

Farmland a stone's throw from Cramond

More autumn colours

After a couple of miles the route takes you through the Dalmeny Estate. By this time you’ll be able to see the Forth estuary, with the bridges peeking out now and again. The coast is juxtaposed by manicured lawns and plenty of woodland, with the estate’s house quite the impressive sight.

Dalmeny House in the Estate

Across the Dalmeny Estate to East Lothian

The route continues to be reasonably well sign-posted through woodlands and muddyish path, and you hug the coast until eventually coming out almost on top of the Forth Bridge!

Autumn colours in the Dalmeny Estate View to Forth Bridge on NCN 76

There are loads of places in South Queenferry to load up on tea and cake. There’s bike parking on the main street, with Sheffield stands to keep your trusty steed safe while you scoff. Ideal!

I believe there are a lot of routes from South Queensferry over the Forth Road Bridge and into Fife. So far I haven’t ventured across the bridge yet, but that is up for exploring now that spring is here. I will definitely do it when it’s not too windy!

If you fancy having a go at this cycle I’ve mapped the route for you starting from west Edinburgh, but you can add your own route in front to stretch it further. Check it out. It’s very easy, hardly any gradient and bursting full of views and perfect spots for picnics and pit stops. I heartily recommend it! 🙂