LEJOG Day 55 – Blair Atholl to Dalwhinnie . 24.55 miles. Cumulative 1006.78 miles.

A mixed bag of weather today, sun,clouds, showers and wind.

Despite camping at Blair Atholl Castle we only got a brief glimpse of the castle from the road after we left the campsite.

The route today followed NCN 7, the first section was on minor roads until we reached the village of Calvine, the remainder was on a dedicated cycle/foot path. A mixture of surfaces which suited us but maybe not so good for cyclists. We saw a few on route, one that we chatted to was on day 10 of cycling LEJOG and was heading to his home in Aviemore for the night before the final push to John O’Groats. The wind made cycling very tricky.

Initially the route took us through forest, but became more exposed as we climbed above the tree line to Drumochter summit, the highest point on the Scottish cycle network. We had to fight a strong headwind, along with squally showers at times. Just before the summit we passed the 1,000 mile point of our walk.

We assumed it would be all down hill from the summit, but it was a mainly flat walk only losing a little altitude on our way to Dalwhinnie, but the wind switched and we had a tail wind to push us along.

Some fantastic scenery again despite the mixed weather.

Our accommodation was The Old School Hostel in Dalwhinnie. We weren’t sure what to expect as it was our first hostel experience but we were pleasantly surprised with our room and the hostels comfortable facilities. The log burner in the lounge made it very cosy.


JOGLE Day 54 – Dunkeld to Blair Atholl. 23.04 miles Cumulative 982.23 miles.

Dunkeld is a town geared up for wealthy tourists who are happy to pay £3.70 for a coffee and buy Smoked Pheasant crisps. Fortunately, the campsite owner pointed us in the direction of the only pub which accepted riff raff. It was very busy but served excellent food. The town also had a community orchard, which we thought was a brilliant idea.

A bright start and on the whole a good day with two short heavy downpours.

Our walk took us through Dunkeld and past the back of the mainly ruined Cathedral. The first hour was spent in the vast immaculate grounds of the Dunkeld House Hotel, following NCN 77 on a traffic free path, beside the River Tay.

Next came our only section on the A9, walking southbound to cross the River Tay before continuing on the NCN 77 on a minor road, with amazing views of the Cairngorms ahead. Just as we were about to re-cross the River Tay, via a community owned bridge, a large military aeroplane flew very low down the valley immediately overhead.

The route then took us to Pitlochry, where we stopped for lunch and stocked up on supplies to see us through the next two days. We were impressed by the town Pitlochry and decided it would be worth a future visit.

After Pitlochry, the road was busier, for the first couple of miles we had pavement which came to an abrupt stop. The last four miles to the campsite there was intermittent pavement, the remainder was spent grass verge hopping.

Our accommodation tonight is at Blair Atholl Castle Caravan Park, a large very well maintained site, with excellent facilities. Blair Castle will be hosting a Highland Games on Sunday. It’s a shame we will miss it. Lynn muttered something about Steve being good at tossing the caber. Steve may have misheard.

LEJOG Day 53 – Perth to Dunkeld 18.76 miles. Cumulative 959.19

A mixed day weather wise, warm sunny spells with a couple of heavy showers, so extra stops were needed for putting and taking off the waterproofs.

The week ahead sees us making our way up the eastern side of the Cairngorms to Inverness.

Our route out of Perth followed the CNC 77, initially along the banks of the River Tay along a dedicated cycle and footpath, until we reached the village of Almondbank. Here we happened upon a village shop selling hot drinks and sausage baps, it would have been rude to just walk past.

Perth subway art

We continued along the cycle route following minor roads. At one point our route was closed for road works but we decided to risk it, rather than follow a diversion along busier roads. Fortunately, there were no roadworks.
We walked through mainly agricultural farm land and the vegetable of the day was garden peas, at a young age they are, unfortunately, not as photogenic as broad beans.

Peas – not as photogenic as the ‘Sidmouth Broad Bean’
Bull in field

A short cut through some woodland took us away from the cycle route and we encountered a deer on the fenced path ahead of us, eventually it decided to jump the barbed wire fence to escape us.
Shortly after rejoining the cycle route, we had our first stretch walking near the A9, which we will no doubt see a lot of in the next couple of weeks.

We left the cycle route at Dunkeld, for our accommodation tonight, camping at Inver Caravan Park. The owners are from Plymouth and moved up a year ago to run the family business. He is a keen Argyle supporter and remains a season ticket holder. He seemed quite normal. He explained there was not a lot else to do in the winter in this part of Scotland. It gets light at 10am and sunset is 2.30pm. Steve then reeled off a list of things he would prefer to do rather than watch Argyle. Visiting the dentist featured. Obviously a day for visitors from Devon, as shortly after we arrived he checked in some people from Newton Abbot

LEJOG Day 52 – Kinross to Perth 16.79 miles. Cumulative 940.43 miles

A functional campsite for last nights stopover, at least it was until someone managed to lock the gents facilities behind them! Steve had to resort to using the ladies, supervised by Lynn, fortunately we we up and about before any one else.

Todays walk took us along NCN route 775, which links Kinross to Perth. Although the route is entirely on road, the majority of it is walking and cycling friendly. We saw a lot of cyclists, but no other walkers and very little traffic, until we reached Bridge of Earn.

The route passed through a lot of small Scottish villages with some beautiful gardens and a mix of arable, livestock farming and Christmas tree plantations. We entered our 15th county, Perthshire.

Our walk was near to the M90 motorway for most of the day and passed through the village of Glenfarg, which was a popular holiday destination for people from Edinburgh when there was a railway and station in the village. The station closed in 1964 and the line closed in 1970. The M90 now runs along the former track bed close to the village.

Just before reaching Perth we had a cafe stop at Bridge of Earn, a popular stop for cyclists. We were disappointed that our Scottish server hadn’t heard of Lands End and we had to describe where it was. I think she regretted asking us about our walk.

As we arrived in Perth too early to book in to the Premier Inn, we felt obliged to visit Wetherspoons for a hot chocolate fix.

LEJOG Day 51 – Dunfermline to Kinross 15.22 miles. Cumulative 923.64 miles.

We had a superb Turkish meal at Rodi last night to finish off our stay in Edinburgh,

After a relatively restful couple of days we were back to normal, carrying our backpacks. We started with a train journey to Dunfermline, to pick up where we left off yesterday.

Our Edinburgh accommodation

A bright start but increasingly cloudy with a few sprinkles and a chilly breeze.

We left Dunfermline on the Fife Pilgrims Way which took us past St Ninians Fife Earth Project, an ambitious project to represent a journey around four continents. Unfortunately, the owner went bankrupt in 2013 before completing it, although the mound representing Europe is visible, defined by three giant barbed mounds and apparently a stone map of Europe, we didn’t climb up to check it out.

This mound represents Europe!

We then passed through some well maintained Forestry Commission land, which restored our confidence in forests after last Saturdays trip through the jungle.

We left the Pilgrims Way at Kelty and a bit of grass verge walking took us to the circular walk around Loch Leven. The area around Loch Leven was formerly the site of 40 mills and factories which used the lochs water to drive machinery. Cashmere yarn is still spun there now, which is supplied to top international buyers. The cashmere fibre comes from Inner Mongolian goats.

We left the loch side walk at Kinross, to pick up a few supplies before heading to our campsite Gallowhill Farm.

We had a strange reception from, we assume, grandmother and grandson, who both wanted to check us in, each in their own disorganised way, when grandson left the reception area grandmother said he was suffering with toothache and had been drinking. When he offered us a lift in his car round to the camping field we declined!

Today was the Ironman Triathlon in Lanzarote and our friend Andy was competing, his third Lanzarote Ironman. So we followed his progress as we walked via the event competitor tracking app. As we write this he has completed the 3.8km swim and 180km bike and has just started the 42 km run. He started at 7.15am and his estimated finish time at the time of writing was 10pm. Well done Andy, keep going!

Andy finishing the bike leg.

JOGLE Day 50 – Edinburgh to Dunfermline 19.48 miles. Cumulative 908.42 miles.

Our original plan was to walk to Dunfermline and stay at The Premier Inn, however they were charging over £200 for the night when we tried to book, not even including a hearty breakfast.

Instead we chose plan B, which was to walk to Dunfermline and catch the train back, two additional advantages being an extra evening in Edinburgh and another day of walking without the rucksacks.

We picked up National Cycle Network route 1 again and soon left evidence of the city behind us, following a former railway line, before passing by some very nice housing in the suburbs.

Lynn is a closet airplane spotter and as our route went directly under the flight path for planes going into Edinburgh Airport she took a few photos of the incoming jets. Very sad.

We left the cycle way to follow The John Muir Way which took us along the bank of the Firth of Forth, through Dalmeny Estate and past Barnbougle Castle to the charming harbour village of Queensferry.

We passed under the impressive rail bridge which we crossed on our trip back to Edinburgh.

We felt obliged to stop and have a coffee in Queensferry and the proprietor made the mistake of asking how far we were walking. Ten minutes later we were on our way having signed up a blog follower.

We rejoined NCN 1 to cross the Firth of Forth on the Forth Road Bridge, quite a surreal experience as the only traffic allowed on the bridge now is public transport and small motorcycles, so the cyclists and pedestrians outnumbered vehicles. Just after leaving the bridge we entered our 14th county ‘The Kingdom of Fyfe’.

We continued on the cycle route to Dunfermline East and the train station. We had to put a bit of a spurt on near the end to ensure we caught the 1500 train, when we spotted the next one had been cancelled.

It was a shame we didn’t get to visit the centre of Dunfermline, given that it was announced in the morning that it had been awarded City Status as part of the Queens Jubilee celebrations.

LEJOG Day 49 – Gorebridge to Edinburgh 19.93 miles. Cumulative 888.94 miles

A perfect day for walking, sunny with a light breeze.

Our day started with a train journey back to Gorebridge, carrying lightweight rucksacks containing only our essentials.

A short stretch of road at the start took us to the River Esk where we spot Scottish broad beans growing in a field beside the path. We omitted to include Scotland when we mentioned where broad beans were grown on Day 21, we apologise for the omission.

Scottish broad beans, a feisty variety.

Before entering some woodland, Steve finds a bridge where he can copy Lynn’s impression of Kate Winslet, or was he referring to his size 12 feet, which have caused problems in finding the right boots.

The wild garlic filled woodland leads us back to the National Cycle Network route 1, which we followed to Musselburgh, the route is mainly traffic free today and followed the Penicuik to Musselburgh Cycle/Walkway.

At Musselburgh we leave the cycle route to take a look at the town and walk along the shoreline, before following the John Muir Way back to the city centre, passing below Arthur’s Seat.

To make the most of the sunny day we decided to have a ice cream and Lynn researched the best ice cream shop in Edinburgh, which is ‘Mary’s Milk Bar’ in the Grassmarket district . The reviews said there is often a queue, but it moves quickly and is worth the wait. We were about 20th when we joined the queue and it was definitely worth the wait. We sat and enjoyed the ice creams with a view of the castle, together with hundreds of others in the Grassmarket area before heading back to our accommodation.

Steve eventually at the front of the queue
Mary’s Milk Bar, queue and ….oh yes Lynn.

Although we walked nearly 20 miles today, it felt like a day off without the backpacks.

LEJOG Day 48 – Innerleithen to Gorebridge 20.03 miles. Cumulative 869.01miles

With a stormy night forecast we decided to upgrade our tent pitch to a camping pod. It was a wise decision as it came in very wet and windy by mid evening. We are banned from visiting Innerleithen in future as we always bring bad weather, when we visited in 2016 there was a thunderstorm that flooded the town.

After the storm had passed a sunny start to the day, but still quite breezy. The breeze turned into a strong wind at altitude.

For the last three days we had followed a similar route to when we did JOGLE, so it was good to strike out in a new direction.

We set out to follow NCN route 1 again, as marked on the map, however after less than 2 miles we found a sign advising it re-started in 13 miles, because of a busy road. However, the cycle route did continue as the Coast and Castles Route from Edinburgh to Newcastle. As it happened the road wasn’t that busy, we probably saw more planes going in to land at Edinburgh Airport than cars on the road.

The road climbed steadily up a wide valley for most of the morning, passing through a golf course and stunning scenery. We found a sheltered spot for lunch just before reaching the head of the valley. shortly after re-starting the view opened up ahead to the Firth of Forth with Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh in the distance. We left the Scottish Borders and entered county number 15, Midlothian.

We continued along the cycle route to Gorebridge, where we caught the train to Edinburgh where we are staying for the next three nights. No, we aren’t having a rest we will be catching the train back to Gorebridge in the morning and walking back to our accommodation.

On reaching Edinburgh, our first stop was Cotswold Leisure where Steve bought a new pair of boots. We then made our way to our accommodation at Edinburgh City Suites.

Borthwick Castle

LEJOG Day 47 – Melrose to Innerleithen 17.51 miles. Cumulative 848.98 miles

We need to start with a correction in yesterday’s blog, Day 46, Steve incorrectly assumed that Lynn’s pose on the suspension bridge above the River Tweed was intended as yet another demonstration of the size of a Sea Bass she caught in 2007.

Apparently the pose was intended to mimic Kate Winslet’s iconic pose from the film Titanic.

Steve apologises for failing to spot the resemblance.

The heavy rain showers continued overnight so it was good to have a solid roof over our heads and a hearty dinner and cooked breakfast to replenish the calories we are burning.

Our route followed National Cycle Network route 1, a mixture of lanes and tracks. An easy day underfoot, undulating walking following the River Tweed upstream, passing through a lot of Scottish Forestry Commission plantations.

The scenery didn’t disappoint, with spring flowers in full bloom and fantastic views up the valley ahead. We passed a few other walkers, cyclists and runners making the most of the sunshine and largely traffic free route.

We arrived in Innerleithen in time for a late lunch, before checking in at the campsite.