Under normal circumstances, the prospect of cycling around coastal bluffs with inshore whitecaps and grey skies is enough to quell any desire for riding more than absolutely necessary.
But as we neared Berwick-Upon-Tweed, and took in our first views of Scotland, we felt a surge of energy that propelled us on against the elements north towards the border.
Following National Cycle Network 1 we rolled through England’s northern most town of Berwick-Upon-Tweed before linking onto Network 76 and crossing into our final country.
My growing sense of worry, as we entered on quiet roads, was that there would be no sign or acknowledgement at the border. The result of which would have been a huge anticlimax and sent dad into a period of moping, when all along the image that had kept me going was that of us standing proud: family, bikes, and The Sign!
So it came with a huge sense of relief as our narrow lane crossed a major road intersection that we spied our chance for glory. Anticlimax and sulk averted.
Being in Scotland now means a chance to be back on the ‘right side of the law’ as wild camping here is legal. Yet on our first night we camped up on a hillside farm in the Borderlands (thanks Pete) and spend the final hour before sunset gazing out over the Cheviot Hills and Northumbrian coast of England. A fitting way to end country four.
Over the following week (continuing on with the SusTrans route north) we swept up through Eyemouth into East Lothian and along the Firth of Forth, passing centuries old buildings worn away by harsh North Sea elements and stopping at intervals to admire colourful fishing vessels gliding in and out of quaint village ports.
The occasional benefit of strategically placed trees and shelters became paramount in dodging heavy downpours and one such occasion we found ourselves talking to a local who’d previously cycled NZ with her husband. As rain clouds threatened -and conversation blossomed- we heartily welcomed her invitation to camp on the lawn, along with the -as yet unknown- offer of home cooking and a relaxed evening full of relived travel stories -Thanks Michaela and Andy for a great night!
Cutting north, Edinburgh was humming with the start of the fringe but the volume of traffic was no place for cyclists. Spurred on by another catch up with a mate, we pushed over the Forth bridge and rode along the Fife Coastal Route to Kirkaldy -following our noses all the way to a delicious BBQ and night off our camping matresses (Thanks to our big Scot’s friend with the kiwi connection: choice bro!)
One thing increasingly evident as time goes by is the beating our gear has taken after eight months of travel: shoes are split, trousers have been worn through and re-patched, drive chains stretched, two of the three matresses have popped… the latest thing is the zip on the tent which has ceased to function, the result of which has led to a stich up job with a narrow ‘crawling’ entrance to get in.
Each evening we’re forced to stage our own re-birth as we wiggle head first into the bedroom (well, only room!) aided in true midwifery manner by a child pulling us into the world of our tent’s inside.
But in puritanical tour-cycling fashion, anything that still has even a remotley viable chance of being used continues on our journey; carried until it’s ceremoniously dumped after the last kilometre..
Which, as we’re now less than two weeks away from finishing, isn’t that long to go…