Posted by: brendaintheboro | May 19, 2012

Road Angels to the Rescue

Thursday 17th May 2012

We were booked onto the train to Edinbrugh so that we could cycle the Coast and Castles route. The weather forecast wasn’t too good but we thought we’d give it a go anyway. The bikes were all packed and we left for the station at 6.20am. The train journey was good and East Coast Mainline service was excellent helping with the transfer of cycles and luggage at Newcastle.

We arrived on time at Waverley station with a fine rain starting to descend. Not bad, we thought and after talking to an American couple who were taking their bikes up to Bridge of Orchy, we found our way up a ramp to the exit. The old station is being extensively modernised as the old stonework is decaying.

We had a problem getting out of the city as there are also extensive roadworks on Princes Street. We asked quite a few people if they knew where the route was but no one knew and we couldn’t remember. We found our way around the back of the castle perched on an old volcanic plug. I didn’t manage to get a photo but did get one of a monument in the gardens.

We eventually found our way to the Meadows  where we recognised where we were and could pick up the signs for route 1. That made the going easier and we found our way through some new build apartments until we came to the Innocent Railway path.

The Innocent Rail Tunnel

This path has been better marked that previously and was easier to find in the maze of buildings as they have put blue arrow markers on the kerb edges. I always like to go through here as once through it is not like being in a city with lots of greenery. We were reminded of a previous trip this way when DH had to go and buy a new wheel as the old one gave up the ghost on this path. Once out of the tunnel the rain started to fall in earnest and we put on full wet weather gear – not that it did much good after hours in the saddle. We rode along to Dalkeith following the signage and then the fun began!! or Not.  My DS had said I should use the system on the iphone he has provided me with but it didn’t work  or just maybe I’m not too tech savvy. Anyway I’m known as Mrs Map and I like a paper one so bought one for the area that I didn’t already have and tried to work from both. It took us nearly an hour to get out of Dalkeith onto the road to Pathhead but avoiding the A68 with it’s busy traffic. We got there but then encountered more roadworks and found our way through Preastonbank, East and West Saltoun and on towards Gifford. We were advised to take the road through Longyester to Danskine to avoid a climb on a main road and then we started riding the route across the Lammermuir hills.It was really too late in the day, but we are nothing if not persistent and despite the rain I hoped to get to my friend in Hume. The rain came down in torrents and the roads were awash. Streams ran not only at the sides but down the middle as well, pooling into ponds on flatter sections. However, we had started, so doggidly pushed oneven though both of us were feeling the effects of cold and wet. It was nearly 7.30pm when we went through another ‘ford’ and a small red car passed by. The only car we had seen since starting this section. They stopped and asked where we were going and we explained but it became obvious that we wouldn’t make it. We decided we would have to camp somewhere so I asked if they had a small patch of garden on which we could pitch the tent.  These two road angels offered us their spare room for the night. They live in the small village of Longformacus, which is in the middle of nowhere but work in the city and were driving back from work. It was still about 4 miles to peddle but with the promise of being out of the rain we pushed on. I was having a bit of difficulty in focusing my eyes and I believe may have been beginning to be hypothermic. Andrew and Sharon were waiting for us to arrive at their cottage and welcomed us in . They had the fire on and invited us to use the shower in their bedroom. They have a couple of hens and Sharon made us cheese and tomatoe omlettes with salad and rice. It didn’t matter to them that our panniers were dripping onto the floor, as they said it would wipe up. We were invited to dry our clothes on the radiators and around the fire. It was so good to be blessed by these road angels.

Matt25:38  ‘when saw we thee a stranger and took thee in.’  

Can you see our stuff drying on the radiator?

Friday , 18th May 2012

After a good nights sleep , it was still raining , so we decided not to go to see Helen but to head on to Berwick on Tweed as we need to be home by Monday.  Sharon even gave us a parting gift of two mounted photos that she had taken of the road where we had met. She and Andrew are hoping to get some of their photos into galleries.

 Just out of the house , we were off the bikes and pushing up the hill, as there were more roadworks with one way traffic.We would not have been popular with cars if we had held them up so we walked inside the cones. After 6 miles, we reached the main road to Duns and decided to ride the main road, A6105, as it wasn’t too busy. We had a brief stop in a bus shelter just after Foulden where we made the decision to take a train back home. We were out to enjoy , not to endure. There is a cycle crossing on the A1 at Berwick but you have to be very careful as it is not controlled.

 Once at the railway station, the very helpful East Coast mainline ticket office lady explained we would need cycle reservations which she couldn’t get until 14:11 and we would have a 2 hour wait. Not a problem, we would wait. She then told us that the Castle hotel , just up from the station had a roaring fire going and we would be better waiting up there. She was right and we had a pleasant lunch hogging the fire and gently steaming.

 Once again, helpful platform staff helped us to load bikes and panniers onto the train and phoned ahead to tell staff at Darlington we would be arriving.

We were home by 5.00pm. We don’t regret going because  meeting Andrew and Sharon has shown us once again, that there are many good people in the world. So often in the press, all we see is doom and gloom and reports of bad things. We salute those good people who unwittingly and unselfishly , are  road angels.



  1. Love the road angel story! We agree that the world is far more good than bad, and meeting people like this is one of our favourite parts of touring. All’s well that ends well 🙂

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