The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

Late to rise, rushing out the door to catch my bus, with no time to get on the internet first thing this morning.

My menaces has always, and will always be headwinds, the older I get the more troublesome they become, so when the weatherman told us that the winds of the past few days would decrees, no one was happier than I, plans were made.

Earlier today I stowed my bike in the hold of the Glasgow bus and pressed my bus pass into service once more. Less than one hour later I was disembarking in Glenrothes, the start of today’s foray into the Lomond hills. It was an easy ride over to Leslie then onto a little unclassified road that takes you over the bealach between west and east Lomond. The road up is not all that steep and with many false summits you get a chance to draw breath on the little flats as you clime. The day was not the best for sightseeing and since most of those sights will be behind you anyway, you have little option but to just to keep pressing on ever upwards. I stopped half way up to look down onto the Ballo and Holl Reservoirs, before plodding on. As you reach the top of the pass the woodland become thicker an although clear felling has taken place here in the past new self seeded trees have grown up to take their place. As you reach the hollow between the peaks there is a car-park and what looks like toilet block, here numerous signs pointing you onto paths taking you either onto the east or west Lomond Hill. Over the top, now if you are familiar with this road I’m sure it would be a big weeeeeeeeeeeee all the way down, what is a much steeper side of the hill, and all the way into Falkland, but I was devoid of such knowledge and the road was narrow, potholed and dank, so I was taking it carefully today.

Falkland is like no other town in Fife it has that Brig of Done feel about it, its ill-shaped homes spilling out and encroaching at every angle into the narrow streets. All finding their way into the town square, dominated by a church and then the Palace itself. There was a castle here before the palace, that was home to the Mac Duff family, whose head was the Thane, later Earl of Fife. The town and palace are worth spending time exploring, however today the Palace was closed to visitors.

Out of Falkland and on into Freuchie (don’t you just love that name), all I remember about Freuchie is that it had a great cricket team at one time and played for Scotland in some championship or other. I carried on the road to Langdyle, turning left just after the farm and heading along the ridge road for Craigrothie, it is years since I was up this way and I had forgotten how hilly it is. Down into Ceres, Pitscottie and home.

I have always been known as a hill climber and endurance rider rather than a sprinter, but alas I have added a few stone since those days.

I no longer really enjoy driving, it is a convenient way to get from A to B and the van will give me shelter for the night, and that is about it. There is so much I still wish to see, and travelling by bus with the bike in the boot works well for me. However, I can only do so on the big intercity buses the small rural buses are a no-no. Now that coronavirus looks to be with us for a wile, I am seriously looking at a lightweight folding bike that I can easily carry onto bus or train. And one in particular has caught my eye, it is made from carbon fibre and is a true featherweight, and of course, since it is the one that I fancy, very expensive, ho-hum.

My ride today was not all that far in miles but a lot of hard work went into climbing up hills and down dales. This is what makes it so worthwhile for me, awaken that sense of achievement, and like Oliver, will always leave me asking for more. Keep the peddles turning.

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