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Cycling touring articles by Pat Lloyd and other folk
MOSTLY,WALKING IN THE LAMMERMUIR HILLS by Pat LloydAfter doing our stint on the R.S.F.stand at York Rally we headed north on the maiden voyage of our new to us small motorhome. Armed with all the OS maps of Galloway we somehow found ourselves at Dunbar, as far away east as possible from our proposed destination and possessing only an ancient 4" to the mile Barts map of South East Scotland. So no roughstuff this trip! Leaving our roughstuff shoes, compass and binoculars safely in the van we set off on a lovely route westwards into the Lammermuir hills.Our old map showed an unfenced white road leading towards the Whiteadder reservoir and from there on minor roads to do a circular ride back to Dunbar.The inadequacy of our map soon showed up as none of the surfaced roads leading to farms were shown but the farmers soon redirected us and it was a really lovely route when we finally found it. The descent to the Monynut Water made us wish that we had the tent with us as there was the perfect wild camping spot and judging by the blackened circle of stones on the grass beside the stream we were not the first people to think so. Shortly after the climb up from the Whiteadder reservoir we encountered the green signpost of the Scottish Rights of Way Society informing us that the Herring Road crossed here.Now it just so happened that I had with me a leaflet that I had picked up at the Tourist Office in Dunbar for Walking in the Lammermuir Hills which described the Herring Road.This had been the ancient way from Dunbar to Lauder originally used by the Border people to bring salted herring for use in winter.From where we were standing the Herring Road was a wide metaled track leading off to the right and climbing up the hillside towards some pylons on the skyline. The leaflet had a reasonable diagramn on the back and as I may have mentioned before there's no fool like an old fool and we could always turn back. The first obstacle was the padlocked gate but the sagging fence showed where most people crossed so we lifted the bikes over and pushed on up the excellent gravelled track.This soon headed off to the right towards the pylons while our path now became two heather filled ruts which went straight ahead beside a footpath sign.We were not able to ride but it was not a hard push to the next gate.also locked.Then a good forestry type track appeared to the right so we made for that and were able to ride to where another footpath sign alongside a red painted shed pointed to a gap in the forest.A stile in the wire fence took us into a wide fire break and we were able to ride along a narrow track through long wet grass.Ahead we saw a two hinds and managed to get fairly close before they ran into the woods.We dropped down into a wide cleared area where the West Burn ran at right angles to our track and we went off course for a while as there had been tree planting of deciduous saplings and lots of trodden paths where the forestry workers had been. We managed to climb out from the trees to a broken down stone wall on the skyline and spotted a gate to our left which seemed a good place to have lunch before lifting the bikes over the gate which was firmly bedded into the ground.A new stile to the left with the welcome footpath sign showed that we were back on target. We followed a fence over open moorland with the forest alongsidebehind the wire.Ahead we could see a signpost which outr leaflet told us was at GR649689 and where another signed path came in from the left. The Herring Road went straight ahead towards a high moor with Watch Law on the right and seemed very indistinct. The track from the left was a good two liner so we decided to be sensible for once and abandon the Herring Road and take the better track, this was mostly ridable and all the gates were unlocked.We crossed Dunbar Common and started to descend on a lovely ridable grassy track with views over the sea towards the Bass Rock. There seemed to be a signpost over to the right so we made the mistake of heading there and found that it was only a well used rubbing post and from here things got a little fraught.A well maintained circular sheep pen had us fooled into thinking we were on the right track and we spent a considerable time battling through nettles and thistles before ending up on the wrong side of a gully and then had a perilous descent across a steep grassy slope where Fred's smooth soled cycling shoes were an added hazard.The correct path was finally reached beside a disused farm house where the track was so well defined we couldn't think how we had possibly missed it.A gate led into a field of white bullocks who were far too interested in me in my red jacket and tarmac was reached at the large farm of Deuchrie right beside the signpost pointing back the way we had come.A free wheel took us to Stenton, a village which had been a centre of the woolen trade, the original scales called the Trong which had been used to weigh the packs of wool were now mounted on a block beside the road.The roughstuff took us about three hours, it being 3% miles to the signpost where we left the Herring Road and another 1\ to the farm where the tarmac started.There seemed to be several more interesting off road routes in the area but I don't recommend them without thfi, relevant OS map which is OS67 and which I have now purchased, better late than never.