1997 John O’Groats to Lands End – Day 4 Pitlochry to Galashiels

I anticipated this to be one of the longest days today, getting down towards the Scottish Border and hopefully meeting up with Mum and Dad.   I left Pitlochry at 09:30 and managed for the most part of the day to keep off the main A9 which was a blessing.   I had a minor hiccup in the morning when my saddle disintegrated but luckily it was only a couple of bolts that had worked their way loose.

I reached Perth without any further trouble and then it was on southwards with the anticipation of crossing the Forth Bridge.  The weather was very warm and sunny but there was also a slight breeze which kept me at a nice temperature.  I stopped at Kinross for a milk shake and then on through Cowdenbeath before eventually hitting the A90 on the approach to the bridge.   A very unpleasant stretch of road for about 2 miles but then the bridge came into view and thankfully there was a cycle path across.   As I reached the bridge, the weather changed dramatically.   It got very cold and the top of the bridge was invisible in the mist.   I took a few minutes to take in the view and a snap of the old Forth railway bridge before riding across to the outskirts of Edinburgh.   Here I had to make the decision on whether to divert round the outskirts or cycle in ands then out of the city centre.  I decided on the latter and probably with hindsight, was the wrong decision.

The road into the city was very busy and unpleasant.   Cyclist were diverted onto the pathway, which they claimed was a cycle track, but having to stop every 100 yards or so to get off and bumping up and down pavements was not my idea of a cycle track.   Then the track just vanished altogether so I gave up and took my life in my hands and cycled on the road into the city centre.  It took nearly two hours navigating through the city before coming out the other side, tired and hungry.   It was now about 6.00pm and I was beginning to doubt if I was going to make it to Galashiels tonight as it was still about another 30 miles.   I stopped for a sandwich and bar of chocolate at a garage before heading on along the A7.

Having just passed a little place called Middleton, the weather took a turn for the worst and the mist came down.   I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to make Galashiels tonight and decided to give Mum & Dad a ring to let them know.   I got through okay and they were only about 5 miles further up the road as they had come out to meet me.   I decided to soldier on and met them a little further up the road.   The good news was that they had left Galashiels in the sunshine and that the mist and fog was only local.   I unloaded my saddle-bag and attached my rear light and set forth again.   I climbed for a few more miles before starting a long, gradual decent into Stow.

I really tanked down the hill, top gear, at Tour de France standards, Miguel would have been impressed.  I met Mum and Dad just before Stow and was warned of a long climb out of Stow to Galashiels.   Well, I never came across anything more that a gradual slope and the last mile or so was downhill into the centre of Galashiels.   I checked my speedo and had clocked over 111 miles today.   A very long day, but really satisfying at the end of it.   I loaded up the bike as the camp-site was 4 miles outside Galashiels and now it was getting dark.   Chicken and chips in Galashiels before finding the tent and my first night under canvas.   A good day, and now with support the rest of the way was feeling really confident about reaching Lands End.

Daily Mileage: 111.50 miles

Average Speed: 10.50 mph

Cycling Time: 10h 34m

Cumulative Mileage: 325.33 miles