Start/Finish: Edinburgh - Berwick upon Tweed
Terrain: First 35miles flat and easy, bikepath/established trail, then it gets bumpy. Short sections of thick vegetation (R. Tyne)
Transport: train stations at start/end. Perrymans Buses link Eyemouth, Cockburnspath, Dunbar, Berwick, Edinburgh
Route: Map Part 1 Map Part 2
A long day, but a fun project to find a route with interest between Edinburgh and England. Nice rural and coastal bits with hills, but unlike me you should be able to enjoy a prevailing tailwind. Unless as I suspect global warming has "broken" this! If you want to break the 70mile barrier, start in central Edinburgh and follow the bikepath around Holyrood Park into Brunstane, part of the John Muir Way and clear on the OS map.
|Brunstane Path - from Brunstane Station|
Down the recently-surfaced Brunstane Burn Path towards the coast and into Musselburgh, thank God for the garage there as the public loos were locked at this early hour and I was in pain. Which chocolate bars to buy for the right to use the facilities is probably the quickest decision I'll ever make.
I continued much more comfortably following arrows and signs and police cones prepared for the Edinburgh Marathon tomorrow (I never got my entry in this year - possibly over-compensating for that today!) then cut off along the John Muir Way which heads East between the wierd landscape of Ash Lagoons and Musselburgh Race Course, through Portobello and around the decommissioned coal power station, Those chimneys are coming down as the facility get refitted with gas-turbines! This was the first of two concrete walkways around powerstations that featured on today's route. There were some nice bits too I promise!
Re-joining the marathon route, which gets much nicer as it leaves Cockenzie behind and parallels Seton Rocks/Sands, I followed a path along a quiet winding road through hawthorns, about the 15 and 21 mile points of the race. I turned right up a lane by the Golf Course and then into Longniddry Dean, then out onto the road at the top and along pavement for a mile to Longniddry Station where Sharon was waiting patiently with some replacement water for the bottles.
About 10 very easy miles done, fairly urban, was looking forward to getting into the countryside a bit more...
|Looking back along Longniddry - Haddington Railway Bike Path|
|Abbey Bridge over River Tyne|
The bikepath finishes at Abbey Bridge, from where a much more rustic riverside path continues via a style beneath one of the bridge's arches. At this time of year (late Spring) the route was already fairly overgrown in patches, so my pace slowed accordingly, and I was glad to be wearing calf-guards as there were a few nettles hiding in there! Otherwise it was fine to run, with care, I'm not sure what it would be like in July/August, or if it gets any maintenance.
The river is quite modest, the scene was very rural now, if you ignored the A1 a couple of fields away, and it all felt very English already! Literally through the hamlet of Sandy's Mill, ncluding across someone's garden via gates with signs that ask you to respect the owner's privacy, i.e., don't loiter. Then past Hailes Castle
|Hailes Castle across the River Tyne|
|Mouth of the Scottish River Tyne|
It was almost sunny in Dunbar, and it was busy. Maybe too busy for a thirsty runner who'd run 30 miles. I grabbed myself a couple bottles of powerade and got on my way, again needing my map to find the path out of town onto the coast - just so easy to just keep following the road instead especially when a bit tired.
|Leaving Dunbar, about to brave more golf balls|
I sped up and kept my head low, glad when the fairways were behind and I turned a coastal corner away from that wind for half a mile. Only to re-enter more golf-ball avoidance territory and then a large opencast lime quarry. You may have gathered this wasn't my favourite bit of the route. Although not grumpy, I probably hadn't eaten enough to be enjoying my day's chosen activity at this feeling wasn't helped by the non-prevailing NE wind tilting me a bit from the sea! Thankfully at Barns Ness, with its big white lighthouse, the coast swings more SE and I really felt the difference, especially enjoying the shelter of the dunes there. Lovely white-sand beaches followed, spoiled only by the blight of Torness Nuclear Powerstation. And so I was routed onto another concrete nature trail around a powerstation, where I got to run above the sea-water cooling inlets and the site of an infamous jellyfish incident.
|A bit overgrown heading towards Cockburnspath|
A dramatic, brief scenery change as the path veered inland then dropped through trees into "the Linn" which felt like a rainforest environment with its ferns, dark greens, waterfall and canopy instead of sky. At the bottom of this was some tiresome shingle beach, pretty, but tiresome.
|Dunglass (High contrast)|
Just over 40 miles done, about 27 to go, and having sat down to eat a muffin, half a packet of cheesy watsits and a vending-machine-made cappacino (with powdered-milk-crutons), I was finding it difficult to keep up with the girls as we headed downhill right past the start of the southern-upland-way (mistake) and under the A1 by Cove. So we just followed the road down to Pease Bay Caravan Park, momentarily joining the SUW before following the road a little South then taking the steps North which were well marked as being part of the "Berwickshire Coastal Trail". Which was immediately excellent! Up onto the cliffs proper now, 50m above the North Sea, then back inland to pick up a track winding gently down a vale of bracken and bluebells, then taken right gently uphill to and through a farm and out into fields.
The signposts were pretty good, when they were present and you actually saw them. A couple times along this very hilly coastal section, we felt a bit lost and travelled of course. Okay the general rule of keep the sea on your left applies a bit, but its always more comfortable to be on the official route. So yeah a bit of map-faffing on my part, we did eventually concede to the need to climb fairly steeply South on damp divotted ground, climb a fence into a field of curious bullocks, and thankfully re-attain the waymarkers E, eventually higher into the murk and onto a single-track road about 220m above sea-level, the highest point of the journey today. This was Dowlaw Road, and it was a shame we were up in the mist because I'm sure the views would have been pretty good. It certainly had a remote feel, being so exposed and well away from the busy A1. At Dowlaw Farm we ignored the option of visiting "Fast Castle" provided by a fingerpost, instead continuing more directly for the pub at Berwick.
|Heading towards St. Abbs Head|
At St. Abbs, we made our way down to a cafe right next to the harbour for some drinks (and a big slab of malteseer cake that I'd strongly reccommend) before continuing South to the surfing hotspot of Coldingham Bay. After another short climb over a low headland we were onto a nice secluded, grassy cove for a bit then some easier cliff-top running took us quickly into the top of Eyemouth, quite a metropolis after the last 25 miles.
|St. Abbs from the North|
|Lower Burnmouth Harbour|
At Marshall Meadows Caravan Park we missed the path back upon the cliff-top and ended up at a dead-end of cut-grass surrounded by stone wall and railway. After some very soggy nettle-bashing (low point of the day) we found the narrow path again, along the top of the cliffs, and soon the industrial estate marking the Northern frontier of Berwick was in view, not too far away. Then the housing estate. Yet teasingly the clifftops veered away, curving around what's marked on the map as Magdalene Fields. The trail was a bit rough and our shoes laden with water now, it really had become beer-o-clock. Thankfully on arriving at the Caravan Park, we could finally head up a track, around the leisure centre and up a lane direct to the train station, quickly grab some drier gear and head straight for the bar in the Castle Inn. Mission accomplished. Those beers and crisps tasted very fine. 6:30pm arrival I think, pretty chuffed with that as it meant plenty time in the pub to refuel and hydrate.