A drive to Dunbar with the tandem for a ride to collect my last two cycle quest checkpoints in the Lothians.
It took the best part of two hours to drive to Dunbar, being stuck behind a number of lorries and tractors on the A1. We left the car in the swimming pool car park and headed west with a chilly tailwind off the North Sea helping us along. We made swift progress in the sunshine, initially riding along what was the old A1 before turning north through Whitekirk (which has a church that isn't white) and past Tantallon Castle with views of Bass Rock in the background. Having visited Tantallon Castle before we kept riding into North Berwick for lunch at Tea at Tiffany's, where beans on toast followed by a coconut slice hit the spot.
After lunch we continued west along the main road to Dirleton, hitting a very rough stretch of potholes on the way - fortunately staying up right. The cycle quest checkpoint at Dirleton Kirk was easy to find - somewhat easier than finding the entrance to Dirleton Castle! The assistant at reception kindly unlocked a gate so we could store our tandem more securely whilst we visited. The castle is worth a visit - lots of rooms to explore and definitely worth the discounted rate given for our newly acquired English heritage membership.
From Dirleton we headed south through Drem, making our next stop at Chester's Hill-fort, an iron age hill-fort strangely located near the foot of the biggest hill in the area! Having visited Maiden Castle in Dorset just a few weeks before this hill-fort doesn't in any way compare, but was nonetheless worth a quick stop. From there it was a long climb over the Garleton Hills before a big descent to the A1. Getting onto the roundabout at the A1 proved difficult as it appeared the southbound carriageway was closed and there was a relentless stream of traffic from our right.
Ridewithgps then did its worst with the route it had plotted and completely unnecessarily took us through a council estate in Haddington, over a footbridge and through some narrow lanes to pick up the road towards Gifford. I have ridden the main road between Haddington and Gifford before and was prepared for the straight uphill drags. We had planned for a second cafe stop at Lanterne Rouge in Gifford, but time was short so we picked up supplies at the local shop and consumed them on a bench outside the church before collecting the cycle quest checkpoint answer from two plaques nearby.
From Gifford the route was uphill for a mile to our high point for the day, where we turned east into the chilly headwind for a generally downhill ride back towards Dunbar. We found a neat little route under the A1 just south of Dunbar (marked as a private road with a cycle path) but the lane from there into Dunbar was an almost continuous string of potholes. Having nearly completed our ride there was just one last event as we rode past a park entrance and a child shot out from the gate on his bike heading straight towards us and threatening to take us all out. A combination of sharp manoeuvring on both our parts somehow miraculously avoided a collision which would not have otherwise ended well for any of us.
All in all it was a very enjoyable ride in the sunshine, if a little cool for the time of year.