Tuesday 3rdJune 2008
Edinburgh to North Queensferry
With only 20 or so miles to go to the next B&B we had left ourselves time to have a further look round Edinburgh. Over breakfast Bill and Betty reminisced about their tandem rides and also about their adventures on the continent with a converted Bedford van. His skills as a Royal Engineer were certainly required to keep the van going in the days when their family was young. Betty had never been able to ride a bike, but was quite at home as stoker on a tandem. It was lovely to hear about their adventures and to see photos from the album from 50 years ago. After a lengthy breakfast we took the bus into the centre again, this time to look at St Mary’s Cathedral which is Scottish Episcopal (Anglican). When St Giles became Presbyterian in the late 1600’s loyal to William II, those loyal to the Stuart cause left to worship elsewhere. After nearly 200 years a new Cathedral was eventually built (designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott) and the foundation stone laid in 1874. After visiting the Cathedral we made our way to the Dean Gallery - one of the buildings of the National Gallery for Scotland of which there are several in Edinburgh. Christine enjoyed looking round – the modern art was not so appealing to me! Afterwards we walked back into the centre to have our sandwiches in the park alongside Princes Street overlooking the castle. It was then time to head back to Bill and Betty’s and load up the tandem for a short ride to Queensferry and a view of the Forth Road and Rail bridges. On the way we passed a New Zealand couple on bikes heavily laden. They looked as though they were cycling the End to End but when we chatted briefly to them we found out that they had just given up their flat in Edinburgh and they were on their way back home to New Zealand, heading north!! Looking very puzzled and telling them that I thought they were heading in the wrong direction, he explained that they were catching a ferry from North Queensferry to Europe and were going to cycle in Europe before returning home. They were running late and were getting anxious as to whether they would make the ferry in time. The young woman was already struggling with the weight on her bike. When we eventually crossed the road bridge over an hour later after a tea break at South Queensferry, their ferry was just leaving – we wondered whether they got there in time.
The map and directions for the B&B that night suggested that the house was right underneath the Forth Railway Bridge – it couldn’t have been much closer. The final pier for the main bridge was only a matter of 30 feet away from the corner of the house and every time a train passed overhead there was a sound like rumbles of thunder and a rushing wind. At six o’clock this occurred every 10 minutes or so, but fortunately by the time we went to bed the trains were far less frequent and we had begun to get adjusted to the noise. They didn’t disturb us at all in the night. The bedroom window gave us a lovely view across the Firth looking west towards the road bridge and an evening stroll around the village gave us magnificent views of Edinburgh to the south and east. We wondered which house belonged to Gordon Brown. The landlady didn’t have anywhere secure to put the bike overnight – we were quite prepared to lock it up outside, but she insisted that we bring it inside the house over night. We just managed to get it through the porch and into the hall – it was a tight fit.
Mileage 17.6 miles Total 90.7 miles