The wind was in the west and gusting. We wanted to do out for a ride, but didn’t fancy cycling into the wind and fighting against it for half the ride, so we took a train to Bathgate. Now before you get the idea that this was just a soft option, it was not, we decided to go via Cairnpapple in the Bathgate Hills. We had hardly left the station when we started up a 16% hill, but the sun was shining and for the most part we were cycling through a tunnel of trees which gave shelter from the wind.

The first top we reached was The Knock (Knock is a Gaelic word meaning hill) which affords fine views all around. Local rumour has it that this was the site of a coven of witches up until the 17th century. A little to the north you look down on a ring of stones in field which looks like an ancient henge, however it only dates back to 1998 as a birthday present to the farmer from his son. There was apparently an ancient standing stone somewhere near here, the Clinkin Stane, but this disappeared sometime in the late 19th century, evidently some local farmer felt that it was in the way.

From the Knock it was a quick down then up to get to Cairnpapple, this is a genuinely ancient site (currently managed by Historic Scotland and so expensive to visit), which has been in use since roughly 3500 BC. After a quick visit to the top (we didn’t want to pay to go into the cairn itself), noting the dark clouds in the west, we set off east towards home, which was still bathed in sun shine.

We had to decide on a route, we could have gone to Linlithgow and joined the canal and followed it back to Edinburgh, but we have done all that before. So instead, we wound our way north, then eastwards along minor roads aiming towards Kirkliston. On the way, after passing Faucheldean, we saw signs to Niddry Castle, which we had seen in the distance from the train (and the canal tow path). We decided to go visit, only to find it is currently covered in scaffolding, oh well, another time.

Having arrived in Kirkliston, we had planned to follow the road to, but then saw an off-road cycle path and decided to use that instead. We followed it out to South Queen’s Ferry, but missed the turning for Dalmeny an took the long way round the town. Then instead of going up Hawes Brae, we saw signs for NCN 75 and decided to follow that along the coast. This took us through Dalmeny Park and passed Dalmeny House, which is an impressive pile, if you like that sort of thing. Having exited the park we picked up NCN 1 which should have led us all the way home, but the exit from the Roseburn cycle path was closed, and we had missed the diversion signs, so we just made our own way across town to get home.

If you would like to follow our route, there is a map here.

The stats:

  • Distance cycled – 53.3 Km
  • Time spent riding – 02:33:41
  • Max Speed – 54.9 Km/h
  • Ave Speed – 20.8 Km/h
  • Vertical climb – ca. 430 m