Roslin to Shawfair

With rain forecast for later in the day, there seemed to be a clear dry weather window in mid-morning, offering just enough time to complete a 13-mile circuit from the house, up to Rosewell, across to Roslin, then a fast 5-mile-long downhill to Shawfair, then back to the house via Eskbank. My steed for the day was my Surly Krampug, not because it’s the best bike for this route, my Surly Ogre, with its slimmer tyres would certainly be faster, but because it’s possibly my favourite bike.

The route begins straight from the house, heads across the housing estate and on to NCN 196, known locally as the Musselburgh to Penicuik cycleway and once the Hardengreen & Peebles branch line of the North British Railway. The initial stages of the route are good smooth tarmac but running through the centre of Bonnyrigg also popular with other users and uncontrolled dogs can be an annoying problem. My first stop was to check out the remains of a small structure beside the railway, probably a railways workers hut. I was hoping to find a few bricks but no such luck.

After Rosewell the tarmac vanishes and is replaced by compacted gravel with quite a few large muddy puddles from previous days of rain as well as some erosion from running water. The route is also popular with horse riders so quite a few piles of fresh horse droppings to avoid. The Krampug with its 29 x 3″ tyres made this part of the route easy going and I was glad to have some protection from the mud that was being thrown up. One cyclist I passed had no such protection and was plastered with wet mud from head to toe.

After passing the site of Rosslyn Castle Station, I left the cycleway and dropped down some steps to the remains of Roslin Gunpowder Mills, crossing the River North Esk and following a track downstream towards Roslin Glen Country Park. Usually I’d head down to the parking area, cross the River North Esk again at a footbridge, then up some steps at Roslin Castle, but today I decided to cycle up the B7003, a steep and twisty section of road which had me puffing a bit by the time I’d reach the top and the village of Roslin.

This next section is a breeze to cycle. The route follows the old Edinburgh, Roslin and Loanhead branch line of the North British Railway, all gently downhill as far as Shawfair, a distance of some 5 miles. It’s also a favourite of mine on the Swifty kick scooter and great for night rides or kick scoots, as well. Numerous sign posts indicate other routes for future exploration and crossing the Bilson Glen viaduct is always spectacular.

The route passes under the A720 City of Edinburgh bypass, a popular location for graffiti artists and I always stop to see what the latest works are. Some of the artworks here are quite impressive and I was quite amazing at the one showing Uncle Fester of Addams Family fame.

Being a fast downhill section of the route, Shawfair was reached all too soon and I had to start pedalling again, my legs complaining at the sudden need to do some work. And of course, it started to rain, gentle at first but rapidly getting heavier. So on with the waterproofs and a fast blast down to Eskbank and back to the house.

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