As I said in a recent post, we have been looking for new routes to the south, to try and find quick and easy routes into the Borders. Mapping the route after returning from a previous ride, I had noticed an unclassified road running between Gilmerton and Lasswade, namely Lasswade Road. There was little information about this on the Spokes cycle map, it looked quiet from Google Street View, but the only way to really find out was to go and have a look. Either way, it was a good excuse to gad about the countryside.

Setting out, the direct route would have been to head up Kirk Brae, which Spokes give as a quiet road, but it is also shown as a steep climb. It was decided that taking a slightly more round about route out through Gilmerton, which was easy enough. When we got to Lasswade Road, we found it wasn’t too busy, but might be a bit of a rat run. It could make a pleasant route, passing through open farm land, but how long before it is covered with infill development? Having passed under the city bypass (A720), the road starts to trend downhill towards the river North Esk. The footpath at the side of the roads is currently over grown, if it were cleared back it would provide plenty of space for a combined walking and cycle path. However, this is Midlothian,which is one of the most backward places in Scotland, where transport issues are concerned.

Having crossed the river, we made our way through Lasswade and Bonnyrigg to join the NCN 1, which took us out of town and into the Midlothian countryside. We were climbing slowly but steadily towards Carrington, the riding was easy, nothing challenging. Beyond Carrington, the slow climb continued towards Temple. We crossed over the South Esk, fortunately the bridge was high over the river so there was no descent and climb. Shortly after, we parted company with the NCN 1, which joins the B6372 and turns east, whereas we turned uphill and went on through Temple, a small linear village on the side of a hill. As we passed the last house in the village, I noticed a couple of people in the driveway standing by a motorbike, kitting up to go out. There was a real contrast between them and us, it was a warm sunny day, we were in shorts and tee-shirts, they were donning heavy leathers.

We continued to climb steadily, the Moorfoot Hills ahead of us, but the road we were on would not cross them. At the T junction we turned right and rode through a green tunnel of hedge row trees, mouths closed to keep out the flies. Fortunately this road was no longer climbing, but following the contours, so no need to open our mouths to breath. On reaching another T junction we turned south on to a road which the map shows as being a continued climb, but actually undulates. This road is great fun if you crank hard on the downhill then freewheel on the up, starting to crank again as you reach the crest. It feels a bit like riding a roller-coaster.

On the final section, approaching Gladhouse Reservoir, the road surface deteriorated from surprisingly good to awful. We rode along the north shore of the reservoir looking for somewhere to stop and eat lunch. There was a car park marked on the OS map next to the reservoir which looked like a good place to stop. I expected to find somewhere with a picnic bench, however when we found the place, it is now closed to cars and there is no bench or table. We sat on a rail originally meant to keep the cars out of the reservoir, the air was thick with mayflies and fish were rising. Lunch over, we carried on along the north shore, across the dam and through the few houses that are Gladhouse, noting that the visitor centre is now permanently closed. Beyond the reservoir we turned north and headed towards home.

We picked up the B6372 which took us west of Temple. Just after passing Braidwood, we looked down to Temple Old Kirk, which is worth a visit on another day. A wee bit past this, we closed the loop, re-joined the NCN 1 and followed it back to Carrington. Rather than return the way we had come, we turned left out of Carrington and headed towards Rosewell. On reaching a crossroads, we were discussing which way to go when a runner came along and advised us that it was possible to use the road straight ahead. This was black top for about 1 Km, then turedn into a farm track, no problem for us, but those on road (race) bikes wouldn’t like it. Another kilometre further on, we were back on tarmac, and decided to take a slight detour passed Whitehill House, an impressive grade A listed pile with a golf course attached. We got a few odd looks, but no one told us that it was private and that we shouldn’t be there. This is after all Scotland, and the 2003 Land Reform (Scotland) Act gives us the right of access, unlike in some neighbouring countries, where rights of access are severely limited.

Back on the main road again, we found ourselves just to the north of Rosewell, looking for a way to get back across the North Esk. We decided that an interesting way to get home would be to go via Polton and Loanhead. Leaving Polton, there are very scenic views across the glen, which leave you in no doubt about what is to come. A swift decent to the bridge, followed by a lung-bustlingly entertaining climb up the other side, which pops you out in the middle of Loanhead. From there it was a familiar route (albeit usually done by bus) back through Straiton into town.

There is a map of our route here.

My stats were:

  • Distance cycled – 52.2 Km
  • Time spent riding – 2:31:58
  • Max Speed – 57.8 Km/h
  • Ave Speed – 20.6 Km/h
  • Vertical climb – ca. 470m

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