Day 14: Perth to New Lanark

I enjoyed a peaceful night in my single room, although I could hear someone snoring in another room at some point during the night, so put my plugs in.


At about 6.30, they could probably hear me coughing, as I started bringing up stuff from my lungs. At 7.30 I gave Denise a ring, and chatted over the options. There was a friend who is a doctor who lives nearly on today’s route, and I had wondered about contacting her and getting a prescription for antibiotics. In the end I decided against it, but have made an appointment to see someone in my practice back home.


I was not unduly surprised to be confronted with a misty day when I drew the curtains, as I had seen the weather forecast, and it had not looked promising. On the plus side, the heavy rain that had been forecast last night had been replaced by a more moderate deluge.


Last night I had looked at the route and written a list of the towns and villages through which I ought to pass, so as to avoid getting the big map out and getting it soaked. I had also found a map of Perth city, discarded by the previous occupant of the room. This I used to navigate moderately successfully through the city, only once falling foul of the one way system.


The weather was mizzly, and I had donned my waterproof(-ish) coat and buff round the ears from the off. I was initially following signs for the Bridge of Earn. I had passed this way before, but the road I was on this time was much busier. Articulated lorries thundered past, the odd one not giving me much room as it passed. I was obviously not on the road I was supposed to be on, but I persevered, and some way towards Glenfarg the road was downgraded to a B-road, and most of the traffic went off left, leaving me in relative peace.


It was between Glenfarg and Milnathort that the mizzle became rain, and I sheltered under the protective canopy of some overhanging trees while putting on my overtrousers. They say that some folk see life through rose-tinted glasses. Well, most of today was spent looking through rain-blurred glasses!


The rain and mizzle alternated as I progressed south, and before too long a sign showed that the Forth bridge was only 9 miles away. As I approached it, the day seemed to be improving, and I thought I might get a good view from the bridge after all, but just as I approached it, the rain came on again, making the journey across a head-down one, as there was little to see.


Once over the bridge, I used the map app on the phone to see where I should be heading. Even stopping often to check it, finding the route was bothersome, and I ended up going through an enormous industrial estate, being buzzed by articulated lorries again.


My plan was to head for East Calder, where I thought I had been taken for coffee last year by some local cyclists I had bumped into. I eventually made my way there through a maze of turns, to find no coffee shop. Bother, or words to that effect. I had eaten a banana and a muesli bar, but I needed to get some more food into me, especially with not feeling 100%. I went through Mid Calder (no coffee shop), and got to Polbeth when I decided enough was enough, and I called in to a Coop and got a sandwich, crisps, and a rather nice iced fruit slice. I had just seen a sign saying that Lanark was only 20 miles away, which meant that I had just passed the 1000 mile mark on the trip. I contemplated getting a second slice of that fruit slice to celebrate, but decided to push on. A couple of miles later I reached West Calder, and came upon the coffee shop, called Thistles. I went in and had a coffee and a chocolate caramel square, or Millionaire’s slice or something that they call it over here, presumably because it is so rich. If you are ever in the vicinity, they do nice coffee, so do call in. I’m on commission 😉


During my time in the coffee shop, the rain had stopped, so I dispensed with my waterproof layer, and enjoyed not feeling clammy for the first time on today’s ride.


After West Calder, I headed south on what had looked like a minor road on my map of Scotland, but which was quite a busy A-road, but with B- or C-quality road surface. Where it joined another road I paused and took off my armwarmers and buff, and put on my sunglasses. Ok, the last was a bit OTT, but I had definitely seen my shadow a few minutes earlier, albeit fleetingly.


After passing through the village of Forth, the road tilted downwards, and I enjoyed a few free miles as I descended through South Lanarkshire. The only downer was the quality of the driving, with a far higher proportion of motorists seemingly keen to add a cyclist to their tally of road kills by passing more closely than I had encountered elsewhere. It made South Lanarkshire’s strap-line of ‘Thriving on safe driving’ particularly ironic. Thrive? Not if you’re a cyclist, you don’t, matey. Survive, if you are lucky, which thankfully I was.


Entering Lanark from a different direction this time (last year I approached it from the south), I managed to get lost, even using my map app, and had to climb back up a lovely long descent after realising that I was not where I thought I was, and certainly not where I was supposed to be. Eventually, however, I found the correct road down to New Lanark, and arrived shortly after 4.10, with 72 miles done and the day still dry. I have to do 92 tomorrow to catch the ferry, which should be doable, unless I feel worse than I did today. I bought some co-codamol when passing through Milnathort to keep me going, if necessary. I cannot, however, afford to get lost as often as I did today!


I have stayed at this hostel before, but had forgotten that the rooms were en suite, and with only one other chap in the room tonight, it bodes well for a quiet one. I have given the bike a clean, and checked the tyre pressures. Off to the hotel in a bit for some dinner.

Day 14 route