The slow road back home

Sunday always brings out interesting vehicles and as today was sunny, all the convertibles. On the Edinburgh bypass we were overtaken by a Corvette, an Official Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500 in 1968. The countryside next to the bypass has enough pylons striding across it to satisfy a member of the Pylon Appreciation Society. Yes, it does exist; see Our slow drive home started by heading to the Glenkinchie Distillery so that I could photograph it for the book I am slowly compiling for James, of all the distilleries in the British Isles. We clocked up quite a few last year in the Highlands, Orkney and Northern Ireland and need to continue filling the gaps.
Glenkinchie 5 June 2016-1
Afterwards we drove down the A68 passing the wind farm just north of Lauder. Scotland is way ahead in renewable energy than other parts of the UK but we could still all do more. The only traffic jam of the trip was in Lauder, as there was a vintage and classic car event at Thirlestane Castle. Parked in the village was a pale green E-Type Jaguar, I liked the colour but James disagreed. Further on we crossed the Tweed we had walked along the day before and passed the Leaderfoot viaduct I had photographed last year.
Leaderfoot viaduct (1 of 1)
On Carter Bar at the border, I got a discount on my coffee for bringing my own mug and admired the views in peace until a German tour bus arrived.
Carter Bar 1 5 June 2016-1
Carter Bar 3 5 June 2016-1
We carried on over the uplands and back down into fields yellow with oil seed rape flowers. In Stanhope we saw another classic car – a lovely red Lotus. There were also lots of bikers out on the B roads but these inhabitants should really have been in the Andes, not the Pennine Hills.
? alpacas 5 June 2016-1
On the A66, signs warned us about horse-drawn vehicles as Appleby Horse Fair was held this weekend and is a big event for the travelling community. South of Brough and on the surrounding roads they were camping for the evening with tethered horses grazing on the grass verge. We drove alongside the Settle-Carlisle railway which I must incorporate into one of my train journeys to Edinburgh at some point. All the way from Cumbria into North Yorkshire the flax was blooming in the upland bogs and buttercups in the lowland meadows. I stopped for a photograph of the Ribblehead Viaduct before we got back onto bigger roads and found ourselves following a shed on a trailer.
Ribblehead Viaduct 5 June 2016-1
The last leg of the journey was on dual carriageways and the motorways around Manchester. From the traffic reports we were hearing on the radio, avoiding the M6 seemed to have been a good decision. As ever, I made a mental note to revisit some of the places we passed in the evening with my camera.

Heading south: single track roads to four lane motorways

Driving off the boat on Saturday morning We left Orkney’s single track roads with passing places and drove past Thurso in light rain but hardly and traffic. The A9 was straight with ample space and time to overtake very slow traffic. Nearer the coast at Berriedale, there were bends and a road described as ‘the most difficult, exposed and twistiest sections of the whole length of the road. The end of this stretch is marked definitively by the steep descent (including a gravel trap in case your lorry’s brakes fail) to a sharp corner which marks the start of an even steeper climb to the north: a climb that comes complete with hairpin bends’. The lack of trees in Orkney was more than made up here and I noted Berriedale as somewhere to return to. When we reached Brora, it was time to start the distillery photography at Clynelish where men were working on the chimney:

Clynelish June 2015 (1 of 1)

South of Dornoch I saw a sign to Meikle Ferry (no ferry) which raised a smile. I loved the orange barrels at Glenmorangie.

Glenmorangie 1 June 2015 (1 of 1)

We visited Dalmore near Invergordon & afterwards had a brief rest by the firth.

Going home 1 June 2015 (1 of 1)

On the Black Isle we visited Glenmore and pulling uphill out of Inverness, Tomatin. Over the Slochd and Drumochter and we were back in Perthshire with even more trees. On the M90 south of Perth, there were lupins by the side of the M90, presumably a garden escape. Soon we were in Edinburgh for an overnight stop and a meal with friends we had not see for a long time. The following morning we left Edinburgh by the A7. Since I worked in Midlothian, house-building in the former mining villages has exploded and one friend commented that he used to live in the country but now lives in a suburb. Festival time is in full swing and in Melrose the Borders Book Festival, a food festival and children’s’ football tournament were underway. We continued on via the A68 and over Carter Bar.

View from Carter Bar June 2015 (1 of 1)

In the Kielder Forest I spotted two roe deer hinds feeding but no red squirrels despite the warning sign. We dropped down into the Tyne Valley via Bellingham which had a Scarecrow festival underway and crossed the river near Haydon Bridge. Very soon were heading uphill again and on Hartside Summit where the cafe at 1,903ft is the highest in England. There were plenty of bikers and amazingly on our descent, we passed people cycling (or trying to cycle) up to the summit. We joined the M6 at Penrith and had a fairly easy run down as far as Junction 19 where everything slowed down. A Polish registered car was braver than us and drove down the hard shoulder to the exit. Once we reached it, a bit of local knowledge enabled us to get home fairly quickly.

Through the wood to the beach, through the Borders to home

Sunday always makes driving a little more interesting. There was a woman in African dress at the filling station and we passed a vintage car on the bypass. The sunny morning meant we had to head for the beach and Tyninghame is a favourite. Walking through the wood to Ravensheugh Sands, I always find something to photograph whether it be emerging bracken shoots or trees.

New bracken Tyninghame 26 Apr 2015 (1 of 1)

Beach 8 Tyninghame 26 Apr 2015 (1 of 1)

We walked and beachcombed and the dog greeted all the other dogs out for a walk.

Beach 3 Tyninghame 26 Apr 2015 (1 of 1)

Beach 5 Tyninghame 26 Apr 2015 (1 of 1)

All too soon we had to leave and drove back along part of the Hillfoots Trail through the communities lying at the foot of the Lammermuir Hills. Just after Humbie and before we joined the A68, eight or nine Mazda MX5s passed, on a day out or heading towards and event perhaps. During our lunch stop just off the A68, it started to snow. Further on, near the Kielder Forest and Newcastleton, it was hailing. The rest of the drive was uneventful as most of the roadworks that have afflicted the northern M6 had been suspended but there are still plenty of potholes.

The uplands

Although I awoke to blue sky (and grabbed a photo of the turret of Esdaile and our cherry tree branches against the blue), the clouds soon arrived and the forecast was rain/sleet and snow over 200m. James decreed that this ruled out a beach walk as he did not spend five years in Aberdeen and walk on the beach in all weathers as I did. The second option was varying the route back down south which I am always in favour of. The A68 was the choice and after passing through Pathhead where James did his trainee year, we were soon south of Earlston and spotted the Leaderfoot Viaduct which I did not remember from childhood visits to these parts (we used to go to the campsite at Lilliardsedge). Just north of the campsite is the Monteath Mausoleum which again, I don’t remember.
Leaderfoot viaduct (1 of 1)

Outside the towns there was very little traffic but some great views on the B road from near Otterburn and through Bellingham.

View north of Carter Bar (1 of 1)

We kept seeing Pennine Way signs which is a reminder to walk from Smallwood to Edinburgh, taking the Pennine Way for the majority of the journey. Today we had to pass by. The ubiquitous hill sheep are a potent reminder that these hills would have all been covered in forests before the sheep came.
Nearer to Alston (the highest market town in England) we could see the north Pennines had a dusting of snow and it was by the road as we drove over the Hartside Pass (1903 feet)
Near Hartside Pass 7 Dec 2014 (1 of 1)
and then descended into Penrith, the rain and the motorway home.
Descending into Penrith (1 of 1)