Three Days in the Carse

Day One….

I’ve threatened to pack the bike in the wee Chevy and head East to the area around Newtyle. I’ve been beaten, a combination of things but the forecast was looking good and this time, the bike was ‘squeezed’ in as I soon found out I had to.

It was a slightly (?) cramped journey as we headed through Glasgow, Perth then up the A94 and the back roads I’d soon be pedalling on, I’d two routes created and loaded the V650 (more on this later).

We arrived just before lunchtime on what has been a regular run for us the past 40 years, so with a quick bite of lunch, a finger in the air to check the wind and it was south-west towards the village of Kettins. As I left the village, I could ‘smell’ the wild garlic growing prolifically along the edge of the road in places, pleasant.  I passed the impressive KInpurnie ‘castle’ with its tree-lined avenue as I left the village (HERE).  It was here I first felt the effects of a considerable breeze but it was sunny, the roads dusty and I was happy.

Looking over to Fife, River Tay below

Looking over to Fife, River Tay below

I had no set route and mulled over where to go and as I reached the village of Kettins and I decided a back road route so it was a left on to the A934 and cycled uphill for just over a mile before a right turn down the unlisted road which would take me through Kirkton of Collace, Kinrossie and join the B953 which  would lead me to the Perth end of Balbeggie. En-route I had views of Lundie Crags, King’s Seat, a hill I’d previously ascended (and did a SOTA activation) HERE and the nearby hill of Dunsinane, the ancient hill fort with Macbeth/Shakespearean connections HERE. I still have to make a visit, maybe next trip up as I’ve other walking plans in the area. There was plenty of activity in the ploughed fields, tattie boxes on trailers as it was time to bury the seed tatties in the drills. It seemed every farm was out working on this Easter holiday Monday. I passed fields of daffodils just before Collace,

Signal box

Signal box`

Fields of rapeseed covering the landscape everywhere with their yellow flowers, awfy bright. Yellow a predominant colour today.

I soon met the busy A94 at the Perth end of Balbeggie where I cycled along a sometimes overgrown footpath on the opposite side of the road, before long I was passing Perth Airport, no flying activity though.

It was downhill towards Scone, a town with long connections to Scottish history, the historic capital of Alba, short history HERE. I joined the cycle lane which I was grateful for as buses, artic lorries rumbled past. I soon was in Perth,

At the traffic lights in Bridgend, it was a left turn and long plod up a steep brae to join NCN 77 which would take me over Kinnoull Hill, a long drag easing at points and I stopped near the high point to admire some free-range bacon running about in a roadside field, they took great delight in making an awful racket and chasing each other.

I reached the road summit and took a quick look at the Kinnoull car park information boards, I was running late and a table booked for early evening so a trip to the tower would have to wait another day, I always leave an excuse to go back.

I swept down towards Glencarse passing through varying landscapes, oh, and this ‘breeze’ seemed to persist,  views on my right of the river Tay, the estuary and back to Friarton Bridge and over towards the Fife hills.

Polly packed away

Polly packed away

Passing through the village of Glencarse, I followed the classic blue NCN signage and was now on the flatlands of the Carse of Gowrie, I passed through the villages of St Madoes, Errol and I could see the sandbanks of the river which have names like Cartagena Bank, The Turk, Sure as Death Bank, Dog Bank, Eppie Tae’s Bank. Sure As Death Bank sounds ominous.

The road was flat and that wind was still in my face. I cycled along passing fields, more rapeseed showing its yellow flowers, more farmers were out preparing the fields. I pedalled on thinking I could stop in Invergowrie for some sustenance, I reached level crossings which made me remember Paris-Roubaix ’16 and the scramble to get through even after the gates came down. A nervy feeling as you cross them even though you see it clear in both directions, I stopped to have look at the signal box at Longforgan, KIngoodie passed and up the hill into Invergowrie. I reached my destination but no one was at home…typical, reminded me of making a surprise visit to an Aunt on a visit down south, she wasn’t in either as she was back in Scotland. Phone first, Bob!

Decision time, I left Invergowrie pedalling to the junction of the A90 and the Kingsway roundabout, nose to tail traffic and no obvious crossing point, I was intending to head over Liff but I knew an alternative route up via the ‘Birkie Dykes’ (Gourdie Brae), first a slow slog up towards a crossing, I struck off left past a local industrial estate before a sharp left and a constant hill which my legs weren’t appreciating, I did cut off the road to allow traffic to pass by at one point then finally reached the village, passing where I’d dine not much later. The last 6 miles to Newtyle was testing, I tried to call ahead to give an ETA but no answer. I thought I’d sweep out the village and head towards Auchterhouse but in the headwind, I’d to pedal even downhill, I was tiring.

I could hear someone ‘tooting’ me and a wee red Chevy drew to a stop in front of me, it was Katie. I took my bike off the road and as I did a car stopped to ask if I was okay, ‘Tired legs only’ and I thanked the fella for stopping. ‘Throw the bike in the car’, ‘No’ I was determined to finish the last 3 or 4 miles.

I knew the last mile into the village would be a clear run downhill, with the breeze strengthening it wasn’t but I was glad when I finally reached the village. Leg weary, 47 miles cycled, the distance wasn’t the problem but the constant headwind which seemed everywhere I turned.

I met this fella in the eaterie (not much later). The meal was certainly worth it and a couple of pints, much deserved.

Oh, and guess what. I’d forgotten to pack the Polar, HRM and my bike lock key…

Enjoyed it? of course, I did.

Inner Tay info leaflet (PDF File) HERE

Oh, and met this fellow later.

Oor Wullie

Oor Wullie

Day Two…..

An almost rectangular route this time, heading right out of the village toward Glamis along a well-kent road, I’d double checked if I’d meet any big hills but as I reached Balkeerie, the first rise of the day was pedalled up with no problem, I’d printed off a map of the area and had a quick look and down heading towards Craigton after crossing the A94, open fields with a single track road splitting them and the wind again, on my regular roads there are hedgerows, dry stone dykes to ‘hide’ behind but here was mostly just flat open countryside. The tower on Kinpurney Hill was in my vision at every turn, prominent at the top of its hill. It was a good marker later on as it let me know that Newtyle was getting nearer.

River Isla bridge

River Isla bridge

I joined the A923 at Craigton, heading south (I’d guess), passing through Airlie and Ruthven where I saw more daffodil fields in full bloom. I had to stop outside Alyth to check my route, I noticed a maintained area, flower beds, benches with a woven figure in a flower bed, the beds were in between planting.

Near Alyth

Near Alyth

I reached the junction where I’d head back across the country to reach Ardler, sweeping country road until I came across what, I thought was an odd, type of bridge over the River Isla, a metal bridge at Aberbrothie, possibly a replacement for a stone bridge as this area has a history of flooding. The road was quiet until I reached the busy A94 again, crossing at a dedicated bike crossing. Of course, Kinpurney Tower was still in my eye view. I soon passed through Ardler, I’d choose the road towards Keillor, just before I reached the road junction I stopped to look at a roadside ruin, I could see it could have been a doo’cot.

At the junction, it was left and a couple of miles back to my set-off point, 20 odd miles on new roads. I felt good after Monday’s run. One day left in the area.

Day Three to follow.



About gm7something

64, married, three kids......overweight, unfit, folically challenged, need I go on ?
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