Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Onwards and Northwards

Onwards and Northwards

13th July 2015

This morning we left our little certified location in drizzly rain - the weather forecast was wrong again!!  We continued northwards towards Carnoustie where we intended to stop off, unload our bikes and follow a cycle path into Broughty Ferry.   On the way we kept our fingers crossed that the rain would clear but when we arrived around 11am it was still falling so we did the British thing, and had a cup of tea, and after that, mostly we got our wish, with only a few spits and spots falling on us when we eventually set off.

The path we had decided to follow was Sustran's Route 1, and was all off road so it should have been nice and relaxed, however, on one side was a golf course with warning signs to 'take care' and on the other was a military shooting range with the warning sign in the photo below - and as we could hear the rattle of gun fire in the distance it was slightly unnerving.
We  took our lives in our pedals!
However, we sailed though safe and sound and continued on our way along the mostly coastal path.  As we proceeded we were quite amazed to see a large flock of swans swimming on the sea amongst the groynes, and feeding quite contentedly.

We  continued on to Broughty Ferry where we explored the town in search of our favourite fish and chips, but fortunately we didn't find them.  I say fortunately, because instead we ended up visiting  the 'Goodfellow and Steven Bakery'.  Apparently it's been established since 1897 and it sold all manner of breads and scrumptious cakes for us to choose from.  We choose baguettes, which they filled while we waited, then to finish John had shortbread and I had rocky road.  We took our goodies to a flower filled garden on the edge of the town and sat and enjoyed our late lunch overlooking the bay.

We retraced our tyre tracks back the same way which completed a ride of about 18 miles and then set of for Montrose where we planned to spend the next couple of nights.  Montrose is famous for it's 'Basin', but we didn't really get around to exploring that area as we had more cycling planned for the next day.  We pitched up for the next 2 nights on the South Links Campsite - which turned out to be quite busy, but we had a very pleasant stay.  On our first evening we went for a walk along the beach northwards past The Golf Links of Montrose,  but after a couple of miles we tired so turned back.   It was then that we had the lovely view of Scurdie Ness Lighthouse.

14th May 2015

Our dilemma today was weather to head north or south.  Following close scrutiny  of the map (by John), he decided south would be best because that way would be over mostly quite back roads. So with this in mind we headed to Arbroath.   We knew this ride would be longer and probably harder than the ones we had previously tackled, and as this was our third consecutive day of cycling, we packed lots of goodies to feast on during our journey.  Our first stop off was Lunan Bay - another long and lovely beach backed by sand dunes and with a little cafe and a camp site, which again, would have suited us better - however, hindsight is a wonderful thing.  We explored a little on foot and then continued on our way passing though 'Bog Head' and 'West Bog Head', and as we neared Arbroath we passed a small wooded copse where we heard red kites screeching.  I was lucky enough to spot one sitting in one of the trees and John viewed it as it took flight.

One of our neighbours at the camp site had told us that Arbroath offered excellent opportunities for overnight parking at both it's north and south approaches, but following checking it out we decided the North would be much better, however this was immaterial for this journey.  We rode through the town, picked up some chips and sat on the sea front to eat our well deserved lunch, along with quite a few seagulls who wanted to share (they were disappointed).  At this stage the sun was shining but the wind was cold so we didn't linger to long, but before leaving Arbroath we wanted to visit one of the town's unique fish shops and take photographs.

I was quite interested in the history of the Arbroath Smokie, and there were several history boards to add to my knowledge.

Apparently they originate in Auchmithie - a small sleepy village which we cycled through on the way back.   In times gone by the fishwives smoked the fish over halved barrels with fires underneath and layers of hessian sacking over the top.   They must have had a very hard life because another task that fell to them was to piggyback their men folk through the shallow waters to their fishing vessels so that they could start their voyage with dry feet!

I was also curious as to what a smokie was - it's haddock, and interestingly the product is protected by a 'Geographical Indication' which means that the name 'Arbroath Smokie' can only be used to describe haddock that is smoked using traditional methods and that has been smoked within an eight kilometre radius of Arbroath.

While we were in Arbroath we passed several small 'fishmongers' - they were just shop fronts in terraced rows of houses with signs outside.  We debated if we should buy smokies because we had to carry them home in our panniers (and we were worried they may never smell the same again), but we decided we couldn't miss the opportunity!  While we were in the shop people were buying them as a 'take away' - straight off the smoking barrel.  They looked delicious but as we had just eaten we satisfied ourselves with buying the vac packed variety - a delicacy that we have yet to sample.

It was now time to head homeward - we know it was a long way!  We retraced our path as far as Boddin Point where we planned to have another cake break to replenish our energy for the final push.  The sign on the road indicated that Boddin was about a mile down a dead end track - what it didn't tell us was that it was all 'down' hill, which was lovely until we were coming back!  When we got to the point it was a bit of a disappointment as it the end was gated as it forms part of a salmon fishery establishment, and this limited places to rest our weary bones, but while we were there we spotted these buildings within a gated compound and thought they may be old smoke houses, but if anyone knows better we would love to be informed!

As we had made the effort to ride down we made the most  of it and finished our picnic before setting off up the hill again.  We eventually arrived back at the Tardis having completed just over 42 miles so we rewarded ourselves with a very nice fillet steak dinner along with a bottle of Shiraz, and following that we both slept extremely well!

15th July 2015

We left Montrose in the rain and headed for our first destination of the day which was to be Aberdeen Esplanade. Snooper (our sat nav) took us through the City, which in the rain, seemed dull and uninviting, and we were further disenchanted as we headed towards our destination, by signs that prohibited  vehicles over 2.1 metres.   We're 2.3, but we did a bit of a detour and eventually arrived on the Esplanade (thus breaking the law) but were not particularly impressed.  We decided not to stop, but to head further on to Balmedie Country Park.  Again, when we arrived we were put off by width restrictions, but we parked for a short while and had a little walk.   However, as the rain was still pouring, and as the park mainly consisted of beach and sand dunes we decided to continue on our way without stopping to eat.

And because of all of the above we thought we were having a bad day until we reached our next port of call - Port Erroll.   Here, it is permissible to Wild Camp (for a donation ) on the Harbour side, and just to cheet us even more, following our arrival the sun  came out - so needless to say we decided to stay and spend a night in this beautiful place.

We found this on the beach. It was at least 2 feet across!
The photos really don't do it  justice - it is absolutely stunning and since we've been here we've walked around the village and along the beach.  There are hundreds of sea birds - lots are seagulls but also shags, oyster catchers and sandpipers.  We've still not seen any dolphins but we are ever hopeful and if there are any about we will easily see them from the van windows.

We had just finished our tea (salmon, new potatoes and mushy peas) when an elderly gentleman who had been wondering around the harbour came to our door and engaged John in 'conversation'.  That was he talked and John  'listened'!!  He had such a broad Scottish accent, and he talked so fast that even I could only catch about every 4th word.  As he finished one tale he launched immediately into another, and I'm sure by the time he was done John would have known his life history if he'd been able to hear it all!  John said 'yes' and occasionally 'no' in what seemed to be appropriate places, but the chap never paused for breath and I don't think he would have noticed if the responses were inappropriate anyway.  I didn't go to the door, but sat on the sofa absolutely howling with laughter, John later told me I was making the van rock and as he knew that I was laughing he was struggling to keep a straight face while he listened to our guest.  Our plan was to go and sit outside to watch the sun set, but I started to think that if he goes on much longer it will more likely be to watch the sun rise!! Anyway,  as a reward for listening he gave John 2 sweeties and then he wondered off into the evening - I think  he was probably just lonely.

We did eventually venture outside to see the sun set, and mostly we had the harbour to ourselves.  The tide was coming in and lapping over the rocks just below us, the sky was almost clear providing a very tranquil place for us to rest - it was a lovely way to end our day.

The only dolphin we've managed to see so far

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