(The map for this route can be found here)
Well, after a dull morning, the sun came out and so did I. Early on it had shown all the promise of a classic Autumn day – bright sun, a nip in the air, trailers of mist on the hills – but then it all went grey and I thought I wouldn’t bother. Then in the afternoon the clouds dispersed and I though it was too good a day to waste indoors. I found with shame that both my serviceable mounts – the Dream Roadster and the 1934 Royal Sunbeam – needed air in their tyres. Was it so long since I had been out?
After a brief consideration I chose the Sunbeam: it suited the day better, somehow. Before setting out a buzzing made me look up and there was a microlight enjoying what must have been a beautiful view. You need good eyes to see the microlight, but I like the accidental saltire made by the wires – and what a fine sky!
What route to choose? I decided to take the old road to the West out of Perth which starts with a long climb called Necessity Brae. This makes a fine pairing with the splendidly-named Needless Road, which runs off the Glasgow Road into Craigie. To get there, I decided to take the route round Craigie Hill – it being the especial pleasure of the cyclist to go by secret ways and strange, where motor cars cannot.
This path swoops around the base of Craigie Hill under a leafy canopy for much of the way:
Necessity Brae is a strenuous climb in low gear but a merciful bend hides the upper section and keeps you going. This is the view looking back to Perth
at the top, you are rewarded with brambles, or blackberries, if you prefer.
They never tasted better: solar-powered Blackberries.
And here we see that great rarity, a Sunbeam recumbent:
It’s a good viewing point – you can look North East, across to Strathmore, with Kinnoull Hill on the right,
or North to the Grampians
The Brae takes you up out of Strathtay, the valley of the Tay, and over a shoulder of land to Strathearn, the broad and splendid valley of the Earn.
There is a fine descent into Strathearn, but age brings caution: I enjoy going down hills, but no longer at full-tilt as I did in my youth. I find the conviction that I am immortal has weakened with the years.
Once down, I swung back Eastward towards Craigend and so to Perth.
There are a couple of handsome railway bridges over the Earn, where the lines out of Perth branch South to Edinburgh and West to Glasgow. This is the Westward route:
and this is the Southern route, marching away across fields of gold, while the Western route runs across the middle ground:
A fine bush of red berries made me think of Seamus Heaney and The Haw Lantern, though these I think were hips.
Further on I found what I think were haws, but I am open to correction. My father told us often on country walks, but alas! I did not heed him well enough.
Approaching Craigend I was surprised by a stiff ascent and exercised the first rule of cycling, ‘it’s all right to walk’.
Remounting, I joined the main road from Edinburgh to Perth, a short climb over the same shoulder I had crossed earlier in the opposite direction. I passed a fellow-cyclist enjoying his share of brambles and really should have been sociable and stopped but I was eager to be home (why? there was no rush) so made do with an exchange of greetings. I caught a glimpse of the classic view of Perth coming from the South East but I fear the picture does not do it justice:
And so home again, feeling as always much the better for having been out on my bicycle. What better way to spend a fine September afternoon?