August 30, 2011, by Andrew Burden
The VC’s blog: JoGLE Day 4: Blair Atholl to Dunfermline
The weather changed and we left Blair Atholl in cool but bright conditions. Our route took us on Sustrans 7 and 77, through Pitlochry to Dunkeld, staying west of Perth, through Dunning and on to Dunfermline. In all we worked our way through four Scottish counties, including the smallest in Britain, Clackmannanshire.
Chris R, Alan and David W got off early. I rode with Andy, Karen, Kate, Chris J, Nick and Neville for the entire leg, Steve joined us for part of it.
The terrain was much hillier than I anticipated. It was much more beautiful than I expected, only because I know little about this part of Scotland and it is stunning.
The delightful town of Dunkeld was our first pit-stop. (My only previous knowledge of it was via my good friend Naren Patel who, for his services to medicine was elevated to Lord Patel of Dunkeld). We ate at the Spill the Bean Café. This gets a top recommendation for soup and service (though Neville marked them down for having run out of Guinness Fruit Cake).
There are few towns between Dunkeld and Dunfermline (at least on the route we were on). So we had a bit of a problem getting lunch. We stopped in Dunning, a lovely town with wonderful views of the hills in Kinross and the warmest of hospitality. Although the local bakery had stopped doing food by the time we arrived, they rustled up a box of sandwiches and the Dunning Golf Club opened up their facilities for our use (unlike JO’G and Tain, you do not need 20p). The support team set up an impromptu picnic in the town car park, which refuelled us for the final stage.
There is a punishing climb out of Dunning through the Ochil Hills. Over three miles it takes you up to 1,150 feet, a case of head down and keep pedalling. The beauty of the descent on the other side through Glendevon to Yetts of Muckart is hard to describe. Kate’s summary was that all that was missing was Bilbo Baggins.
At the bottom I came as close as I have ever been to a head on collision, when a lunatic in a VW Polo ignored our shouts to slow down. An gravel verge saved him from running into a logging truck as he came round the bend.
The last stretch in to Dunfermline seemed to take a while but I am sure that was just fatigue. I have not been to this city since I watched Rangers play Dunfermline around 1964. The stadium looks a lot better than it did then.
So leg 4 is complete and without any real mishaps or setbacks. Nick did not have any punctures, Chris did not shunt anyone of the road (and we have told him that if he keeps a clean sheet tomorrow the L plates come off). The only panic was when Kate lost her iPhone. Gavin went to our last rendevous field to rustle among sheep droppings. It turned out that it was craftily hiding in her iPhone holder on her handlebars.
We have another 74 miles on the clock after today. I think a few bodies are starting to complain and the team are beginning to look for ways of stopping complaints, which is hardly surprising after four days on the road and almost 300 miles covered. After all, until today almost none of us had cycled for four days in succession.
So tomorrow we head to the Borders and back in to England. I hope the weather stays fair
David Greenaway, August 29th 2011