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At the end of August and early September we did our annual 1-week cycling holiday; for this year we chose The Borders and Northumberland. We’ve toured the Scottish borders many times over the years, but we do love it, and there are few places in the UK where cycle touring is so rewarding!


We started our week at our friends’ home in Gattonside, near Melrose. The route was 200-miles with 14000ft of ascent, grade average overall was average-C.


All kitted up with 10kg of luggage each. The weather was sunny, but still a little cool – two days later and the heatwave started: fabulous cycling, occasionally too warm, and on one day too windy.


Day-1: Cycle from Gattonside to Pebbles; 27-miles with 2131ft of ascent, grade mild-C(67W)





The pedestrian bridge over the river Tweed at Melrose points directly to the Eildon Hills.




Cycling The Borders: is there anywhere better in the UK!


We spent the night at the Green Tree Hotel, Pebbles – also great place to for fulsome meals!


Day-2: we set-off from Peebles to cycle to Gifford, 37-miles with 2320ft of ascent, grade mild-D(60W). At 1250kCals it was planned to be the hardest day – at this stage little did we know what the weather would produce 3-days later!





The weather just got better and better as we cycled north and east to Gifford.


Looking north towards the Pentland Hills


On the shores of Gladhouse Reservoir: one-third of the way rest stop.


Gorgeously quiet roads: The Borders is a cycling paradise.


Cycling past Crichton Castle


Julie successfully completes the first Julie-graded hill of the holiday: 1-Julie peaking at 177-Watts, a 9-minutes hill.


Her reward: coffee and cake at the Humbie Hub café.  After refreshments we have only 10-miles to go.


Finally, after a long and tiring day, we settle down for a nice meal at the Goblin Ha’, Gifford.


Next day, Day-3, we set off from Gifford on route for Duns: 20-miles with 2320ft of ascent, grade mild-C(81W). Although not the hardest day, this day was planned to be the most strenuous with four Julie graded climbs: over the Lammermuir Hills.





The hardest hill of the four: 3.6-Julie peaking at 253-Watts!


The view from the top of the pass made all the effort worthwhile!


After a rest and drinking in the view, we set off over the high moors.



On the left, Julie (just visible near the middle) sets off on the last graded hill of the day: 0.5-Julie peaking at 122-Watts for 20-minutes. This hill, however, is just the right slope for Julie – try as I might I cannot keep her pace! Soon after the hill we enter the mysteriously named village of Longformacus.



Eventually we see Duns and Julie can enjoy her reward for the most Julie graded hills day we’ve done in a long time. We had a very enjoyable stay at the White Swan!


Day-4: 33-miles with 1432ft of ascent, grade mild-C(52W), from Duns to Cheswick in Northumberland: a relatively easy day at an average of 52-Watts.





An easier day and allowing Julie to explore some artistic camera work.



At exactly the halfway point we had a refreshment stop at The Hirsel Cottage Tea Room, Coldstream.


We cross The Tweed from The Borders into Northumberland and the lovely village of Norham.


This was a hot day, and an ice-cream was most welcome in Norham.



Eventually we start to glimpse the sea, as we head for the Island View Hotel, Cheswick.


The following day, Day-5: 30-miles with 1820ft of ascent, was supposed to be grade mild-C(60W). The wind was appalling: blowing directly at us all day as we headed from Cheswick to Town Yetholm. This day was harder that the ‘supposed’ hard Day-2, I estimated the effort to be within our ‘Extreme’ grade, around 1500kCals!




Although it was very windy, the air was warm and clear. We had great views of the Cheviot Hills for most of the day.


National Cycle Network Route-68 takes you down into the valley of the River Till. A delightful 1.5-miles of cycling along the wooded valley takes you to the equally delightful village of Etal.





Etal has a beautiful thatched roofed pub called The Black Bull and, directly opposite, an excellent tearoom.

We cycle on into the wind, past the site of the Battle of Flodden Field (too windy to consider stopping here). At East Learmouth there are several fishing reservoirs, with this one having a great wind-break stand of trees.


Finally (1500kCals later) we reach our accommodation for the night, The Plough at Town Yetholm. Were we tired?!!



Day-6, our penultimate day of the holiday, we cycled from Town Yetholm to Kelso. If you look at a map you’ll think 5-miles! Our route took us on what is, for me, the best cycling in The Borders; a section of The Border Loop (which we did in 2004). 29-miles with 2030ft of ascent, grade mild-C(64W).


The weather was perfect.


Below is a selection of photos – a great many were taken – of this best of routes on the best of days!

























What a fabulous day! We arrived at Kelso, the town square resembling an Italian piazza at 24degC. Of course we celebrated with a beer, before being joined by Martin and Janette for dinner.


We stayed at the Cross Keys – a lovely hotel, very welcoming of cyclists.














Start of our last day, from Kelso back to our starting point at Gattonside, Melrose: 24-miles with 2084ft of ascent, grade mild-C(69W).


The route included one Julie graded climb, the last of the holiday, a 3.3-Julie hill peaking at 250-Watts for 6-minutes.


The day was also the hottest of the week at 25degC – it was a rather energy sapping day.













We sought out shade and refreshments wherever we could; Harestanes has a nice café


We cycled past the Eildon Hills – not far now.


Back to the pedestrian bridge over the Tweed at Melrose


Finally the end, after one of the best cycling holidays in the Scottish Borders, we were tired and quite drained of energy – we would not wish to have done another day in the saddle!