Moffat to Selkirk

The highlight of the day was undoubtedly the surprise meeting with GlasgowDave & Perkygirl* at the cafe overlooking the Loch o’ the Lowes. I’m not sure what Lowes are, but there are some more at a Loch of the Lowes near Dundee, where we saw ospreys in the summer of ’93. In the 2012 version, Jan and I had just partaken of burger and chips and we were onto the tea loaf and a second pot of tea when Dave asked me if I was Wowbagger and I was so taken aback that I didn’t even claim to be Charlotte. We spent a happy time having a natter about various stuff and then we went our mostly separate ways, although their car overtook us a little later. The meeting was recorded for posterity but the evidence, which is on my camera, will have to wait until we arrive back in Southend.The day began with an interesting conversation with a young chap at the B & B who was exploring Scotland for the Classic Car Club. He was based in London and was really enthusiastic about his work, not surprisingly. Over an atlas, I suggested a trip to Tomintoul & Braemar via the Spital of Glenshee and he seemed very keen on this idea.We set off from the B & B at around 10 a.m. and the first port of call was the Moffat Toffee Shop. I bought a few bits and pieces and I have, hopefully, fulfilled a request made of me some seven months or so ago by a lady of this forum. However, I have been unable to supply the molluscs she requested and I hope that she will be well satisfied by the balls that I can offer by way of a substitute.

As always seems to be the case when we are touring, as soon as we leave the town where we have spent the night we start climbing. The first haul was enough to force us to walk for a short spell but once we got into our stride we plodded on with few rests. We found an open cafe, but it was still too soon after a full cooked breakfast. There was heavy cloud cover and a light rain was falling steadily. Every so often it stopped for long enough for me to remove my waterproof but then a few minutes would elapse and I would have to put it on again. The scenery was still quite spectacular. Some of the hills were in the clouds, but every so often there was enough of a break for us to be able to see the snow that was still lying at the higher levels.

Despite this road being given the grand title of the A708, the most encouraging part is that underneath the direction sign from Moffat is a sign saying “unsuitable for HGVs”. We were overtaken by a few cars, but mostly they were in ones and twos, with prolonged gaps between them. It was a perfect road to cycle and I would love to do it again on a bright sunny day.

After about 12 miles we reached the summit, about 1100 feet up, and then enjoyed the descent to the cafe where, as has been described above, an extremely pleasant surprise awaited us.

The 20 or so miles from the cafe to Selkirk is mostly downhill, and Dave & Perky (how embarrassing: I didn’t think to ask what Perkygirl’s real name is) had mentioned what fun it was to ride on the tandem. The final mile or so is very much up hill and we were pushing the bikes again for some of this. I had to buy some batteries as some of the older rechargeables I had brought with me were not up to the job of providing the garmin with enough power for tasks like increasing and decreasing the scale. As luck would have it, the Co-op were doing a two for one offer and I bought 8 AA duracells¬† for ¬£4.99.

With our new-found powers we soon reached the B & B which is outside the town and therefore already up the hill we would have had to climb tomorrow morning. We asked the landlady about eateries and she suggested the County Hotel. We went there and the food was OK (I had garlic mushrooms and we each had lasagne) but it’s so disappointing when pubs don’t serve ale. Tonight I was too hungry, and the hour was getting too late, for us to find somewhere else, but I just don’t think it would ever occur to a landlord to try and fob a customer off with corned beef when they had ordered steak.


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