A fair ride in fair weather 25-06-2011

Photo of the Village of Culross
Village of Culross, nr Dunfermline

Delayed start

After the last two weeks of absolutely awful weather, I was somewhat nervous that todays cycle would be just as nasty……so when I got up to grey overcast and heavy rain at 7.30am I baulked at the idea of setting off and procrastinated for nearly an hour. It settled down into a steady drizzle then so I got my wet cycling gear out and additionally dropped in two new brake blocks to the rear calipers, as the existing set looked very worn from last time in the rain. It was 9.10am before I got out the door…not a good start!

I was slightly damp around the legs from roads spray (I hadn’t put on waterproof trousers, because they really restrict movement and air flow so I hate them) when I climbed up the hill out of Cramond past the Cramond Brig pub. I had made good time – 35 mins from the other side of Edinburgh – largely due to the excellent cycle paths around the city centre.

Good times

Having left Edinburgh behind, unusually, I was cycling out of the bad weather and into the good!

Setting 18-24mph speeds on the open road and actually feeling warm, I’m loving it. I wisely decided however to keep the long cycling leggings on and not risk exposure of my legs to the outside world. It wasn’t quite ready for that just yet!

Got to Kincardine Bridge in record time and round to Culross shortly thereafter. What a picturesque and historic town it is…..I’ve barely registered it as I’ve cycled through it in the rain before…

Culross – worth a look…

A legend states that when the British princess (and future saint) Theneu or Enoch, daughter of the King of Lothian, fell pregnant before marriage, her family threw her from a cliff. She survived the fall unharmed, and was soon met by an unmanned boat. She knew she had no home to go to, so she got into the boat; it sailed her across the Firth of Forth to land at Culross where she was cared for by Saint Serf; he became foster-father of her son, Saint Kentigern or Mungo (d. 612).

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the town was a centre of the coal mining industry and had the first coal mine in the world to extend under the sea, in 1575.  This mine was considered one of the marvels of the British Isles in the early 17th century, until it was destroyed in a storm, in 1625.

Culross’ secondary industry was salt panning. There was a considerable export trade by sea in the produce of these industries and the prevalence of red roof tiles in Culross and other villages in Fife is thought to be a direct result of collier ships returning to Culross with Dutch roof tiles as ballast.The town’s role as a port declined from the 18th century, and by Victorian times it had become something of a ‘ghost town’. The harbour was filled in and the sea cut off by the coastal railway line in the second half of the 19th century (though the site of the harbour walls can to a large extent still be traced).

Culross Town House.
During the 20th century, it became recognised that Culross contained many unique historical buildings and theNational Trust for Scotland has been working on their preservation and restoration since the 1930s.

Notable buildings in the burgh include Culross Town House, formerly used as a courthouse and prison, the 16th century Culross Palace, 17th century Study, and the remains of the Cistercian house of Culross Abbey, founded 1217. Just outside the town is the 18th-century Dunimarle Castle.

Onwards

I press on still bouyed up by the fact that I’m cycling in sunlight, the sky is relatively clear and I’m warm.  I’m really enjoying the fresh air, hearing the birds sing, and the sense of colour and movement through the landscape. In the Kingdom of Fife, the roads tend to be rubbish for motor vehicles who just want to get from A to B fast, but they’re great for cyclists as they are often windy, picturesque affairs winding through rural countryside. Just as long as you keep an ear out for motor vehicles who will typically be gooing too fast for the roads limitations – some drivers never learn.

Encouraging

Crossing the Forth road Bridge and I realise with a shock that I’ve cleared most of my route in 3 hours, with an average speed of 17.4mph – my best result yet! Yeah!

This actually dropped to 16.7mph average speed by the time I battled my way back through the cycle paths and roads of Edinburgh to my front door. 4hrs and 4 minutes total cycling – still my best yet. Encouraging – very encourging. Maybe the Amsterdam thing might be reasonably achievable after all………

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