Danny's vintage bike above was also featured in a past winter issue of dandyhorse.
dandy Scotland part 3: Around Town
From the County of Perth to the Kingdom of Fife
Story by Tammy Thorne
Photos by Tammy Thorne, Fiona McGarva and Danny Gilbert.
I had to get some biking in after taking in all the bike race action at the Crieff Highland Gathering. So my Scottish hosts took me on a local famous walk —and for us, bike ride— in bonny Crieff called Lady Mary’s Walk.
Along the banks of the River Earn is a beautiful hard-packed dirt and gravel path that takes you through wooded lots with hundred-year-old trees and wild flowers to farmers' fields with cows and sheep. The Earn is an important salmon river. We saw a man fishing as we rolled through.
In Scotland, people literally enjoy the freedom to roam — you are legally allowed to walk wherever you want. Scots have right of access to their countryside; land and water. Nothing will stop Scots from taking a wee walk!
Riding on Lady Mary's Walk with my lovely hosts Fi and Danny.
There's some geocaching going on down Lady Mary's Walk with the famous "Mole's House." It's fun fairytale-esque stuff.
Mole's House, where people leave gifts for the mysterious mole and search for hidden geocaches nearby.
After the gorgeous scenic ride we popped out at a road that led us up to the Famous Grouse and Glenturret distillery. Distilleries dot the Scottish landscape like castles and golf courses. They are functional and fun to visit and tourists like me add to the large crowds found at any time of year. Glenturret is apparently Scotland’s oldest, most visited whisky distillery and is the only Scottish distillery where traditional methods of whisky production are still in use.
There is a giant brass grouse sculpture in the yard you can’t miss upon arrival, but more interesting to me was the bronze statue of a long-haired cat.
Towser, I learned, was a famous feline in these parts. This capital cat caught almost 30,000 rodents in his time as guardian of the Scotch stills. That’s a lot of mice! I rose a glass of light lager to Towser as I considered the origins of Coronation chicken salad sandwiches in the cafe. It was just trying to rain as we got on our bikes to head home.
Another highlight in Crieff was our wee walk up the Knock - which is yet another famous walk in Crieff on the grounds of a luxury castle hotel and spa (or "hydro" as the Scots say.) The activities on offer - which, of course, include golfing - also included many zip lines through the forest and wild climbing contraptions like these.
My hosts Fiona, Alisdair, Dan and Struan, above, on a wee walk, taken about half way up "The Knock."
We had homemade chips and locally brewed lager at a cafe near the top and a relaxing evening by the fire back at their place later. Their house is called "Gallows Hill House" and the town's police chief lived there in the olden days. It was likely the last stop for criminals before they were walked up the hill to the gallows. History is everywhere here! As is beautiful scenery.
Fiona runs an upcyling shop called Remake that helps people reuse materials of all sorts to make new things. Building skills and connections in the community is one of Remake's top priorities — as is upcycling. The day we stopped by they were making what we would call Muskoka beach chairs out of wood pallets (delivery skids).
This "Zero Waste Scotland" placard greets you upon entry.
Recycling and caring for the environment is rampant across Scotland. Here at the local "tippy" (dump) and recycling station there is a distinct spot for bike recycling, and there were some nice ones there! They go to a local charity called The Bike Station. I was told to keep my hands off, so I just took these photos instead.
All over Scotland I found cycling and recycling, bike infrastructure like covered bike parking (seen below at Gleneagles train station), fair trade towns, and signed intercity cycling routes. I guess that's why the Scottish can eat so much fish and chips and still stay in good shape — they work it off with all that walking and cycling!
Another fair trade and fairly bikey town we visited was St. Andrews. A university town, it makes sense that there would be bike lanes into and around town.
Well known for it's pristine miles-long sandy beach, famous golf course, and as the place where Kate met Prince William, it is a fabulous day trip no matter how you get there.
There is a well-connected and signed bike route that will take you all the way to St. Andrew’s along the side of the road and fields. We saw cyclists using it as we drove by.
We drove and were there in a jiffy (most things in Scotland are only two hours away by car) and I admired the great Tay River Rail bridge. The Scots are serious about their bridges.They have to be because of their many beautiful rivers.
The Scots are also serious about their "chippies." We enjoyed fish and chips at one of the best chippies in Scotland. Tailend sources everything locally, ethically, and sustainably and is fair trade –indeed, the entire town of St. Andrews is fair trade (as are many Scottish cities and towns) and this is proudly displayed on signs into and around town.
Mushy peas are a classic side dish for any Scottish meal, especially a chippy. These peas were so good I could’ve eaten an bowl or two. The entire meal was fantastic. I enjoyed a Punk Dog lager, which I later found out was a local Glaswegian brewer with some controversy attached to it’s edgy marketing efforts.
A good chippy is what Scotland is all about. Yum (above).
The real draw for St. Andrews is the sandy beach.
This is where Chariots of Fire was filmed and it is obviously extremely popular for runners. We also saw some horseback riders.
St. Andrews has some great castle and cathedral ruins of it's namesake; Scotland’s patron saint.
The ruins of St. Andrews' cathedral.
And the number one tourist attraction beside the biking, castle and cathedral ruins, miles-long sandy beach and world-renowned golf course? It's Northpoint Café, a.k.a. where Kate met Wills. The wee café displays a modest sign (you can see in the right-hand window) that says “where Kate met Wills.”
Another day, another wee wobble on the cobbles.
Enjoy more photos below.
The castle remants.
Dramatic signage. Indeed, sea birds in Scotland are sturdy creatures and also love their chippies.
Cargo bikes are popular for businesses. Especially food delivery.
The thistle is Scotland's national flower and is found everywhere, as is heather. Both brilliant purple plants line highways, fields and even sand dunes by the beach (above).
This photo of thistle and heather was taken roadside at Mohr 84 in Balquidder, at the foot of the highlands on Cycle Route 7.
Related on the dandyBLOG:
dandy Scotland part 1 - Kits and Kilts (Grasstrack race at the Crieff Highland games.)
dandy Scotland part 2 - The oldest working bicycle in the world (Yes, it's a dandyhorse.)
dandy Scotland part 4 - Glasgow vs Edinburgh (Roll vs stroll.)