It was a long one on Saturday...
I set off at 07:30 after a long lie to 7am (woohoo!), intending to tick another destination off my" places to go" list - somewhere I've always fancied cycling to but haven't done so, yet...
A jolly sight is spotted a few miles after setting off - if you click on the above picture to enlarge it you will see the happy face on the top right bale bag.
I like the contrast of the golden field behind the bright red gate.
Another farm sign for the collection.
Soon I'll be heading past Formakin which we visited recently in the car. Here you can see one of the estate houses nestling amongst the trees.
Swallows on the wires, hopefully not ready to leave us just yet.
Passing another of the very attractive Formakin buildings. Above the centre arch is the 1694 DL carving.
A peaceful country road. At this stage I'm still on the borders of the Formakin Estate (note the distinctive stone gate posts). Shortly after this I pass through the village we used to live in before we moved to where we stay now.
Then I'm there...
... on top of the Erskine Bridge!
Every time I drive over this bridge (which I have done a couple of times recently to reach Wilkinsons!) I always think how I'd love to walk or cycle over it so that I could admire the view properly. Well, here it is (looking to the west), and it is indeed beautiful. It's also noisy on the bridge (it's a fast dual carriageway), and I'm wary of lingering too long at the edge as it's so high I do feel a bit giddy and worry foolishly that I'll drop my camera.
I had originally thought that once I was over the bridge I would just turn round and head back again towards home, but I decide instead to keep going.
There are actually very few suitable roads for cycling on the north side of the Clyde at this point (we're lucky on our side (the south) to have a large network of unclassified roads linking all the farms) so I make my way onto the cycle path along the Forth Clyde canal. As I've not been along it before I do make a few wrong turns...
...such as heading into the Bowling Basin, but I'm so glad I did. It's a pretty little spot for mooring boats with a couple of picnic areas and some excellent views over the Clyde.
Here is a view of the Erskine Bridge over which I have just cycled.
These two lovely pieces of ceramic art were adorning some otherwise plain and ordinary concrete picnic benches.
I spot a sign nearby telling me that Loch Lomond is only 10 miles away. Hmm! As I've come this far I reckon I might as well keep going, we've no other plans for the days and I'm not needed back at the house just yet.
The route up to Loch Lomond is a cycle path along the river Leven, reasonably pleasant but not terribly exciting though at one point we do get to cycle through a field of cows (and cow pats).
Made it! This is the scene from the bridge in Balloch at the very southernmost tip of Loch Lomond. I carry on up to the country park to get some better views.
A little corner of Balloch castle (the rest of it isn't looking too pretty)
And a view over Loch Lomond.
I do realise now that I need to cycle all that way back home again! I eat a couple of cereal bars from my stash and climb gingery back onto my bike and head back down the cycle path which now seems very bumpy. My bum, knees and feet are all starting to feel rather tender!
I'm all set to follow exactly the same route as I took on the way out as it is the shortest and most direct (without going along the motorway!). So I go back down the cycle path, along the canal, back over the bridge (on the east side this time, no photos - the west side is definitely more picturesque), and back along the country roads towards home. I start to feel rather hungry again, on pausing on the roadside to rummage through my bar bag I realise all my snacks are gone. Never mind, there's a big bramble bush right beside me with some lovely ripe berries ready to pick, yummy, a little tart but so tasty. I take a look at the map and spot a potential little detour, it'd be boring after all to follow exactly the same route back as I did out, so off I go for another little exploration. It's just a landrover track...
...but it has some lovely views...
...and some big puddles! There's enough space on the verge to get by so I keep my feet dry.
I don't get home till after 3pm. I'm aching all over and can't wait to get off the bike. I've done at least 50 miles, the furthest for a long time, and it definitely feels like it too!
I should be OK again for next Saturday though I'll plan a shorter route, perhaps. By the way, remember that next Saturday is also the closing date for my pass the book giveaway draw!