Autumn circular with brambles, hips & haws

(The map for this route can be found here)

Well, after a dull morning, the sun came out and so did I. Early on it had shown all the promise of a classic Autumn day – bright sun, a nip in the air, trailers of mist on the hills – but then it all went grey and I thought I wouldn’t bother. Then in the afternoon the clouds dispersed and I though it was too good a day to waste indoors. I found with shame that both my serviceable mounts – the Dream Roadster and the 1934 Royal Sunbeam – needed air in their tyres. Was it so long since I had been out?

After a brief consideration I chose the Sunbeam: it suited the day better, somehow. Before setting out a buzzing made me look up and there was a microlight enjoying what must have been a beautiful view. You need good eyes to see the microlight, but I like the accidental saltire made by the wires – and what a fine sky!

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What route to choose? I decided to take the old road to the West out of Perth which starts with a long climb called Necessity Brae. This makes a fine pairing with the splendidly-named Needless Road, which runs off the Glasgow Road into Craigie. To get there, I decided to take the route round Craigie Hill – it being the especial pleasure of the cyclist to go by secret ways and strange, where motor cars cannot.

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This path swoops around the base of Craigie Hill under a leafy canopy for much of the way:

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Necessity Brae is a strenuous climb in low gear but a merciful bend hides the upper section and keeps you going. This is the view looking back to Perth

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at the top, you are rewarded with brambles, or blackberries, if you prefer.

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They never tasted better: solar-powered Blackberries.

And here we see that great rarity, a Sunbeam recumbent:

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It’s a good viewing point – you can look North East, across to Strathmore, with Kinnoull Hill on the right,

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or North to the Grampians

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The Brae takes you up out of Strathtay, the valley of the Tay, and over a shoulder of land to Strathearn, the broad and splendid valley of the Earn.

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There is a fine descent into Strathearn,  but age brings caution: I enjoy going down hills, but no longer at full-tilt as I did in my youth.  I find the conviction that I am immortal has weakened with the years.

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Once down, I swung back  Eastward towards Craigend and so to Perth.

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There are a couple of handsome railway bridges over the Earn, where the lines out of Perth branch South to Edinburgh and West to Glasgow. This is the Westward route:

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and this is the Southern route, marching away across fields of gold, while the Western route runs across the middle ground:

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A fine bush of red berries made me think of Seamus Heaney and The Haw Lantern, though these I think were hips.

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Further on I found what I think were haws, but I am open to correction. My father told us often on country walks, but alas! I did not heed him well enough.

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Approaching Craigend I was surprised by a stiff ascent and exercised the first rule of cycling, ‘it’s all right to walk’.

Remounting, I joined the main road from Edinburgh to Perth, a short climb over the same shoulder I had crossed earlier in the opposite direction. I passed a fellow-cyclist enjoying his share of brambles and really should have been sociable and stopped but I was eager to be home (why? there was no rush) so made do with an exchange of greetings. I caught a glimpse of the classic view of Perth coming from the South East but I fear the picture does not do it justice:

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And so home again, feeling as always much the better for having been out on my bicycle. What better way to spend a fine September afternoon?

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