Many cities in Europe have cycle hire schemes, the type where you put a credit card into a machine and then take a bicycle. Earlier in 2015 there were newspaper stories about the possibility of such a scheme coming to Edinburgh. Glasgow already has a scheme with 400 bicycles across 31 hire stations. Abellio, the new operator of Scotrail, announced that they would introduce cycle hire at train stations. Drem station in East Lothian would make an ideal candidate for a cycle hire facility and this is why...
Although the station is in a rural area it is only 25 minutes from Edinburgh and provides easy access to many visitor attractions within short cycling distances. The roads are light on traffic and largely flat, so it is ideal for people new to cycling. The station could easily become a leisure cycling destination with daytrippers travelling from Edinburgh, perhaps it might even be possible to offer a combined rail and cycle hire ticket and even discounted entry to some of the visitor attractions.
I have blogged about the variety of interesting things to see and do from Drem station. Here are five that can be visited on short cycle trips from the station:
Visit Concorde at the National Museum of Flight- 3.8 miles from Drem station
Motoring nostalgia at Myreton Motor Museum- 2 miles from Drem station
Climb to the top of an iron age hill fort- Chesters hill fort is a little over a mile from Drem station
Visit the birthplace of Scotland's flag- 2 miles from Drem station
Climb to the top of a tower for stunning views over the countryside towards the sea- the Hopetoun Monument is a little under 3 miles from Drem station
Do you agree that Drem would be a good place to have a cycle hire scheme? Are there any other train stations that you think should have cycle hire available?
If you had told me that this blog would eventually result in me being on the radio I would never have believed you. But this is exactly what happened- on Easter Monday I was a guest on East Coast FM, talking about cycling in Scotland.
East Coast FM is the radio station of East Lothian, a council area to the east of Edinburgh that includes towns like North Berwick, Musselburgh and Prestonpans. The presenter of the mid-morning show, Jim Anderson, had seen my Twitter profile and contacted me to ask if I would like to appear on the show. We spoke on the 'phone and Jim said that he was interested in my quest to see all of Scotland by bicycle and that we could chat about this live on the radio. I thought that it might be an interesting thing to do and would help to publicise my blog so we agreed on Easter Monday as the day to make my radio debut.
The closer it got to Easter Monday the more nervous I became. Jim had reasured me that it was going to be informal and we were just to have a normal conversation as if we were friends chatting. There would be no scripts, but I couldn't help myself thinking about what I would say and worrying about how I would come across.
The radio station is located in Haddington, about 20 miles east of Edinburgh. I decided to take my bike on the train to Longniddry where there is a 4.5 mile cycle path to Haddington. It would be daft not to cycle, considering what I would be talking about, but when I arrived Jim joked, "we thought you'd arrive by car!"
Jim put me at ease right away and explained how things would go, that he would ask me some questions and play some music. When I first started talking I felt a bit nervous- I had a microphone right in front of me and Jim was sat opposite me with lots of buttons and dials. I soon relaxed into it and started to enjoy the experience.
It was a chance for me to share my passion about bicycle travel in Scotland. We covered a lot of topics including my favourite places, when I first got interested in cycling, where I want to go to next, cycling safety and advice for people new to cycling.
I was on the show for about 40 minutes, including the music between our conversation. Jim and I talked for a few minutes and he played some music between the topics. During the songs we were off air and Jim asked me how I felt it was going and reasured me that I was coming across well. This really helped to make the experience enjoyable and relaxing.
This was certainly the best thing to have come out of my blog and I am really glad that I took the opportunity to give it a go. It was good fun and I hope that it has helped to get some more people interested in travelling around Scotland on a bicycle. Jim said that there could be an opportunity for me to make a further appearance on the show, so make sure to listen out for me on East Coast FM .
Until I began cycling regularly in the Scottish countryside I had absolutely no interest in flowers. I never thought about them. They were insignificant to me. But nowadays it is not uncommon for me to slam on the brakes and risk an accident to take a closer look at something pretty growing on the road verge.
Cycling makes me notice things more, the small details that are easy to miss when using other modes of transportation. Flowers are one of those small things that are much easier to spot from a bicycle saddle.
I found that the more I cycled the more I became interested in the flowers that I spotted. I got off my bike to bend down and get a closer look at their colour and shape. I began to take close up photos of them. They became just as important as the landscapes and buildings that made up the photographic record of each of my journeys.
I purchased one of those cheap flower spotting guidebooks that can be picked up in the gift shops of castles and other tourist attractions. I use the book to try to put a name to the flowers in my photos. I am not always able to identify them as you can see from some of the blank descriptions among the photos here. Do you know the names of any of the flowers pictured here?
Scotland has many beautiful flowers and seeing them always makes me smile. They contribute to the enjoyment of cycling trips, make me feel lucky to be exploring Scotland.
I have my favourites. Wood Sorrel, that delicate white and yellow flower that carpets forest floors always brings me joy. Foxgloves are so tall and sturdy in comparison, but just as endearing with their variety of colours and bell-shaped flowers. Do you have any favourites?
Drem station is one of the best places to arrive with a bicycle because of the sheer variety of destinations within short cycling distances. It is an ideal day trip from Edinburgh as the train takes only 25 minutes to get to Drem. This blog features the Hopetoun Monument, a 4km cycle from Drem. The monument has stunning panoramas of countryside and sea, once you make it to the top of the 132 steps.
The Hopetoun Monument cuts a distinctive shape, rising from a hillside thick with trees. It looks industrial, functional, like a smokestack The countryside is mainly flat in this area, so the monument really stands out and will pique your curiosity. I didn't know anything about it until I came here and deciced to cycle towards it to find out what it is.
There is a small car park where the path up to the monument begins. You can leave your bike in the car park whilst you head up the path. There is an impressive mixture of trees, including beech, oak, ash, sycamore and Scots pine.
It is quite a steep climb up the Byres hill, but only takes around 10 minutes to reach the door of the monument.
A plaque on the tower states that the monument was built in 1824 in memory of the 4th Earl of Hopetoun.
The chances are that it will be windy up here and even windier at the top of the tower. As I made my way up the stairs I could hear the wind billowing and it buffeted me each time I passed the narrow windows that run up the tower.
Some of the window recesses were filled with tiny little twigs, once a nest for birds.
This short video records the last few steps to the top of the monument and the incredible view from the top:
From the top you can see the expanse of East Lothian's fertile lands. You can see out to the Firth of Forth, the Pentland Hills and The Lammermuir Hills.
To reach the Hopetoun Monument turn left out of Drem station onto the B1377. Then take the first left- this road will take you past Chesters Hill Fort, which is also worth visiting. When this road emerges at a junction take a right on the B1343.
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle.