A Tweeddale paths group is responsible for sparking a new coast to coast cycle route taking in the northern Borders.
For the Upper Tweed Railway Paths (UTRP) group commissioned the founders of the UK’s most popular long distance bike ride – the existing ‘C2C’ in the north of England – to see what they could do with the dismantled railways in the area.
And the pair, David Gray, formerly the sustainable charity Sustrans’ first north east England coordinator, and the charity’s founder and former chief executive, John Grimshaw CBE, have created a Scottish C2C.
David told The Southern: “Cycling from one coast to another has a definable magic and sense of achievement.”
He said the route follows the course of three river valleys, ancient roads, challenging climbs and spectacular views, capturing the Scottish lowlands in two days in a way that no car journey ever can.
“I had a romantic idea that cycle travel is at the same pace as horse travel; it’s a journey that has been made for centuries by many, including the armies of Robert the Bruce and Bonnie Prince Charlie.”
The new 122-mile route, signposted south to north so far, starts at Annan on the Solway Firth and finishes at South Queensferry on the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh, passing through the Annan, Tweed and Esk valleys and the Southern Upland and Moorfoot Hills in between.
From Annan, cyclists take back roads, to Moffat, up to the Devils Beef Tub and pedal on via Tweedsmuir, Dreva, Stobo and Lyne to Peebles as the suggested overnight stop.
Taking the off-road track - and former railway line to Innerleithen, cyclists then turn left and follow the B709 up the Moorfoots to 400m and carry on to Dalkeith, Musselburgh and cycle paths skirting Edinburgh to finish under the Forth Bridge.
Chris said: “We have the permission of the Wemyss and March Estate to create a good railway path (from Lyne) to Peebles and we hope that this work can start before long.
“But in the meantime the surface is firm and suitable even for touring bikes to take advantage of the Neidpath Viaduct and its adjacent 500m long tunnel.”
And they are negotiating with landlords to try to take the section from the Beef Tub to Peebles off the main road.
They hope to apply for planning for the Lyne to Peebles track this month, with basic works to clear vegetation and debris carried out by a volunteer work camp in the late summer.
The new route map was launched in earlier this month and an inaugural ride is planned for April 26-27.
David told TheSouthern the new route should give a boost to the local economy.
He said: “We hope the new C2C will bring economic benefits to local businesses such as cafes, tea rooms, bunkhouses, campsites, support transport, repair services and merchandise as it does with the north of England C2C, where there are 15.000 completers each year, taking three days and spending £40 per person per day.”
David and his company, Chain Events, will be running supported rides from this month onwards.