Continued from previous post:
I unceremoniously crossed the bridge over the Tweed into Coldstream, Scotland and the final phase of the adventure on Wednesday. We filmed a few pieces by the famous bridge before heading into town for a charge. The charger in the town car park was run by Charge Place Scotland, with whom we had yet to sign up so we headed over the road to the Besom Inn and asked the landlord if we could plug in for an hour or two. We passed the time drinking tea and catching up on computer jobs, although while wandering out to enjoy the sunset, Finn got chatting to John Mackay, owner of the fish and chip van plying its trade in the car park who promised us a hot supper if we came back just before closing.
So, replete with greasy goodness we set out into the night on the beautiful and almost empty Scottish roads to Edinburgh. I knew it was a long run and a test of the range of the bike so kept the speed down into the headwinds I was starting to encounter. As the miles rolled by, the State Of Charge needle started to fall. Sheparding my remaining charge, knowing it would be close, I deftly navigated the suburbs of Edinburgh and arrived at the prearranged road junction to meet up with Finn and our Hosts for the night. Unfortunately, before setting off, we’d arranged to meet at the wrong junction! I doubted I would make it as I retraced my steps to find the house, running on empty for a couple of miles before the bike finally clunked to a stop. A few minutes rest allowed me to start it back up and pull into a handy driveway, where a local biker pulled over to check all was well and we chatted as I awaited the ‘van of shame’ to take me the final mile to my destination.
It’s all part of a learning process, and my lack of an onboard charger was the biggest regret as I’m in no doubt that one of the houses nearby would have lent me a socket for twenty minutes, and the reason I ran out was trying to cut it too fine, with an unexpected detour. It is testament to the reliability of the ‘fuel gauge’ that I have become so trusting of the bike’s range over the last 800 or so miles. Anyway, lesson learnt!
So, after that ignominious entrance, our hosts Maxine and Allan were very welcoming, feeding us an enormous and tasty aubergine curry before we eventually slinked off to bed at about midnight.
The morning saw us depart on our biggest detour yet as we headed from Edinburgh to Glasgow, only to end up 15 miles North of Edinburgh, in Dunfermline, by nightfall. Our detour was to visit (via a quick Asda chargepoint top-up) Glasgow University to interview a professor who is working on a liquid flow battery with enough energy density to power a car, but by draining and refuelling the electrolyte, can be “recharged” in minutes; fascinating stuff. We stuck the bike in with the campus’ fleet of electric vans and set off with enough charge to make the return leg, up to Dunfermline, with juice to spare. Here we had found a friendly couple, Sarah and Allan, through the ‘couchsurfing’ website who were happy to put us up. They would be back late so we enjoyed a bit of a treat, a meal out at an Indian, before heading back to meet them and exchange tales of the road, as they had a few miles under their belts as well!
On Friday morning, a cold but bright day took us up to Dundee, the perhaps unlikely location of an electrical revolution! Dundee council have spent several years backing sustainable transport, resulting in some of the highest EV uptake in Europe. 15% of the city’s taxis are electric, and every new one must be, and the council’s own fleet is over 50% electric, with the majority of those still running fossil fuels being the high-value and long-life assets like bin lorries. After filming, I stayed with the charging bike and Finn headed off to the train station to pick up Becca, his girlfriend, who has been helping out on the trip from a distance and is joining us for the last leg. From Dunfermline we all headed North to another intriguing couchsurfing find; a free pitch for our tent in the garden of a castle!
It took us a little while to find, just North of Alyth, and we arrived in the dark at Bamff Castle to be met by Malcolm, his wife Rachel and son Gilbert. We pitched the tent by torch light and settled in for cold night under clear, starry skies. A few beers kept the cold away overnight as we all slept in every garment we owned and awoke to snow on the ground! We unanimously decided to have a lie in, only getting up at about ten, and decided that with a few jobs to do on the bike and us all thoroughly exhausted from a fortnight’s hard work, we would stop here another night.
Bamff Castle is an amazing place, owned by Paul and Louise Ramsey, they have been re-wilding their land as a nature reserve. They have even reintroduced beavers, that Becca and I crept around in the night trying to spot after Finn saw one on a wander around their dams.
We’ve just woken up after our second night in the same spot, refreshed and ready to go, and as soon as I’ve sent this missive off into the ether we’ll set off. The plan was to head north, along the old military road into the Highlands but the morning ice and forecast for sub-zero temperatures at altitude today means that we’re going to head east, sticking to lower levels and skirting around the highlands proper until tomorrow, when the forecast is better and we’ll cut west across the Northern edge of the mountains for some dramatic scenery.