A circular route with lung bursting climbs but panoramic views (also part of the South Scotland Coast to Coast)
Dunbar was the birth place of John Muir, founder of the National Parks system in the United States of America. Until recent times he was comparatively unknown in Scotland, but with conservation having a higher profile nowadays, and the birth of the John Muir Trust here, you are also hearing quite a lot more about John Muir. Much of this has been controversy over the restoration of John Muir's house in Dunbar, which is of course well worth visiting. In the 1960s Dunbar seemed a rather ordinary place, just another East Lothian town by the seaside. Now it seems a beautiful little town with a well laid out High Street full of historic buildings and an interesting harbour. There's also a modern swimming pool and a wide choice of tea rooms and pubs.
Abbey St Bathans:
"A parish in Berwickshire, situated in the midst of the Lammermuir hills, about 6 1/2; miles in length, and 3 in breadth. The soil is light and dry, and, on the banks of the Whittader, fertile and well cultivated; but the hilly district is barren, and covered with heath. Here are the remains of the ancient abbey of Bernardines, founded in 1170, for which Ada Countess of March swore fealty to Edward I of England, in 1296. The Earl of Wemyss has lately built an elegant sporting villa, called the retreat, about a mile from the small kirkton of Abbay. Population in 1801, 138." From Gazetteer of Scotland published 1806, Edinburgh. Even in 2005 it seems little changed
Dunbar is a train station on the Edinburgh to London railway line but not all trains stop there. The cycle route is in a surprisingly rural part of Scotland. Despite being comparatively near to the A1 main road and not very far from Edinburgh it seems hardly changed from 50 years ago.The eastern end of the Lammermuir Hills reaches the sea here and the escarpments plunge from around 300 metres to nearly sea level. The route passes over Lothian Edge and Monynut Edge with associated lung bursting climbs and rapid descents - great views though. If starting at Dunbar it's important to avoid cycling along the A1. The minor road crossing the A1, and leading to Spott leaves Dunbar from the High Street, just east of the tourist office and train station. It's beside a red sandstone church and is signposted: Spott. Take care crossing the A1 at the roundabout. If you are arriving by car it might be best to start at Spott.
From Spott there's a taste of hills to come as the road descends steeply down the side of a hill called The Brunt, then climbs steeply up the other side. After The Brunt it's a right turn for Elmscleugh Farm - you can rely on the various dogs, geese, hens etc to make a considerable noise as you pass. From Elmscleugh there's a climb of 174 metres to the top of the hill. At the top section you enter a forest, there's a fork in the road, you can go either way but the right fork takes you past Cranshaws Farm Tea Room which you'd miss out otherwise. After four or five miles on the B6355 you cross the bridge at Ellemford. Here you have the choice of going down a forest dirt road by the river, or contining a further two miles on the B6355 to get to Abbey St Bathans on a minor road. The minor road is very hilly.
Abbey St Bathans is the site of a 12th century Cistercian priory; the village is surrounded by ancient oak woods and there is a restaurant, a picnic area and a trout farm. There are pleasant walks by the river. Leave Abbey St Bathans by following the road east (upstream), ignore the right turn for Monynut, you pass an off-road driving school then turn left for Oldhamstocks. In Oldhamstocks turn right for Innerwick then follow signs for Innerwick. If you fancy a detour go and see ruined Innerwick Castle, this is down a rough path a few hundred metres after crossing a high stone bridge at a T junction. The large building in the distance by the sea is Torness Nuclear Power Station. Keep straight on through Innerwick, just beyond the village look for a piece of poetry carved in stone by the left hand side of the road. At the next T junction turn left signed Elmscleugh, then right signed The Brunt, keep straight on, descending then climbing to Spott.