Riding and Striding Moniaive’s ‘Road to Nowhere’

We woke up to a morning of bright freshness and hope. It was one of those days that teased you with glimpses of spring and the possibility that the last few weeks of winter bleakness and bitterness might truly be behind us. (We’ve been fooled before, of course). So why we found ourselves heading for the snow line is anybody’s guess. This is the parable of today’s little jaunt to one of the Striding Arches.

­­­­­­­­­Our journey’s first highlight was the newborn lambs in a field not far from our house. One of the little white ones was born in the midst of a snowstorm earlier in the week and we remarked to ourselves that not only was nature so cruel as to wrench a lamb, cosy in the womb, into such a hostile environment, but also how pathetic us humans are in comparison. (The lamb toughed it out, by the way, and is looking bigger by the day).

Our trundle wended its’ way past other fields of pregnant sheep, squawking jays hidden in densely packed manmade forest, greylag geese enjoying a temporarily flooded field, and – possibly – a hobby. Out of Moniaive we headed north west following Cairn Water and past elegant stone cottages that looked more like outposts of a castle, with wooded gardens carpeted with snowdrops, before the views opened up into a gentle valley with hills beyond topped with a layer of snow as even and fine as icing powder on a cake. At a cattle grid we had to leave the bikes behind to walk the final mile through snow to our destination.

There are a few ‘roads to nowhere’ in the environs of Moniaive in Dumfriesshire; dead-end roads that usually follow the path of a burn through peaceful green valleys. They often creep upwards stealthily, giving that uncomfortable effect of having a hard time getting to the end of them for no fathomable reason until triumphantly (or otherwise), one turns around and discovers how easily one can (mostly) freewheel back. This one takes you to the Byre, a sandstone arch partly concealed within a small stone building, created by sculptor Andy Goldsworthy. It’s a gentle pedal of around seven miles from the village and the road and though potholed here and there, is mostly easy to cycle with road tyres and is well worth the detour for sweeping panoramas of forested hills, fast flowing rivulets and curious robins and chaffinches flitting in and out of the shelter of trees to guide you on your way while red kites circle overhead.­­

If your Lycra has been hibernating at the bottom of the drawer for the last wee while then this might just be the route to reawaken your legs to pedalling for spring 😊

~ 2021 Carbon Footprint Challenge update ~

It’s time to reveal whether I’ve managed to remain within my Paris Climate Agreement carbon budget for one of the most punishing months of the year… how did I get on?

Well, in spite of the triple-threat of sub-zero temperatures, lethally icy roads and a flare up of mechanical back pain, I’m pleased to say that so far I’m on track with carbon to spare! With a grand total of 305 miles driven in January, from a budget of 372.

Want to join in? Read the Introduction to This Year’s Challenge to find out more about how I calculated my figures, and chart your own anti-climate change travel revolution!

Want to put your money where your mouth is? Then consider being the first to donate to my fundraising page for the Trees for Life Cycle for the Climate campaign to combat climate change by rewilding the Scottish Highlands.

And happy cycling throughout February!

7 January, 2021

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