Over the hill to Bathgate and back




May 2012
100 km



Visiting old haunting grounds... When I moved to Scotland in 1996, I lived with a family in Carfin for a week while househunting before finding a flat in Balloch 70 km to the west. I returned to Norway to organise my relocation to Scotland and then moved to Balloch one month later. The family no longer lives in Carfin and I have lost touch long time ago. But I have always wanted to go back again and see the place again. After I did the first rides from Airdrie some kilometers to the north, I also did some more research on the maps for a ride out of Carfin. I found this ride and decided on it. But it was put on the backburner for a while though. But I finally decided on doing this ride on this day.



The alarm clock went off at 0500 and I had a breakfast before I cycled down to the trainstation in Paisley for the train to Glasgow and then the Edinburgh train to Carfin. It seemed like the Carfin trainstation was almost derilict as I had to report to the train attendant and let him open the door to the platform from the train. Well, I guess starting from Carfin is a once in a lifetime experience for me. The train over Carfin to Edinburgh has been made obsolete with the new service over Airdrie too.
The ride up from the trainstation at Carfin was pretty vertical, but also interesting. I hardly recogniced this road which I had visited back in 1996. The road also took me through Newarthill on it's way up to the A73 mainroad and a roundabout there. I crossed the road and then the A73 again on the pavements before I started on the B7066, the old Edinburgh road. I could see it go up a big hill and I made my way up to the start of the big hill climb. A very good hill climb too. I took a picture from near the top of it.



Looking down the road towards Glasgow from the first steep section

The climb continued through Salsburgh, intercepted by some flat road inbetween the hillclimbs. The weather was good, but still very cold. But I was still sweating up this hill. The road took me past an old church before it topped out at 300 meters above sea level. The views from this top was fantastic and it is one of the better viewspoints I have ever visited in the central belt of Scotland. Here is some pictures of the views.



From the top of the hill, looking down the road



Looking down south towards Shotts



Looking down north towards the Campsie mountains



Looking towards the mountains at the Southern Uplands in the east



Looking down the vertical drop down to the valley floor again, towards east

After taking in these views, I continued on the vertical drop down to the moor again. The road took me alongside M8 to the middle point and the highest point on this motorway between Glasgow and Edinburgh; the much feared Harthill. The service station is much featured on the TV every time there is a snowstorm and many cars has become stucked in a snowdrift here. It has even cost a government minister his job. But the place is a nice village and nothing more. But I can now put Harthill in my “trophy room” too. My tempo was very high on this flat road and I continued through the roundabouts at Whitburn towards Blackburn. A place known as a part of Edinburgh's commuter belt and the place where the singing sensation Susan Boyle lives. I am by no means a fan though. I took a picture though....



Just outside Blackburn, where one of the best selling recording artists this year currently lives

The road through Blackburn was a bit undulating with a nice climb up to a viewpoint again. I had a look at Livingston which I had decided not to bother about on this ride as it is known for it's horrendous traffic and roundabouts. The skies was also very dark and I was fearing some pretty horrendous rain. I stopped outside Blackburn and took this picture over Livingston.



Looking down at Livingston

I turned my bike around towards north and then west again in the roundabouts at Cousland Woods after covering 30 km or so. The road started to climb through some more roundabouts and over the M8 motorway towards Bathgate. Pretty heavy cycling and not helped by the threatening dark clouds overhead. I first reached the big trainstation, which seems to be catering for the commuters on the new Bathgate to Edinburgh line, and then Bathgate itself. I went to a Greggs bakery and got some food and took a small break at a square in Bathgate.

I continued my way up some hills towards Armadale. For some reasons, my body was not particular good and I slowed down a lot through Armadale and up to Blackridge. I have no idea why. Blackridge seemed a bit strange. Some big farmfields and a trainstation with plenty of empty parking spaces. The village was very small. Maybe – hopefully -, Blackridge is a work in progress as a commuter town for Edinburgh. It has a very nice location with plenty of nice scenery surrounding it. After Blackridge, I picked up a lot of speed again up some 2-5 degrees steep hills. Maybe because this is my type of favorite terrain this year. I stopped to take a picture of the big hill I had gone over on my way down to Harthill.



The mountain I cycled over on the previous pictures

I was pretty quickly up at the top of this climb and the beginning of the ride alongside Hillend Reservoir . This lake seems to be a big favorite among among anglers and joggers.



At Hillend Reservoir between Armadale and Caldercruix

I forgot to take the bikepath and stucked to the road instead. The road was very good and I cleared the loch in a matter of minutes. I passed Caldercruix at the end of the loch and took the road down towards Airdrie. My tempo was very good down to the roundabouts in Airdrie. I got a bit caught up in the traffic just before the railway station. But I cleared that and continued down the hills to the pretty big town Coatbridge. I crossed the road before the big roundabout and got onto the B804 road up towards Glenboig through the town centre. A vertical climb was followed by a vertical drop down to some small roundabouts. I bought a chocolate in a kiosk here before I started on another vertical hillclimb again. It was followed by a vertical drop out of the town and onto some very undulating roads before I reached Glenboig. This really set the pattern for the rest of the ride down to Glasgow. Undulating roads with some short, steep climbs and vertical drops alongside farmfields and through villages. Good fun, though. I reached Johnston Loch and took the road over to Chryston. More climbs followed.



A good view of the Campsie Hills from the road between Chryston and Lenzie

I reached the A819 road in Lenzie and continued on my way around Gadloch and the hill climbs and drops over to the beginning of Glasgow; the imposing hill called Springburn. It was now raining a bit, but I cracked on and the rain ended when I took the now familiar B808 over Maryhill towards Partick and Clyde Tunnel. This subsea tunnel took me under the river to the south side of Glasgow and home again after a very nice ride.


Conclusion



A pretty good ride on a road between Glasgow and Edinburgh not many has heard about. A route I would love to do the whole way from Edinburgh to Glasgow one day. Please note that the railway line over Carfin is probably closed on Sundays. In any case; Motherwell is only 3 km down the road from Carfin and a much better starting (and cheaper) point than Carfin. The best bits of the ride was Carfin over to Harthill and the Armadale to Airdrie. The rest is OK. It is an interesting area which I guess has a lot better bikerides than this one. But the 300 meters big hill is alone worth this tour. Will I do it again ? Yes, but from Motherwell next time and probably over Shotts too. It is a nice, obscure tour though and it is sort of recommended.