Sandstone Way MTB

Mon, Apr 29, 2024

Sandstone Way MTB

Near the end of April I betook myself and my bike for an expedition along the Sandstone Way. Back to my cycle touring roots, to find it’s now called bikepacking. Unless you use panniers!

Ever since I’d read about the Sandstone Way, a 120 mile off road cycling route in Northumberland, I fancied riding it. It starts in Hexham and winds its way across farmland, over moors and along quiet lanes, finishing in Berwick. It seems most people ride it north to south, against the prevailing wind but I wanted to ride it south to north, with the prevailing wind, or so I thought but also because it meant the long train journey was at the start. Skye to Hexham is a long way. However, looking at the map and google earth, I didn’t really fancy the traffic around Hexham and the countryside round Rothbury looked farmy and a large coniferous monoculture I wanted to avoid so I came up with an alternative, starting at Haydon Bridge, one train stop before Hexham and detouring via Elsdon to Pedlar’s Stone, rejoining the route at Holystone. It turned out to be a grand detour indeed, riding the Heely Dod Road up to 1000 feet, past a bastle and resting at the beautiful stone walls of the Pedlar’s Stone, which is apparently now incorporated in the curving walls. I created GPS routes on the OS app and downloaded them to the phone, more for the offline maps that resulted than turn by turn navigation as I had the official map for that. I would think this is really essential as the route, although fairly well signed going north, isn’t that clear in places so it was always good to refer to the map while using the OS maps on the phone for general navigation. As for gear, I’d used bikepacking bags on the Isle of Rhum for a few days camping but it was far easier on the Sandstone Way to use my Ortlieb panniers with the tent in a Gorilla Cage on the front fork. The other fork had a 950ml water bottle in another Gorilla Cage and another 950ml water bottle on the frame. Everything else was in the panniers apart from a medium size top tube bag I’d made myself, full of snacks. As for accommodation, I wasn’t sure what was what down there. The literature reminds people not to wild camp as it’s England and I didn’t want confrontations if I stopped in a field overnight, plus as I get a wee bit older it’s nice to have some luxuries such as water you can drink without filtering and a toilet! I drink from streams and burns in the highlands all the time and have never filtered the water but I knew down here, with all the farmland, it would need to be filtered, unless my almost 2 litres of clean water from a campsite would see me to the next. So I ended up staying in Greencarts camp site near Newbrough, with its beautiful spring water, Clennel camp site, Wooler YH and The Barn at Beal camping. I’d camped at Beal on St. Cuthbert’s Way and really liked it, with its views over to Lindisfarne and I knew I could have a slap-up meal in the restaraunt where the food is top notch. I finished it all off with a night in Glasgow Central Travelodge. They’re good value for money and you can take your bike into the room. I had a load of Expedition Foods I’d collected for mountain camping so I took them along for the tent nights with fish ’n chips in Wooler and a superb fish finger sandwich at Beal which filled me up so much I didn’t need dinner that night! I loaded everything onto the Genesis Longitude to try it out and it felt good to be back on the touring bike. I worried the Shimano MX5 boots would be too warm for late April but in the end they proved pretty much essential. With the route and accommodation sorted I turned to booking the transport. Take a break here, make a nice cuppa and find a nice bit of cake, as the next bit is quite hilarious. It needs to be or I’d have gone mad!

Carlisle station

I began the public transport expedition by perusing the fantasy that is the Calmac Skye summer timetable. It hadn’t been that long ago they’d stopped taking online bookings on the Skye route due to not really knowing whether there would be anything to sail on. You just had to turn up and see what was on offer and hope it wasn’t a makeshift raft with a ragged shirt on a broom handle for a sail. However, the website looked as if it had all calmed down again and I could see there was enough time to get to Mallaig from Armadale to make the train connection to Glasgow. So that’s what I booked, Mallaig to Glasgow, including a cycle reservation, at which point the system collapsed. It told me it wasn’t going to give me tickets as I had booked a bike and I should go and get them myself, due to the cycle reservation needing something to be printed by a human. I had some distant memory of seeing a human in the office at Mallaig train station when a train is due so I thought, ok, this is Scotland, I’ll just jump on a mid-week ferry and get them printed in Mallaig then come back on the next ferry. Skye to Glasgow sorted, I turned my attention south and a different app.

The Trainline app is very good indeed. It even works out split ticketing for you, which is apparently something used in Britain to confuse would-be passengers to try to deter them from using public transport. If no-one can understand how the fares work then presumably no-one will use the trains and consequently they’ll last much longer and the maintenance bill will be close to zero, going forward at pace, to use the parlance of these fiscally constrained times. There’s a massive downtick in passenger numbers but the maintence bill is effectively eliminated going forward. All to a round of applause at the boardroom table. But yes, the app is good and the cycle reservations work. It’s a bit too good possibly as it doesn’t take into account you’re from Scotland and may not make it out of the country, to connect with your more southern journey legs. I used the app to book Glasgow to Carlisle, Carlisle to Haydon Bridge and Berwick to Glasgow, all with cycle reservations. I would need to use a machine to print the tickets but that wasn’t an issue as all the stations had machines for doing so. The tickets were very cheap but non-refundable, which turned out to be an important point, given from whence I started, or at least, tried to start. It all turned into transport jenga, thanks to the joke that is Scottish public transport.

The first problem with Scottish public transport is it’s in Scotland, where everything beyond the central belt either doesn’t exist or is just a dumping ground for renewables junk as, well, no-one lives there right? Why would anyone want public transport north of Glasgow? There’s no-one there? A few days after booking all the tickets, there was some pile of crap on the news about ferries again so I thought I’d best revisit the ferry timetable, just to be sure. It was then I spotted that Calmac had collapsed again with the MV Coruisk being taken away from Skye to ply the Oban route and being replaced by the MV Loch Fyne. You wouldn’t think that would be a problem, given that the replacement floats but for some reason Calmac had also changed the timetable. It was now practicallly impossible for me to get the train at Mallaig as Calmac had reduced the connection time to 5mins. I went back to the Scotrail app to change the ticket but it just said to cancel and get a refund. Which worked a treat, minus a fiver admin fee.

Having abandoned all hope of making it over the sea from Skye, I returned to the Scotrail app and scoured the timetables for Kyle of Lochalsh and realised the 06:10 to Inverness would get me to Glasgow much earlier than the Mallaig route so went to book a ticket using the app. All good, until I chose to reserve a cycle space, at which point the app refused to issue an e-ticket and instead told me to go to a station to get the e-tickets printed by the staff. But not at Kyle of Lochalsh. From what I could see the nearest station that would print my e-tickets would be Inverness. Scotrail were in effect telling me that yes, I can travel on their train but in order to do so I must first travel, but not on their train, to the destination, get the staff to print the e-tickets then travel back, again not on their train, to the departure station, then begin the journey. 200 miles to have a ticket printed. I phoned Scotrail to make them aware of this modern, fully featured ticketing system (for Scotland that is) that refuses to issue tickets other than at the destination and was told, if they booked the cycle manually, they would email me the cycle reservation and I could then show this to the guard, book the bum seat for myself using the app and not use the option to book a cycle on the app, in which case it would be an e-ticket on the app. The lady who explained it all was very helpful and she sorted the bike but this country is just a laughing stock when it comes to public transport. Yes you can book your bike using the app but you must get to the destination first, to get your ticket printed, if you have a bike.

Of course, that now meant I would be in Glasgow three hours earlier than if Calmac had been seaworthy and I wasn’t prepared to hang around when I could just be on my way. But the Trainline tickets were all set in stone and non-refundable but being so cheap I just booked new, earlier ones. There was a chance I could have had them changed by a call centre but when trying to make Scotrail aware of their byzantine bike booking system I ended up using the wrong phone number and had been dumped onto a national rail call centre or something who didn’t really know where anything was in Britain. My mental health wouldn’t have stood up to another sortie down that avenue so I just paid the price of Calmac’s inability to float things and got new tickets. History would not be as it is today, had Flora MacDonald had to book a place for The Bonnie Prince on the Lochmaddy to Uig run. They’d probably still be there. But anyway, at least all connections were now booked and I was ready to go.

To go onto The Polar Express. This is the 06:10 from Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve had to chip passengers out of their seats at Inverness, given how utterly, pointlessly, freezing this train is. Apparently it relies on excess heat from the engine in order to keep the passengers slightly above hypothermic but the heat never makes it that far. It warms up slightly by Dingwall, where the commuters get on (coincidence?), to be confronted by extras from Ice Station Zebra. I was shivering in Inverness station cramming chocolote into me in an effort to warm up while waiting to get onto the Glasgow train. Eventually they allowed people to board and it was warm and cosy as I listened to the announcement as we pulled out of the station that, due to staff sickness, there would not be a trolley service. A nice wee coffee on the way down? Aye right, pal, this is Scottish publish transport, pal.

Arriving at Glasgow Queen Street it was immediatly clear the Low Emission Zone didn’t exist as the air in George Square was blue. Literally. Blue. Taxi fumes, bus fumes. Possibly even the curses of irate rail passengers adding to the blueness of the air. I jumped on the bike for the short cycle to Central station, confused by the new road layouts and one-way systems but eventually made it through the HEZ (that’s H for High btw). The connection at Glasgow Central was the usual queue of people waiting for the London train to open, snaking across the concourse and out onto the street, 15mins before departure. Eventually, shuffling through the crowds at the gate the guard called me back and wanted to know if I had a reservation for the bike. I showed him my ticket for my backside and the ticket for the bike and he said aloud, “and you’re going to Carlisle.”. An important observation as it turns out as once it’s on the Avanti train, you cannot access your bike until it gets to London, unless platform staff at your intermediate destination know you need to get it off and they have to unlock the engine compartment to let you in, to get the bike off. As we neared Carlisle it was obvious the guard was not going to re-appear so I said to the lady at the canteen that I needed my bike off at Carlisle, and the guard was fully aware of this but that there was no sign of this person and the bike was inaccessible. I toddled off and came back 10mins later to be told the guard had told her the platform staff at Carlisle would open the engine and let me get my bike out. We arrived at Carlisle, the doors opened, I stepped onto the platform, saw a member of staff and told them I needed my bike off, which set them into a panic. At this point I was fully prepared to jam the door with a pannier and delay the train until someone with any sense turned up. The alternative was for Avanti to keep my bike, take it to London and then, who knows what? Eventually an irate member of the platform staff came striding up the platform having old been told of my requirement when the train arrived at the station. They were very polite to me though and in a jiffy I had the bike out of Avanti’s clutches and was pushing it to the next platform for the final connection to Haydon Bridge.

As the local train pulled in, people got off and I got on with my bike, to be instantly ejected by the guard who then locked the train and walked off. Eventually a different guard turned up, unlocked the train and I re-boarded with the bike. Just under an hour later I was cycling in the evening light out of Haydon Bridge, leaving behind public transport, bound for Newbrough.

The minor road east from Haydon Bridge was very quiet, practically no traffic at all at half five in the evening, rolling up and down before a short climb to Newbrough where I joined the Sandstone Way for the climb up onto the moorland where the tarmac ended and the rough stuff began. At first it was a farm track past Lane House but beyond that it became very steep and unrideable beyond the upper gate. This was my first encounter with a Sandstone Wayt (SW) gate, of which there are many, reputedly one hundred, and some can’t even be opened! Another reason I wasn’t keen on the farmy bits round Rothbury. Farms mean fields mean gates and on the SW, gates usually mean swamps and this first one was in the middle of a swamp with just an inch to wriggle the fully laden bike between the gatepost and a seething, sucking, grey morass that looked very hungry indeed, while repeatedly pushing the heavy gate away, in an uphill direction, letting it slam back into the pannier before shoving it back out of the way. Eventually I got past it, one leg covered in mud where the rear wheel had slid into me. I pushed the bike up the heavily rutted, unrideable grassy slope. It levelled out though and was a pleasant ride over the wet fields in the direction of Hadrian’s Wall in the evening sunshine. It was good to be out, on my bike, away from people. Crossing the deserted road I headed into Greencarts farm, paid a tenner for a space in their seven acres of fields and set up the tent at the bottom of the farm track. The farm is high up and the owner lady is very friendly, allowing me to use the hose to clean the mud off the bike which had almost doubled in weight! I loved the farm cats all clustered round the door, looking expectantly at the window. They have showers (the camp site, not the cats), toilets and the most beautiful spring water to drink and it was utterly peaceful all night. A cracking place to stay.

Greencarts farm campsite

7am the next morning I was on my way, full to the brim of high energy porridge, flying down the narrow road to Simonburn. Flying, that is, when I wasn’t stopped opening gates. It was then a left onto a muddy path. Up here we call them LRTs (Landrover Tracks) and this one was unrideable due to mud and ruts although it improved the nearer to Goatstones I rode. Eventually it just disappeared in a wet, slippy field where I decided to break out to the road rather than slither-push the bike past Goatstones, rejoining the route a few hundred metres up the road at Newtonrigg, then on rough roads to Ravenshaugh where I crossed a wet slippy field and down to a ford before pushing the bike up the very steep and rough path to The Ash. I was glad I’d stuck to the route here though as the ford was stunningly beautiful. Quiet water sheening over the rocks and birds singing from the early morning branches. It was a wonderful, secluded haven. All the mud and pushing was taking its toll though. On a lightly laden MTB on a day trip or B&Bing it would be fine but on a fully laden camping bike it was strenuous work getting it up the rough, muddy, slippy tracks and I had 40 miles to do to Clennel. I decided, if the start of the route over to Bellingham looked the same mudbath I would detour on the road. And so it came to pass that the start of the off road to Bellingham was a rutted mudbath that would have demanded a lot of pushing so I stayed on the deserted narrow road. I couldn’t really see the fun in pushing a bike most of the next 6 or so miles. Instead, I met the route again at the cattle grid and flew down the very very very steep road into Bellingham. This part of the country had been hammered by relentless easterlies that had dumped so much rain that most of the land was just swamp. It was just unrideable and the wheels grew several inches with the stuff, having to scrape it off with sticks after each off road section. Given the conditions I decided against the off road to Hole and instead stayed on the road for the rest of the day as I’d be leaving the route at Raylees anyway where I climbed up over to Elsdon and filled the water bottles at the community hall toilets and looked in vain for the cyclists’ cafe. Unfortunately it’s no more so I just headed out of the village, north and uphill at a very steep angle.

The climb up out of Elsdon was a cracker. A long steady satisfying grind in bottom gear into the north east headwind which was forecast to blow all week. Shortly after leaving Elsdon I heard a lot of grunting, moaning and panting and I glanced over my slow moving shoulder to see a bunch of brighly clad elderly cyclists slowly overtake me amidst olympic level complaining. The eldlerly lady who grunted past me without even a sideways hello blew up shortly afterwards but had the presence of mind to stop in the middle of the road as I was about to crash into her rear wheel when she capitulated to the climb. As the gradient eased they shot off over the hill and I turned first left, down across the moorland and onto the Heely Dod Road, bound for the Pedlar’s Stone.

Pedlars Stone

This is what I love. Remote, quiet, empty roads high up in the hills. It was freezing going into the wind, stopping to go into a bastle, imagining the scene hundreds of years ago surrounded by invading Scots, the altercation going along the lines of “haw, youz in there, get yer arse oot o’ there”, “naw”, “aye”, “naw!”. A plaque stated the Heely Dod Road had been built by the army in 1980, an uncompromising up/doon line across the valleys. Screaming descents followed by grinding climbs but it was wonderful to be up at almost 1000 feet above the surrounding farmlands. The climb up to the lovely house at Craig was meditatve in its steepness and longevity, all the while blasted by an increasingly strong north east gale that promised rain from a grey leaden sky. A chat with some nice ramblers at the Pedlar’s Stone confirmed a usable road to Holystone and off I went. The map shows unpaved roads up here and I was expecting LRTs but the road is smooth tarmac all the way and after pushing up the hill from North Yardhope I turned right and flew down the long steep descent to Holystone. Then left on the deserted road to Clennel where I rolled in to the wrong campsite. There was a sign pointing to the left and marked “camping” so I followed it and walked into Clennell Hall, ringing the reception bell to no effect. I couldn’t get anything from the gardener as he signed he couldn’t turn of the sit-on mower and we therefore couldn’t communicate due to the racket so I went back in and eventually an old lady appeared then disappeared with me being none the wiser as to checking in. Then an elderly gentleman in a flat cap appeared and offered me my camping fee back, in cash. Confusion reigned. I said I’d paid on the phone and he said they’d had a busy weekend so weren’t doing camping, hence the cash refund. Confusion reigned even more! I politely declined his cash offer and eventually the penny dropped. I should have turned right at the sign. “You need to go t’caravan siiiiite”, he said and sure enough, the friendlly lady in the reception cabin welcomed me in and I settled into my tent on Clennell caravan site, not Clennell Hall! I recced the next day’s route where the SW goes through the gate next to the toilet block and disappears up onto the felds, then lay in the tent listening to the increasingly heavy rain that lasted all night. The campsite was great though. I was the only tent and the lady was very friendly and helpful. Another great place to stay I thought.

The next morning was dreich with rain off and on, mostly on but the climb out of Clennell was short and sharp, up onto the fields and then along very quiet roads with some gates to Prendwick where the route went over the side of Wether Hill to Ingram. I really liked this part. It felt remote and wild. The weather was appalling, it was the same freezing NE gale but by now laden with rain although the track itself wasn’t too bad. There was mud and ruts but not as bad as the more southern parts and it felt like a real mountain path as visibility was down to about ten metres. It felt like it could be a risky proposition in winter if the weather and visibility were bad as it was high up and quite remote. It was great though. On through Ingram where the community cafe was closed and where I was convinced I saw Joyce Barnaby off Midsomer Murders! and then along the flat wide road to the left turn up the steep farm track past Nova Scotia. This was another beautiful part of the route. Well away from roads and people, crossing grassy fields, downhill into a wee valley, across a wee stream then a stiff push up the grassy hillside past the cattle then down to Roseden. At the top of the track above the fields I looked back towards Wether Hill cloaked in rain and low cloud and listened to a cacophony of skylarks. There seemed to be hundreds of them, nay, thousands! The climb up to Roseden Edge turned into a push at the top where it was a conveyor belt of rocks and gravel, all heading downhill while I was trying to move uphill and the field at the top was just too soft and slippy to ride, so more pushing ensued. A whooping descent to Ilderton then a goose sat in the middle of the track at the ford. Was it on an egg? Was it injured? it just sat there hissing at me as I rode past, waited for a quad bike to cross then going pell mell across the quite deep ford, whooping and wobbling and spraying across the river. Great stuff! I noticed the road beyond was mostly paved so I took the time to take the panniers off the bike and give it a good wash in the river to get the mud off. I also gave the panniers a quick scrub too as everything was caked in the stuff. From the ford it was quiet lanes to Wooler and the youth hostel.

Wooler Youth Hostel

Wooler Youth Hostel

Wooler Youth Hostel

Wooler Youth Hostel was superb. Checkin is at 5pm and I got there around 2pm but it wasn’t a hardship sitting in the quiet common room having made a nice coffee, reading the posters on the land army and looking over the map for the next day’s ride. The lady arrived and checked me in to a perfect little private en-suite room with a bunk bed. It was the perfect size, warm, clean and I festooned the radiator with wet stuff, enjoying the luxury of the warmth after a wild wet day on the roads and hills and moors. She was very friendly and helpful and I put the tent in the drying room as it weighed double what it should, having a load of Clennell rain in it! The hostel has a locked shed for the bike which was perfect and I went into Wooler in the evening for fish ’n chips from Fry Fry. Very tasty indeed. It was pouring down as I sat on a plastic bag on the bench under the tree at the church, chomping away at my fish supper, in the same spot I sat chomping my fish supper when I passed through on St. Cutherbert’s Way almost a decade ago. Bliss! I got up to take a picture and skidded on a manhole, the phone flying in an arc high up from my flailing hand and crashing down on the tarmac but it was fine. Those MTB boots are pretty slick on wet manhole covers! The hostel was quiet that night and the breakfast was absolutely brilliant. A giant bowl of porridge with sliced banana and honey through it with a huge pot of coffee to wash it all down. Perfect!

Wooler Youth Hostel

Wooler Youth Hostel

The next section was a grinding push up the hill above Wooler, almost vertical I would say! It was well worth it though. At the top of the tarmac it levels out and becomes a track over the fields passing beautiful little woodlands. I really really loved this section. Despite the days of rain it was dry. The sun was out, it was warm, it was perfect. I stopped at a wee woodland at the top and smiled from ear to ear. This was superb I thought. Just right.

Above Wooler

Above Wooler

Trickley Wood above Wooler

Looking back to Trickley Wood above Wooler


It was then quiet lanes to Chillingham and Chatton then a left through the farm at Greendykes and along the track which turned into a morass half way. Back in the mud and it was industrial sized mud!


When I got to the end of the track I had to scrape the mud off the wheels and frame or the bike would barely move. From there it was more quiet lanes to meet up with St. Cuthbert’s Way across the fields and up to St. Cuthbert’s Cave. Since I’d been here years ago they’d cut down all the trees and the cave was now surrounded by plastic tubes. Hopefully one day the tubes will sprout trees that aren’t more conifers. It was wonderful to be back up here though. Quiet, gorgeous and a nice track to Holburn and round the back and down to Detchant.

Looking down St. Cuthbert's Way

Then on past East Kyloe and down the field towards Beal. At the top of the road, the right turn takes you past the church on a wide farm track but there’s a sign with a big arrow pointing right about half-way down which I ignored as I was going too fast! The track stops at the bottom of the field and I had to ride diagonally downhill across the field towards the metal gate but not go through it, then follow the hedge to the bottom gate and down into the lower field. I presume the arrow was pointing down the hedge which seemed to be the main route. Ach well, it was fine in the end. I stocked up with sandwiches for the morrow at the petrol station on the A1 and rolled into The Barn at Beal in a gale force wind and ordered a fantastic fish finger roll and some of the best coffee I’ve ever had. The staff were as friendly and helpful as they were the last time I camped here and the food equally as good. It really is a gem of a stopover on St. Cuthbert’s Way and the Sandstone Way.

The Barn At Beal

Campiong at The Barn At Beal

It was a wild night in the tent with the north east gale blasting down the coast and rocking me in my sleeping bag all night but at least it didn’t rain too much. A quick decamp in the morning saw me on the road just before eight and leaning into the wind across the Lindisfarne causeway for a flying visit.


The ride up the coast track was wonderful if freezing and tiring in the gale force headwind. The Goswick Golfists place had a sign saying walkers welcome but I wanted to push on and get an earlier train out of Berwick. I had a chat with another cyclist at a gate who had used the “wind sock” on Strava(?) and jumped on the train to Berwick and was flying back down the coast in the tailwind! A nice downhill onto the promenade at Berwick and a long climb up to the train station to find one of the panniers hanging off on a single bracket. I’d heard the bolts on the Ortliebs can work loose and here one actually had. It was still in the hook and its grub thingy was still in the slot so it was just a case of screwing them back together. I stood outside the station in the freezing cold, tapping away at the Trainline app and before long was on the next train to Auld Reekie and onwards to Glasgow for a final night in the Travelodge at Glasgow Central, up at Hill Street. I’d heard Travelodges accept bikes and the staff were friendly and helpful with the bike safely ensconced in the warm cosy room. Next morning it was the 07:10 from Queen Street back to Inverness and onwards to Kyle on the not so Polary Express this time!

Did I enjoy the Sandstone Way? Yes, I did. The southern part was very muddy and some shoulder pain, a fully laden bike and a gale force headwind made the off road parts not a pleasant option. If I’d been on a lightly laden B&B tour it would have been a completely different kettle of floating things but a fully laden fat bike sinking into deep mud and wet fields meant I used alternative on road parts. Not to mention having to take the panniers off at a couple of gates that couldn’t be opened and hoisting the bike over. The northern off road sections were much better and I was glad I kept to the route from Clennell northwards. I just didn’t fancy the coniferous wastelands above Rothbury and really wanted to visit the Pedlar’s Stone so I personalised the route to my liking and I’m glad I did. I had a water filter but as I used campsites, potable water wasn’t an issue. Yes I could have wild camped but it’s illegal in England, can lead to some nasty encounters and the SW website had a reminder that wild camping isn’t legal. It must have taken some amount of effort to create the route in the first place, negotiating access through farms and across private land and I wasn’t prepared to chuck a spanner in the access works by causing hassle by camping illegally. The SW isn’t remote as in highlands remote. Give and take. There are good campsites along the route although I imagine they’re mobbed in summer.

Lots of people I know moan endlessly about public transport in Britain and yes it can be a joke but whenever I’ve used it, it’s mostly fine. If Scotrail sorted their ticketing system to allow e-tickets with cycle reservations, which the Trainline app already supports, hoorah! it would have been perfect. The Scotrail app is better in that it has a true e-ticket on the app. You activate it on the day of travel and the guard scans it. No need to print anything. Go on Scotrail, one more productivity push and support cycle e-tickets for the best green transport option in the UK! Calmac though, well, the less said about that organisation the better. You just can’t rely on Calmac ferries. The Scottish parliament ordered two new ones, two First Ministers ago but there’s no sign of any of them appearing any time soon, although the ones not being built on the Clyde are due to arrive from Turkey soon.

So a huge thanks to everyone who worked so hard to create the Sandstone Way across private land. I really appreciated the remoter off road sections and doffed my helmet to you, at the top of the Wether Hill track, in the north easterly gale-driven rain!