round Britain by bike

Leg 12 | Arbroath to Elgin | May 2009

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More than a year after Steve and I reluctantly curtailed our last journey leg in the driving rain at Arbroath, we're finally heading back.

And this time it's going to be a leg with a difference, as we are joined for the first time by an additional traveller, our old buddy James (aka Orange), whose previous cycling exploits famously include breaking the 50mph barrier on the Wrynose Pass and living to tell the tale.

This was also the leg where we came to understand the importance of booking long-distance train cycle reservations very far in advance. Although our previous experience at Edinburgh should have been a prescient warning, I nevertheless found myself facing the very real possibility that we wouldn't be able to get to Scotland after all when attempting to secure cycle reservations for three, a matter of weeks before our departure date.

Come the day, I was banking on a combination of speculative reservations to somehow pull us through and deliver us all to Arbroath (albeit on separate trains), and our departure from sunny Stevenage station was a jolly affair. Boarding the train, James immediately became our favourite cycling friend by dint of producing a coolbag full of picnic fare, kindly prepared by his ever-devoted wife Fiona.

Things became a little trickier as we approached Edinburgh Waverley – the picnic was long gone, and we now needed to change trains and hope that my reservation shenanigans were going to work out in our favour.

As Steve and James disappeared off to catch their safely-booked local train to Arbroath, my own fate was in the hands of the guards on the InterCity which technically I should have boarded back at Peterborough... fortunately they were in a good mood and allowed my bike into their sacred guard's van, and I was thus able to speed northwards from the Scottish capital, beating the other boys to Arbroath by a clear half-hour.

Go to Day 1 (Arbroath to Johnshaven)