Wondrous - Fragrant - Immersive : Forest of Eggesford. Planted just after the end of WW1.. and now 100 years old. In 1956 our young Queen Elizabeth honoured the efforts of 1 million trees planted of which this was the first plantation in Dec 1919. .
Having been unable to find out much about the Romans & Reivers long distance route from a cyclist's perspective, I set out to explore the part of it that runs through Craik Forest myself. So for anyone who's interested, here's how it went... At first the forest tracks were good as I cycled up into the low cloud, but after a few miles they began to be peppered with spruce seedlings. Worse, a bit further on the seedlings had been mown but they'd been allowed to get a bit too big before the job was done, leaving behind sturdy little stumps a few inches high (pic 2). Bouncing from stump to stump was like cycling in a pinball machine! The route is signposted as a horse riding route but I can't imagine horses would be too keen on that underfoot.
The track then deteriorated into a grassy path; I was resigned to a long push through tufty grass but a chance glance to my right showed the path leading off downhill. Low hanging tree branches had obscured the turn-off.
There was a short section of singletrack, after which it reverted to a well-made double track (pic 3). The only problem was that the trees grow too close to the track, so after getting soaked from brushing against wet vegetation and fed up of constantly ducking or switching sides to avoid branches, I ended up cycling down the slightly overgrown centre section instead. Finally it returned to normal forest track until I popped out onto the Eskdalemuir road, close to the Samye Ling.
I am a slow rider, my knees are not great and I was on my tourer, but even for me it was spectacularly slow going - 1hr 45mins of riding time to go just over 9 miles! 😮 It was probably more of a mountain bike route than a touring bike one to be fair, although the Trucker did cope well. Fortunately the road section that followed was quicker, and a welcome break after the rough tracks. I took a right and cycled round to Redfordgreen, where I followed good forest tracks past a couple of small lochs and a water-filled quarry back to Craik.