Travel Tuesday: Freedom to Roam in Scotland
Freedom to roam has a very different meaning in Scotland than it does in the United States. In Scotland you can walk, mountain bike or ride a horse on any and all land — public or private, as long as you do so without damaging it. This is meaningful because it means, if you know where to go, there are trails and routes “up there in them hills.”
So, naturally, we got off the marked trails and with the help of our new friends (an amazing community of Scots who have lived in the Borders Region for their entire lives) we were treated to some spectacular riding — unmarked, undocumented and completely legal.
Now this was mountain biking! Long climbs up the fells (mountains) offered expansive views of the Tweed River Valley that made me think of picture post-cards. Steep descents on single-track not much wider than our tires led to forest trails with roots and moss and pine duff.
After three hours of riding, we arrived back in the town of Selkirk, climbed up a short but very steep cobbled brae (steep hill) and were welcomed into an after-ride party — complete with carrot-lentil soup, breads, cheeses, meat pies and of course cakes and welcoming company. As the sun began to set, we said our goodbyes and were invited to return the following day for a night ride. I think we just might have to take them up on the offer.
Serena Bishop Gordon and her husband Ben Gordon mountain biked their way through Scotland this month and agreed to take us along for the ride. While cycling fuels Serena’s soul, in addition to racing bikes, she spends the rest of her time advocating for wild places with The Conservation Alliance.
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