Distance: 20 miles
Ascent: 2230 feet
Summary: A short but extremely hilly loop, otherwise known as the ‘Blainslie Hills of Doom’ (ok, I made that up, but that’s what I call it at any rate!)
Strava Route Link
If you can, it’s good to get a bit of a warm up in before starting this loop, because right out of the gate you’re gonna be going anaerobic. From the crossroads, head up towards the town hall, and take the left fork. You immediately hit the 15% climb to Lauder Common, which has a very steep pitch at the bottom. Climb to the summit, traverse the Common and then enjoy a long, fast descent down to Lauder. Watch out for zombie sheep that have a tendency to wander out in front of you as you descend.
In Lauder, turn right onto the A68 and cycle right through Lauder and past the turn off for Thirlestane Castle. Just beyond the town limits there’s a turn off to the right for Blainslie – take this. You now have the remainder of the ride to enjoy on quiet back roads. The road rolls up and down for about 5 miles. Half way down a fast descent, there is a sharp right turn-off you need to take. It also has a very steep pitch right at the turn off, so be prepared to hit bottom gear and give it some wellie. From this point on, the route will now be largely uphill, punctuated only by a couple of fast descents that are over before you know it, leaving the impression that you are climbing all the time.
Grind up the hill until eventually you pass Mosshouses farm, where you get the first of the two remaining big descents. There’s a very sharp left hand bend half way down that you need to slow down for. At the bottom of the hill you reach a T junction, where you turn right. Once again you are now steadily climbing, for about a mile and a half until the turn off for Wooplaw and Stow. Hang a left here, and then you climb through Wooplaw woods and up to the farm beyond. You’ll see the windmills spinning ahead of you. Once more a very short descent followed by a sharp right, and then it’s the last steep climb up to the wind farm. This has a couple of steep kickers that will have you in bottom gear.
When you eventually reach the top right next to the windmills, you get the last descent back down into Stow. This is very steep and requires judicious use of the brakes. There are some terrible potholes half way down – be careful. There’s also a right angled bend at the Stow limits so keep the speed down. You then descend through Stow back to the crossroads.
20 miles – but it feels a lot more as you have an average of 100 feet ascent per mile which is pretty hilly. If you want a real challenge, tack this loop onto the end of a longer route for a bit of a sting in the tail.