Given the following set of circumstances, what would you do?
a) One business trip to edinburgh by car
b) A lovely summer's night in the borders
c) a city full of fringe tourists
d) one unchipped, slightly loose at the seems, A3 1.8TQ desperately in need of a wash
e) A rare chance to escape the usual family responsibilities
Well...If like me your a keen reader of EVO, then it would seem rude not to take advantage of the ridiculously unpopulated, light trafficked roads that make up the Scottish Borders on a nice dry cool summer evening...and give the car an accelerated life-cycle test of its capabilities in 2 hours!
If you know your roads, particularly the threads that often come up about the best drivers roads in the UK obviously Wales and Scotland have a completely unfair advantage. My favourite, and still i've yet to find something that beats it is Gods own road...the A701 from Moffat to Leadburn. Well i decided to find my own "EVO triangle" equivalent for the borders and heres my choice for further EVO devotees
Journey to the start point
Edinburgh bypass (a720) around to A7
A7 south past Gorebridge to Middleton
Nows the good bit
Turn right on to B7007 which goes up around the Moorfoot hills this then turns into the B709 and for the next 15 miles enjoy.....the initial tarmac in Lothian is a joy..once into the borders it gets a bit more ravaged and
tight but sightlines are excellent...watch out for the sheep and the occasional golfer!(you drive across a golf course!!)
Continue through Innerleithen and enjoy another 9 miles of stunning scenary , zero traffic and generally full on racing lines are an option....with the odd cattle grid thrown in
When you get to Mountbenger take a right on to the A708 moffat road and sample the ribbon of 20 miles of switchback, undulating, yumps, bumps, loch side blastery and some spectacular scenary this side of anywhere...with the occasional dutch/french campervan thrown in for overtaking practice. However ...choose your overtake point with care...sightlines aren't always the best on this bit.....(must remember that for he future...)
When you make moffat, breath deeply, relax, trundle through the 30 zone, and then take a right on to the A701...
Now the A708 and B709...while testing all your senses, they dont present the same smoothness of tarmac that the A701 presents. the sightlines are generally excellent and with a few runs along this road you can soon learn the correct places to challenge yourself and overtake zones in the rare circumstance you need it. For 39 miles, this road just eggs you on to test you and your car to which level of 10/10ths that you feel comfortable with...for me...last night...8/10ths was my limit...mainly out of self preservation and mechanical sympathy to the car.
This road does allow you to flow at real speed and since its surface is well maintained and a proper two laner...there's real raceline opportunities just do it with sense. Using the 3rd/4th and 5th gears to full range extent you can cover this section at speeds up to 100mph if thats your bag...but for me, the challenge exists at other levels than just speed...for example just getting correct gear use and selection, correct steering setup and input into bends makes this drive a joy.
After 39 miles you end up in leadburn and take a left and have one more brief blast into the outskirts of pencuik, before you pick up the A720 edinburgh bypass once more. Let your head unscramble as you trundle back to your hotel with in my case a set of front ARB bushes that i've probably degraded by another 50% and advanced my mod plans by several months...but hey the car sood up to its abuse well...its now on relaxed duty until i can get it into Awesome to sort out its suspension and then i'll be back to give this triangle another go.
You all owe it to yourselves to wangle a trip to edinburgh/scotland in general and extend you and your cars on roads like these.