It often seems like a creative life is synonymous with a city life. In the city you are close to the action, connected and ready to respond to a world that is seemingly always on. This in turn leads to creatives tending to resist unplugging: your mind encourages you to churn out more ideas, your hands ache to make something new, your computer calls out for you to type on it just a little more and your camera wants one last photo…
If that sounds even remotely familiar, then it’s good to remind yourself regularly to take some creative breaks and explore. Therefore, a city that allows you to benefit from the bustle, but is within throwing distance (or perhaps rowing distance) from forests, mountains and beaches, is in my eyes a pretty perfect combination. It is one of the reasons that I enjoy living in Dundee, as I think it fits this description pretty well.
A great way to explore beyond the city boundaries is by bike and I would like to share a simple route, that should be possible for all creative Dundonians to explore. As in addition to cycling being good for you physically, I think it also helps to boost creative thinking, as it allows you to focus on new details in your environment, whilst also allowing your mind to wander. This route is almost all on cycle paths or off-road tracks – so it doesn’t matter how much or little you cycle – you can go at your own speed.
Start by preparing a small picnic and packing a bottle of water. Invite your friends and family to join you, or go it alone. The first option is often more fun, whereas the latter gives you more time to think. It’s your choice.
Once you have dusted down the bike and pumped up the tyres simply head towards the Tay Bridge. Take the elevator up to the separated central bike lane, where you can safely let the cars zoom past you on either side. If you are the competitive type, you can try to race them… It might help you push up and over the bridge. However, they are definitely at an advantage and rather than focusing on racing a specific car, perhaps you could compete with the overall speeding mass!
Reaching the other side turn left towards Tayport and roll your way down towards the cycle path. There is a slight decline most of the way until Tayport, enjoy it and the views to your left where the fields roll down to the water. There are many places to stop along this route to look back at Dundee and Broughty Ferry. You will be amazed at how quickly you managed to be seemingly so far away from the city you live in. It may even help you to gain perspective on projects you are working on.
As you leave the cycle path, push up the short, sharp incline before enjoying the subsequent downhill into Tayport. You quickly find yourself at a delightful little harbour and it is worth taking a moment to pick out your favourite boat. My current favourite is the small yellow one sitting proudly in the middle of the harbour, it has a simple name – s’mine – and it adds a sunny ray of colour to blue water below.
Next stay on the road next to the coast and head through the caravan park. It is your choice to bounce over the speed bumps or work your way around the edges.
Soon after this you arrive at the edge of Tentsmuir Forest. Follow the path as it first heads towards a small patch of beach, then take the curve round to the right into the forest. Once you leave the view of the water behind and are fully surrounded by trees you suddenly feel pretty alone, but it is quite invigorating. You can ride as slow or as fast as you like. You can look forwards, left, right or even up at the sky as your wheels bump along the forest tracks. It is right around this point that I often let my mind wander a little too much and occasionally get a quick jolt back to reality, in the form of a small rock that has taken upon itself to obstruct my tracks!
Once you are quite far into the forest, you will pass piles of logs neatly stacked upon each other. These logs create exciting new forms within the landscape and call out for photographs to be taken of them. They make you think of the people who worked hard to chop them down and stack them so regimentally in this way. Ultimately, they create a new dimension within the forest, as if someone had built a wall in some random space within the city.
Then as the forest begins to clear and you find yourself at the play park you are almost at the main entrance to the beach. Choose a tree that you like the look of and that you think your bike would like to relax next to, then let them get acquainted whilst you make your way towards the beach. Climb over the sand dunes, kick your shoes off and take a stroll along the sands. If you are feeling brave, you could even dip your toes in the water. Those who are even braver could dip even further into the sea for a swim.
From here on you are free to do as you please, although of course you need to leave a little energy for going home again.
Getting to this beach by bike is possible in less than an hour from Dundee. Most of ride is part of Route 1 on the National Cycle Network, so you could look up a more detailed map if you like. If you don’t already have a bike… then perhaps you could borrow one from a friend or hire one from Spokes for your first adventure.
I hope you enjoy this route as much as I do and I hope you manage to let your creative mind wander a little.