Thursday, 11 September 2014

Rewarded For A Retreat.

My plan for this cycle was to climb up into the Lammermuir Hills then follow some farm field tracks over to the electricity pylon / wind turbine road, then over the Dunbar Common before descending down over the Lothian Edge & a return route along the foot of the Lammermuirs back home to Innerwick, but a quick change of plan was required as my friends 'the cows' had other ideas & were starting to surround me ! So with no where to be safely out of their way I had to bite the bullet & admit defeat for this route & about turn the way I came, but I'm glad I did & soon you will find out why :-) 
Let's go for a pedal up the hills...

 With my belly full of poached eggs & toast it was an uphill battle from the off uphill towards the farm of Elmscleugh, where I spotted this Latin motto above one of the farm buildings & translates to 'For King & The People'. That's what I like about being out & about on the bike I've been past this farm hundreds of times yet I have never noticed this before.

Stopping for a well earned drink & to catch my breath, a little further uphill to go & the views are worth the climb.

 Off road now & following the field track always vigilant & looking out for my bovine friends. 

The Aikengall II project, more of these hideous monstrosities spoiling the landscape ! As you can see by the size of diggers at the bottom they give a good scale of the size of these turbines 

I've saw a lot of fungi over the last week so it's safe to say it's now the fungi season, which I thought was a little early but apparently not.

 Reaching the trig point at the top of Bransly Hill the views overlooking the lowlands & the Firth of Forth are amazing, but with fresh cow pats around the trig I knew the cows were not too far away, and within a few minutes there they were.

Quickly grabbing a few more pictures the coo's were getting a bit close for comfort so it was time to high tail it back over the fence & continue along the boggy grass along the fence line only to come across more cows on this side of the fence a bit further inland, fortunately they hadn't noticed me yet but the cows from the field I was just in were still advancing on me from the other side of the fence, so I surveyed my options & thought that it was a bit dodgy to continue forward with no where to get away from them on either side so I decided to about turn & head off in another way.

 Stopping for a bite to eat & to weigh up my options deciding where am I going to go now I remembered that I once spotted a wooden bridge at the top of the Sheeppath glen, so with my nose getting the better of me I hurled myself & bike over another fence & set off to find it, if there's a bridge there must be a path of some sort.

'Reward number 1'
And to my delight I soon found it, a well constructed bridge it is too & also finding a very well cared for pathway throughout the heather which I assume is to make for easier walking for the grouse shooting which started in August.

What an amazing find this was, brilliant free running grass track which was brilliant to bomb down stopping for the odd photo here & there.

This was a real treasure to find on my doorstep & I for sure will make this a regular haunt to burn a few calories.

The track ended just short of the wind turbine substation & from here I thought I would nip over & down to the Fairy Glen for a look around.

A giant puffball fungi matured to the point that it was ready to spread it's spores, as you can see when I stood on it the brown smoke is the spores being released.

From the top looking down where a roe deer was grazing.

The Fairy Glen has an amazing history behind it. Laurentia, the continent of which Scotland was part of lay in the southern tropics. The mountains that had built up were being worn down, the lowlands were an arid desert, like the Sahara today, there was no vegetation cover & flash floods caused rapid erosion, the result was coarse gravels of rounded boulders, cobbles & pebbles which turned into rock called conglomerate. The red colour is typical of rocks formed in deserts. The Fairy Glen has the 'badlands' topography displaying the conglomerate rock almost in the way that it was originally formed. This is an explanation why the soil of East Lothian is so red & so fertile, paying testimony to it's desert past.

 Further down the glen is this 'dyke'. A dyke is a thin slab of vertical igneous rock normally only a metre or two, when the surrounding strata were stretched by earth movements, molten rock flowed into the cracks that these upheavals created, the heat of the molten rock baked the strata on either side of the dyke making it harder than normal.

 So after adventuring down in the glen where the Burn Hope that runs through the glen was completely bone dry & clambering back up the hill back to my bike. You can see a zoomed in photo of the dyke down below.
A crazy looking spikey orb of a mushroom.

'Reward number 2'
Cycling across the moorland pathway back towards the wind turbine road I spotted this beautiful adder by a wooden walkway over a bog, so I had to stop for a look & luckily he sat there long enough for me to grab a photo of him, although he was not happy at my presence puffing himself up & hissing at me, so I took a few steps back then he moved half way under the wooden walkway so I gently held his tail lifting him up a bit when he hissed again & that was enough of a warning for me to let go as adders are venomous  not deadly but enough to put you in a lot of pain.
This was very special to me as I'm always looking out for adders when I'm out & about as they are really popular around this area, but unlucky for me I have never seen one alive only saw a dead one, so as a snake keeper myself this was an amazing find for me, well chuffed :-)

On the home straight now all down hill from here.

On a down note it was very disappointing to come across these trees that have been felled at Aikengall, these mature trees were part of a real beauty spot & this was a favourite overnight camping spot for the wife, kids & friends a real popular place for locals too, but now it seems yet more damage scarring our beautiful landscape in the name of 'green energy' !!!

So that's another tour over for today, so my eternal battle with fear of cows turned out to be a blessing today with the finding of a brilliant high speed trail & spotting my first live adder, a great day was had, the route that I wanted to do in the first place will still be there for another day when the frosts & cold come & all the coo's are in their sheds for the winter months I'll go for it then.

Thanks for reading, until the next adventure cheerio for now.