Thursday, 2 October 2014

A Pedal & Paddle

With the long spell of fair warm bright sunny weather about to end & the more autumnal unsettled strong winds, rain & colder weather about to come our way, I had to make a mid week day off was put to good use, so an easy decision out on the bike it was.

 A familiar sight of the seasonal change, leaves falling from the tree's & ploughed, sowed fields.

Conkers everywhere at the moment, an age old playground game but last year we found a better use for them, I read an article that if you have conkers placed by your windows in your house spiders will not come into your house, now living in the country that is a big problem for us after the harvest time. Me & all but one of my youngest are terrified of the 8 legged arachnids & it's normally her job to get rid of them while the rest of us hide as far away as possible, but we tried the conkers on the window sills last year & it really did work ! Apparently the conkers give off some chemical that spiders hate so they will steer clear.

 From Starvation Brae looking over Dunbar & it's a normal sight seeing ships pass back & forward along the Firth Of Forth & occasionally they anchor up waiting to get into the docks further up the Forth, but unusually there were 4 of them anchored for the last few days.
'British Cormorant' -  U.K.
'Thetagas' - Antigua Barbuda
'Alpha Britannia' - Bahamas
At the time of writing the fourth ship had up-anchored & set sail so I don't know what it was called or where it was from :-/

A great vantage point from here, great views on clear days, but better still a big hill to bomb down to the village of Spott below.

 The hedgerows are full berries great to keep the wee birds going through the winter.

On towards the Meiklerig woods as there was a Geocache there that I couldn't find a while back so this time I was determined to find it.

 Interesting woods here at Meiklerig as half is planted with soft wood pines & the other half is full of giant beech & other hardwood tree's & it's weird as one stops the other starts but they are like two completely different places as the wildlife from the birds to the plants totally changes within the two enviroments.

After a bit of searching back, forward, up, down, over & under I eventually found the final Geocache of the set, it wasn't easy as the GPS was all over the place & wouldn't settle due to the thick tree cover above but I was well chuffed that I found it.

 So now into the beech woods & as you can see the above tree has had it's day & is now covered in bracket fungus a sure sign that this huge giant probably 200 to 300 years old is about to expire.
 This younger beech has split down the middle but is still thriving as both halves were in full leaf & healthy, nature always finds a way.

Out of the woods at Meiklerig farm to hear the honking of geese high up above.

Into the grounds of Biel estate as I wanted to have another look around the old estate pigeon doocot.

 Within the left hand half of the doocot is the remains of the 'Potence' ladder for collecting eggs & birds. A potence is a central pole with arms, slotted into a beam above & plinth below, it supports one or two ladders & is revolved by the user kicking against the wall. 

From here I have to apologise for the quality of the pictures as my camera battery packed in so I had to use my mobile phone to take pictures, unknown to me at the time there was condensation on the camera lens resulting in a cloudy appearance :-/

 I think it is really sad that these cleverly designed works of masonry art are allowed to decay like this, these are the remnants of the great powerful & lavish estate days where they were an important part of the estate life, the pigeon dung that fell to the floor was used to fertilise the fields & for tanning leather while the nest boxes provided eggs & pigeon meat throughout the cold winter months.
There are so many of them around the area with only a handful that have been looked after & renovated to their former glory.  Soon many of them will decay to the point where they have to be demolished for safety reasons, a real shame. 
I do intend to do a post about all the doocots that are local to me but I will do it during the winter months when there is less foliage hiding some of them.
 From the doocot I wanted to head over to Belton along the route where my friends & I once fished for brown trout in the Biel burn, thinking this route would be stinging nettle free & just long grass...How wrong was I !

 I normally have a high tolerance for nettle stings, but there was no clear passage through them & I was stung to bits so I chose the alternative route & that was to get the bike on the shoulders & wade along the burn itself !

Glad to have the cool water relieving the nettle stings I came across the remains of a forgotten old bridge once part of the estate & if I wasn't wading knee deep along the burn I would never of saw this old bridge.
 A flash back in time, that rock was my favourite fishing spot to sit on as it had a deep run of water below it where the trout used to lie & it was good to see a good couple of dozen decent sized brown trout still sitting below. It looks very different to how I remember as there are tree's now growing around the area & the fields along here all had cattle in them, this is not the case now though as it's very over run with nettles & hogweed
 The first of three of these swing gates to negotiate, designed to keep livestock within the field & not escape along the burn.

 Plodding along I eventually found a game trail that I could follow...
...and eventually get back on the saddle again. 

 The remains of Dairy cottage in the grounds of the former Belton estate, I remember when someone lived here, feeling old !!!
 A Chicken of the woods fungus & edible.

 Exhausted with wading a good half mile through the Biel burn I opted to cycle along the edge of the A1, a track I don't normally use with all the heavy traffic noise but I was feeling the hunger knock & wanted to get back home for a sugar fix.

Leaving the noisy roadside track I headed uphill again towards Spott & then skirted along the bottom of Doonhill & though the farms of Little Pinkerton, Meikle Pinkerton & finally Easter Pinkerton & from there it was a short distance from home where a very sugary coffee & some chocolate biscuits awaits.

Anyway that's that for anoter day I hope you enjoyed the trail, thanks for looking.h