Friday, 14 November 2014

Blown Out In The Pentland's.

I fancied a day out cycling within the Pentland hills regional park on the outskirts of Edinburgh, putting in some mileage around the park via the reservoirs of Glencorse, Harlaw & Threipmuir & then giving the legs & lungs a real workout climbing & decending the lofty peaks of West Kip, East Kip, Scald Law, Carnethy Hill & finally Turnhouse Hill ending up back at the car park where I started. 
With strong winds forecast for the late morning I wanted to get going early so I packed up my gear the night before & all I had to do in the morning was put my bike on the car ready for the off.

 Bike off the car & raring to go, I set off on my way with just a gentle wind behind me.

 Passing by the Glencorse trout fishery which I have not yet fished.

 From here the off-road begins & the trail at some places was very muddy & water logged.
The hills from the far right of the picture to the left are the afore mentioned hills that I planned for my return route. I've never been to the top of them before so was looking forward to getting up there for their 360 degree views.

 Stopping for a breather after a long slow climb the blood not quite up to temperature yet, it was a welcome break to look for a nearby geocache which was soon in hand & that's another one logged.

Ready to go again it was a really fast descent down between Bell's Hill & Harbour Hill towards Harlaw reservoir.

Harlaw reservoir built between 1843 & 1848 supplying water to Edinburgh..
A fishery owners nightmare, cormorant's come inland to feed at this time of year away from the stormy coast & fisheries are like a fast food restaurant for them. I once witnessed a cormorant at Markle trout fishery enter the water & in less than 30 seconds emerged with a trout weighing around the 2lb mark which it then swallowed whole in one big gulp !

 Reservoir draw-off bridge's.

The overflow & spillway.

 And just a stones throw away is Threipmuir reservoir again built between 1843 & 1848 & supplies water to Edinburgh.
 The wind by this time was getting very strong with big gusts making the pedals slower to turn as I turned to cycle head on into it & at this point I was starting to wonder if I was going to be able to get the chance to cycle up onto the high ridges which I had planned !

It would of been good for wind surfing today plenty of wind lanes on the water.

 Relieved to have turned a corner out of the head-on gusty wind with a bit of protection of the bushes & tree's as I had a long climb up hill in front of me.

A long road that lies ahead.

 Oyster mushrooms growing on the beech tree & Chanterelle mushrooms growing at the base of the beech tree's, both edible.

Plenty of warning & path route signs around the park.

From here it was back into the open & baron landscape with the wind again head on & after a few hundred yards I made my mind up that I would give the high lofty peaks a miss today & do them on a less windy day, not only that there were a few spots of rain & the cloud had thickened up, so the all around views would have been very poor...but...
 ...I wanted to go a little further before turning back as there was something that I wanted to check out first, so it was bike over the shoulders time & a climb up through the heather & bog to almost the summit of Hare Hill... find some of the wreckage & a memorial to 4 German luftwaffe airmen who crashed at this site on 25/March/1943.
The crew were flying on board a Junkers JU88A-14 bomber registration mark 3E+HM from the unit Luftwaffe 4 Staffel / Kampgeschwader 6. 

Their mission to bomb Leith docks on the Firth of Forth & disrupt the traffic through this busy port.

The mission was believed to have begun it's flight from an airfield near Paris (possibly Greve) after which it had proceeded to Deelen (Arnhem, Holland) to be armed & re-fuelled. It would then have flown NE up the Dutch coast until turning in a NW direction across the North Sea & direct for the Firth of Forth for it's bombing run. Unable to locate their target, the crew decided to jettison their bombs over farmland before returning to base.

The pilot Oberleutnant Fritz Forster headed back towards his operating base. However as he was flying across the Pentland Hills south of Edinburgh, his aircraft failed to clear Hare Hill halfway across the Pentlands. As a result the Junkers crashed killing all on board.

The wreckage of the aircraft was scattered over half a mile. It is believed that this JU88 was not brought down by machine gun or anti-aircraft fire. 

You can clearly imagine how the plane crashed as where the above three pictures are taken at the crash site looking out over to Edinburgh & the Firth of Forth beyond, the terrain is fairly flat but then gradually increasing until it reaches the Pentlands which just raise rapidly all of a sudden & a night time raid at low level there would have been no chance of seeing the hills in front.
Nice to see that the 4 airmen have not been forgotten through time with the remembrance wreath & poppies. 

Pilot Fritz Forster & his Junkers JU88 3E+HM.

 The only reason I knew of this crash site was down to a geocache named Junkers88 & was located near by the memorial, otherwise I would never have known about it, and that's one of the reasons why I enjoy geocaching so much as it takes you to new interesting places & historical sites.
I found the geocache after tracing the co-ordinates, signed the log book, admired the view in a now howling gale then got back on the saddle.
Taking a short cut following the shepherds quad bike tracks onto an alternative trail seen cutting around the hill in front.

 Thinking that taking this route instead of my planned route I would get a nice pedal back to my wrong was I ! The ever increasing wind just seemed to knock me about from every direction & right in my face what ever way I turned, oh the joys.

Stopping for a bite to eat & drink, it was nice just to watch the nature around me as I observed a dipper bird feeding in the burn working it's way upstream.

 The Logan burn meandering it's way towards Loganlea reservoir.
 Interesting rock formations as the rocks in front are all vertical, indicating that at some point they have been turned 45 degrees most probably when the Pentland Hills were formed. 

Boats out of Loganlea reservoir for the fisheries winter closed season. 
No number 4 ?

The wind seemed very strong as it howled up the valley but worth the effort for these views.
 There must be hundreds of the fly fisherman's flies tangled along the phone wire. The phone wire travels the full length of the roadside shore of the reservoir & this is the only side fishable from the bank. So for that reason & the amount of people that walk, run & cycle along this road during the busy summer months I always opt for a boat so that I can concentrate on the fishing rather than the obstructions.

 The peaks of all the hills of which I intended to cycle up & over on my return route, but today I was beaten by the wind :-( however I will conquer them in calmer weather & on a bright clear day for better views. 

That'll be boat number 4 then.

Loganlea is my most favourite of favourite trout fisheries, I've always had great success fishing here, I've never blanked & always went home with nice plump rainbow trout. 

Hard to imagine that Edinburgh is only a 10 minute drive away with views like this & in the summer it's a recreational super highway for walkers, runners, fisherman & mountain bikers, but today it was only me & an old guy sitting on the wall smoking a cigarette !"
Loganlea overspill, how good would this be in winter when it's frozen !!!

 Onwards back to the car & to get out of the wind.

While cycling along the road I disturbed this majestic grey heron which was wading in the burn but it kindly landed just up hill a bit so I could take a couple of photo's of it.

Castlelaw Hill up ahead & what amazing views that farm house must have.

Back to nearly the start passing again by the Glencorse reservoir fishery...
...with more greedy cormorants depleting the trout stocking levels !

Might give this fishery a shot next season but it will be hard to beat Loganlea although the scenery is every bit as good.

Back to the car, packed & homeward we go.

I need to come back here more often as it's only a half hour drive for me & the cycling potential is awesome & I need to get up those hills for the excellent views.

Thanks for joining me for the ride come back soon :-)