After an unusually long spell of mild weather this week we were reminded that winter is well & truly upon us. We had our first snowfall down here in the south east of Scotland & freezing temperatures although the snow showers were frequent it didn't settle, but up in the hills it did so I wanted to have my first snow cycle of the year & head for the foothills of the Lammermuirs.
Rather than pedal along roads I opted to cycle out of the village through the Innerwick farm & up past the run down ruins of Braidwood.
Braidwood was abandoned in the 1980's due to the construction of Torness power station & as you can see the electricity pylons overhead deemed it an unsuitable place to reside.
The farm tracks were frozen solid & the puddles had thick ice over them so at least today I should return home not too muddy...
...Coming across an old bath tub in a random place in the middle of nowhere half full of water covered with ice, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to have a therapeutic ice bath with a wonderful views all around :-)
After my therapeutic soak it was onwards I go along the bottom of Blackcastle hill which was freezing cold as the freezing cold air seemed to be static in the air.
I find it almost heartbreaking cycling along here now at Aikengall or Aiken-destroyed as it now is with all the destruction creating access roads for the Aikengall II wind farm project, but I did manage to rise a smile on my face when I saw the cows were safely behind bars for the winter.
Starting to climb up the hill to Aikengall wind farm it felt much more exposed & colder, evident with the snow on the ground.
Looking over towards the far away Wester Dod hill I spotted diggers working away, so I'm guessing that's where the wind turbines are going to go destroying yet more hill top scenery ! But on the plus side it creates more cycling routes :-/
Ice tyres required.
Stopping in my tracks...cows in my way !!! Spotted more sheltering in the woods I made an evasive maneuvers clambering over fences traipsing through heather & bracken covered snow until I was safe to get back on track.
Safely out the way of the cows I got onto the 'find of the summer' pathway that I found, but it was a lot harder cycling up it rather than bombing down it.
Very bleak up on top of the hills & the icy wind was cutting right through me, but looking back over towards the wind turbines I spotted another track that I will need to explore one day. I didn't know that one was there, but the snow covering the path it stood out like a sore thumb.
The road I reckon would be impassable to cars, covered in thick ice & a huge steep hill down to Elmscleugh I wouldn't fancy driving down it. For me I took to the right of the road through the field gate headed towards Bransly hill.
Hard going attempting to cycle up here too as the weight of me on the bike was breaking through the crusted snow, but slow & steady wins the race.
Bransly Hill trig point...Bagged !
Spartleton Hill where I camped out during the summer, wouldn't fancy camping up there just now though but I will need to go back up again soon to bag the trig up there too.
Brilliant snowy views all around but need to get off this exposed hill it was freezing cold I couldn't feel my fingers.
If I hang about up here much longer I'll end up like this unlucky sheep.
A row of mole hills.
Making my way off the hill continuing forward for the Crystal rig wind farm & pylon road I explored this old ruined cottage at Branslyshiel which I've seen many times but never ventured over to have a nose around.
I was very curious as to what this stone represented, it looked like it was a grave stone but it had no writing on it other than the bench mark on one of it's sides & if it was a grave stone it was sited in a very strange location inside a ruined shepherds cottage :-/
The cottage owners must of been of a hardy breed it must of been awful living here in bad weather conditions, very exposed, no double glazing, no central heating & worst of all no TV !
On the outside of the building was a carved stone inscribed 'Menace 1991-1999' & I'm assuming that it must be a grave of the present landowners sheep dog ?
Getting onto the wind turbine & pylon maintenance road which was also covered in thick ice.
Heading downhill there was no way I would have stayed upright on my bike if I rode on the road so I decided to cycle down the field beside the road.
Passing my old house at Weatherly it was nice to be off the hill where it was still cold but at least there was no icy wind down here.
When I lived up here we were once snowed in for eight days it was great, huge drifts filled up the road & even though I had a Land Rover there was no way out the snow was so deep. We had great family fun making snow caves, sledging & snow ball fights, even our old dog loved it.
A big field of turnips for winter livestock feed & for whatever reason two different types of turnips.
Coming off the Weatherly hill road & before entering into Woodhall farm where I caught the attention of the locals, but fortunately for me they were not in the chasing mood ! So after a cold but enjoyable first snow ride of the year I head back home for a nice hot coffee.
Until the next ride cheers for now.