Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Coastal Heritage Paths Of Coldingham & St. Abbs

After my last adventure up to Blackcastle last week I looked over towards the hills of Coldingham Moor & thought to myself that I need to have a ride around there soon with the dramatic steep cliffs & big steep hills creating some sublime views out to sea & along the rocky shore. 
So with the wife & kids all away Irish dancing I was left on my own with the easy decision to put the bike rack on the car & head for the Coldingham Moors to ride some of the old heritage roads from yesteryear...

Arriving in the village of Coldingham I parked the car up & got my gear together before checking my route on the map before setting off the way I came back up the hill where an old heritage road called 'The Moss Road' begins.

I started cycling along the old road which is still fairly visible with a slight embankment on either side of the road & hoping that the whole trip wouldn't be as hard as this as the grass was waterlogged making for a difficult ride.

'The Moss Road' goes to Dowlaw quarry a bit further along the moor but I had planned a route incorporating just part of this road & then a loop around back to Coldingham along the cliff top trail of the Berwickshire Coastal Path, kind of glad in a way as the ground conditions were not the greatest.

Coming off the field, the path took me through these really creepy beech woods with their contorted & straggly limbs.
 Anyone with a pet pig should come down here to forage for truffles! 
Truffles are formed by fungi that partners certain types of trees, beech trees being one of those species of tree.

Emerging from the beech woods I ended up on a single track road for a short distance before arriving at Lumsdaine farm where I then passed up & over Oatlee Hill full of new born lambs & their mothers, a bit further on the Berwickshire Coastal Path was just in front of me with amazing views all around which even looked good in the drizzly rain.

Following the Berwick Coastal Path up & down hills along sheep tracks stopping from time to time admiring the forever changing cliff scenery. 

A super dooper fast downhill ride down the Westerside Dean dodging clumps of grass which often hide big stones, crossing over the Moor Burn dropping vertically downwards over the cliff creating a big waterfall, then a massive steep hill to climb at the other side which you can see by how vertical the fence posts are in the above photo how steep it is.

After the calf stretching climb up to the top of Tun Law catching my breath, it was more downhill action. The coast along here is a real roller coaster ride loads of fast steep downhills & loads of lung bursting climbs.

Taking my time & trying not to scare the sheep as it's a straight drop downwards for them if I caused them to panic & run off the edge of the cliff !
Always time for a geocache when I'm out & about  on the bike & I had to scramble down a big hill near the shore to retrieve this one.

Onwards & upwards as I enter St. Abbs Head nature reserve, formed by volcanic eruptions the reserve is famous for it's rich & varied bird population nesting on the 90 metre high cliffs, a bird watchers paradise.

Climbing up the road towards the lighthouse with Mire Loch on the right.

Arriving at the lighthouse keepers cottages of St. Abbs Head with the lighthouse & fog horn nestled down below on the cliffs.
The lighthouse began service in 1872 & the light was converted from oil to incandescent power in 1906 then finally automated in 1993. 
...and west information panels with historical & natural interesting facts about the area. 

On the top of the information panels is a toposcope, but best of all are the wonders of the 360 degree views.

The other side of the lighthouse & looking along the eastern cliffs.
Down on the shore before another climb up & over Bell Hill where I spotted that someone must of had a lot of time on their hands to build this little pebble wall, It must of took ages balancing all these pebbles on top of each other, there's no way that I'd have the patience to even attempt it!

From the top of Bell Hill I stopped for a wee look back with the Mire Loch nearly out of view now & in front of me is St.Abbs village with it's picturesque harbour.

Out of St.Abbs Head nature reserve now & heading into St.Abbs village.
St.Abbs harbour, I decided not to go down to the harbour for a scout about as the persistent rain was doing my head in now, so it's another excuse ( Not that an excuse is needed ! ) to come back down, the harbour was fairly quiet today anyway, it's usually busy with people, from the local fishermen, tourists, sea anglers, bird watchers & divers, St.Abbs is a diving hotspot.

Leaving the village behind me I cycled up another old heritage path called the 'Creel Road' where there were a flock of yellow hammer birds pecking in the freshly sewn field.
 St.Abbs harbour was historically known as Coldingham Shore, the Coldingham fishermen lived in Fishers' Brae & carried their fishing gear down to the harbour along the Creel Road a mile & a half long, later returning with creels of fish, most likely herring.

I had to get off & push the bike most of the way because the ground was covered in hawthorn clippings since the hedge either side of the path had been trimmed & as ALL cyclists know thorns & pneumatic tyres are not a good combo ! 
I'm looking forward to coming here in the better weather when the hedge is in leaf, I think it will be like riding through a tunnel & all enclosed.

Coming into Coldingham I saw at the last minute the street sign for Fishers' Brae.

Pity this information plaque about Oliver Cromwell's siege of the priory in 1648 is damaged.

The path brought me into the grounds of Coldingham Priory Church, I could do a whole blog post on this alone it is steeped in history, so rather than me writing an essay on it I have included a Wikipedia link below.
Wikipedia Link - 'Coldingham Priory Church'

'The Old Hearse House'
Sited at the main entrance of the Priory, constructed in the 1850's to provide accommodation for the hearse, following the Victorian restoration of Coldingham Priory, originally there were louvres in the window to the left of the plaque as the building had another occasional use as a mortuary !
So after an eventful ride around the area along of old heritage paths, moorland, woods, cliff top trails & historical villages I was glad to get back to the car drenched, hungry & looking forward to a hot bath & usual post ride coffee.
Next time I come down I will look forward to a fish supper from a work mates dad's fish & chip shop in Coldingham which will open soon, here's hoping he sells ice cream too :-)

Thanks for visiting & please do come back for another ride around with me.