Friday, 15 May 2015

Tyne Traveller

It's been a wee while since I rode along the banks of the river Tyne & with my last blog post I cycled a short path along side the Biel Burn of which the waterside plant life was growing fast, the different species of plants were emitting all sorts of wonderful strong pungent smells, so I thought I would up the scale from a burn to a river & take a trip along the river Tyne.

Wednesday was a dry overcast warm & muggy day & days like that make the plants secrete their amazing aromas, so starting my day from John Muir country park where the Tyne ends it's fresh water journey & blends into the salty sea I set the pedals & wheels in motion...  

Cycling around the edge of the tree lined path of the park where there's an unrelenting battle of nature versus nature as the trees are slowly being felled by the erosion. 

The estuary almost at high tide.

Even the going, going, gone trees are still just clinging to life & are in leaf, there must still be just enough nutrients around the soil of the roots where they've slipped down onto the beech, but they are on borrowed time as the wind & water flush away the soil around their roots.

Mean & moody skies but lovely & warm along the path.
From here I cycled through a plague of hawthorn flies for most of the day due to the warm muggy weather, a huge hatch of hawthorn flies was on & I was thinking that maybe I should of went fly fishing instead as the weather was absolutely perfect for some top of the water dry fly action, but I was committed to my day on the bike & was enjoying it all the same. 
Fortunately hawthorn flies are not annoying & don't follow you like many other flying beasties !

Leaving the estuary following the John Muir Way walking route along the ware road towards Tyninghame.

Then under the bridge & onto the path which follows the Tyne inland.

Just before the village of East Linton the riverside path crosses over the Black bridge an old WWII Bailey Bridge where some new timber decking has been installed by a joint effort by Mr Hamilton of Phantassie farm & the East Lothian Ranger Service.

For a short distance I leave the riverside path passing through Phantassie farm & into East Linton to rejoin the Tyne again further upstream.

Just as I cycled under the old A1 bridge I spotted a young dipper bird sitting on a rock waiting to be fed by it's parents.
When it matures the dipper's plumage will turn a dark brown/black colour & will have a brilliant white bib.
Dippers feed by diving under the water turning over stones to gather aquatic insects.

The route along the Tyne was not disappointing, the riverside plant smells were amazing & constantly changing along the way. 
 What do you think ..?
...Do the steps go up or down ?
Not much left now, I think this might be an old Austin Mini that had been rolled over the edge & down the banking many moons ago.

Wild garlic loves the shade & there's no mistaking it's strong onion/garlic smell as you ride by.

Passing under the noisy A1 dual carriageway bridge, an impressive bridge in the modern times of concrete I suppose, but how much more pleasing to the eye would it be if it was a stone built bridge with lots support arches :-/

Over the footbridge across the Tyne passing Hailes Castle to get onto a track by Howkins wood which will take me to the bottom of Traprain Law where I wanted to climb up & bag the trig point on it's summit.

Once up past the woods the track opens up to views of the surrounding fields & the imposing lump of rock that is Traprain Law.

Taking the west side path to start my hill climb & I had to have a laugh at this sign at the gate entrance about not damaging the monument in any way, a bit late considering that the damage has been done when it was once quarried as seen in the above picture of the hill with a slice taken away like a piece of cake.

Traprain Law trig point & that's another ticked off the list.

Exmoor ponies were brought here to Traprain Law & also North Berwick Law to feed on the coarse grasses that's too tough for sheep to handle & this allows smaller wild plants to flourish & grow as well as encourage a larger variety of insects to the area  The Exmoor pony is a hardy breed of animal able to withstand the harsh cold & windy conditions of exposed landscapes.
North view over to North Berwick the Firth of Forth & the Kingdom of Fife beyond.
South view to the edge of the Lammermuir Hills.
Over to the East to my local town Dunbar & the river Tyne estuary.
And West to the town of Haddington & further behind the Pentland Hills of Edinburgh.
But after the hard slog to get up here it only takes seconds to get back down to the roadside again.

Back over the bridge across the Tyne again & up hill to Overhailes farm & along to Pencraig hill where from here gives a great vantage point of Traprain Law & the Lammermuir Hills behind them, but not only that there is something else of interest here at Pencraig...

...A Spigot Mortar base left over from WWII.
The spigot mortar would of been used by the Home Guard if the coastal defences had been breached & it's intended purpose would of been to slow the advance of the invader until reinforcements arrived, as you can see from one of the pictures above the spigot mortar was in a strategic position ready to fire at the enemy as they came to the Pencraig hill summit. 

Now heading back towards East Linton through a field right of way to rejoin the Tyne path.

Phantassie pigeon doocot.
Now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland & built in the 16th century the doocot is an unusual design compared to many of East Lothians doocots, behind the 4 feet (1.2m) thick walls there are 544 nest boxes all built in stone.
Doocots were very important to the people of this time as they provided meat & eggs throughout the year as well as the dung being used to fertilise fields & for tanning leather.

A view of East Linton with the lump of rock that is Traprian Law standing behind & from here you can see the size of the area taken out while it was being quarried.

Back onto the riverside path passing by the 18th century Preston Mill, there has been a mill on this site as far back as the 16th century & recently the mill was used for filming a scene in TV series Outlander aired in the US, much to the annoyance of my wife as she is a huge fan of the series of books by the author Diana Gabaldon in which a women from the 1940's visits a stone circle & then somehow ends up going back in time to the Jacobite period in the 1700's.
Below is a link to the episode featuring the Preston Mill, it's a full episode but if you skip to 40 minutes 28 seconds that is the part of the mill.
Outlander - Preston Mill - 40m 28s

Back under the Tyninghame bridge & along the designated JMW path to the ware road again

By the time I got back the tide was well on it's way out again ringing the dinner bell for the wading birds once more.

The yellow flowers of the gorse bushes were really strong giving off the smell of almonds in the warm sun & yellow flowers attract scores of flying insects which I ended up inhaling as I cycled by.
This is a great location for a nights camping lots of places for both the tent or hammock with plenty of firewood for a small camp fire, a good plan soon to be done I think. 

Last wee bit of fun for the day cycling along the tracks through the woods of John Muir country park, then back to the van to head back home happy & contented.

Thanks for coming along for the adventure, cheerio for now.