Friday, 31 July 2015

Goobye Grey Sky Hello Blue

Summer ?
What summer !
Here on the south east of Scotland we've hardly had two sunny days to string together, mostly grey overcast skies with heavy downpours of rain, then the occasional burst of sunshine for a short while before the gloomy grey sky closes up again. This unpredictable weather has reflected on my cycling mood, I seem to have lost that get up & go I normally so eagerly have & when I have planned to go out for a blast on the bike the heavens open up & unload rain.
 This summer I planned a few wild camps, but where's the fun with no sun ?
Anyway managing to drag myself away from my polytunnel & garden chores I fancied giving the legs & lungs a bit of punishment & head up hill through the Crystal Rigg wind farm into the Lammermuir hills to pick up a geocache & trig point that's been on my radar for a wee while now, so off for the hills I went.

Leaving Innerwick behind as I climbed the hill roads & although the sky was looking grey & gloomy there were gaps of blue sky breaking through & the weather was warm with no wind. The crop fields are slowly turning gold & it won't be long before the combines are out in force.

Passing through Elmscleugh farm up & up the hill I go the higher I climb the cooler it was getting & the wind was picking up slightly too but that didn't bother the bee's feeding on the flowering thistles.
To my left looking over to the Aikengall wind farm where there are more turbines being put in place up by Wester Dod.
 The tipper lorry gives a good indication as to how big these things are. 

A good sign to see was the workmen strimming the pathway down the Sheeppath Glen, I'll need to have a blast down there on the Rocky Mountain soon it's a brilliant fast downhill track used by grouse shooting parties hence the track being cleared just before the grouse shooting season starts in August so I'll need to be quick. 

Heavy plant crossing between Aikengall & Crystal Rig wind farms.

As I rode along I spotted four roe deer & as soon as they saw me two of them bolted into the pine woods, leaving a male who was happy to just watch me & a female who couldn't decide what part of the fence she wanted to jump over. It's moments like this that I love being out on the bike being close to nature.

The terrain changing from the purple flowering heather to thick bracken. 

Into the Monynut forest to find an area popular with families for camping / barbecues all fenced off & ploughed up by the forestry management, I can't say that I blame them as normally this place is a real mess with empty beer cans, disposable bbq's & all sorts of rubbish left behind by people, it's a shame that a few spoil it for so many !

It was time to get off the rubber road & onto the rocks & mud following some old forestry tracks, it turned out to be a complete nightmare as no sooner had I got going through the woods a small passing rain shower decided to give me a soaking, not long after that I was swamped with flies, hundreds of them following me & clambering all over me.

Emerging from the woods to follow along the forest edge I made the legs go into overdrive to gain some speed so I could shake off my annoying pursuers, which didn't last long once I came upon the waterlogged bogs !

I was never so glad to get onto the wind farm roads so I could maintain a decent speed to get those flies to away to f**k they were really doing my head in !!!
The ruins of Friardykes not much holding the roof up now.

Leaving the wind farm behind & now following the pylon maintenance road.

I could hear the helicopter far in the distance & quickly realised that it was following the pylons checking for faults etc, so as I was right next to the pylons I waited for it to come alongside me so I could get some pictures.
When the helicopter passed I checked my GPS as I knew that I was close to the geocache location only to find that I hadn't programmed that particular geocache into the GPS device...Doh !
My planned route was now pointless !
 I had no choice but to leave the geocache for another day & the trig point of Rangely Kip I can do when I next come up this way for the geocache, so with that I went in the opposite direction & headed for the Whiteadder.
Looking over to Priestlaw hill with the Whiteadder reservoir below it, my eyes are always drawn to the near vertical straight track from top to bottom of Priestlaw hill & I've never conquered the summit of Priestlaw hill, I quite fancy making a wild camp expedition to the top at some point, maybe even this year if the weather gets any better :-/
Another favourite wild camp spot at the summit of Spartleton hill.

Normally at this time of year you can see the reservoir water level has dropped due to the lack of rainfall, but since we've had no summer & plenty of rain the water level is pretty much at full capacity.

As I followed the single track hill road towards Bothwell the depressing grey clouds are finally giving way to puffy big white clouds & blue sky making an appearance.

As with the reservoir the Bothwell burn has no shortage of water flowing along it.

Any excuse to get off the tar-mac I took a detour up around the side of Crichness Law, again on an old forestry track which will bring me back out in the Crystal Rig wind farm.

It was slow going up the hill the heat was intense & the track has pretty much been swallowed up with heather other than a game trail cutting it's way through it. 

Again those bloody flies were all over & around me.

I think I'm the picnic for the flies !!!

Onto some decent track & again I could up the pace a bit to shake off the flies.

After a short trip through the wind farm again I was soon back onto the single track hill roads which opened up some great views into Border country.

On the same road that I took earlier in the day on my way back home now & what a difference a few hours make, from horrible grey to beautiful blue skies, the weatherman got it wrong today for sure as in the afternoon it was meant to be more rain.
Good to see the workmen have finished strimming the Sheeppath Glen, I'll be up to go down it soon.

I knew it was too good to be true, as predicted the rain was making it's way from the west as seen in the top two pictures, so now it was a race to get home.
A bonnie Scottish thistle.

Nearly home & I could smell the change in the air as the clouds were building & heading my way, but they won't catch me it's all downhill for me all the way to Innerwick :-)

Thanks for taking the time to read, I hope you enjoyed the journey, at least you never had the flies for company heh heh