Tuesday, 19 January 2016

There's Snow Hope Getting To Lammer Law

It was the first heavy snowfall locally higher up in the Lammermuir Hills, we had a small dusting in Innerwick which was all gone by the morning & there was a covering still up behind Innerwick on the higher ground, so I had a the great thought of driving up to the Hopes & go for a ride up to the top of Lammer Law for some snow covered panoramic views at the summit of the Lammermuir Hills second highest hill.
The day did not turn out as planned !

It didn't take long to reach snow covered roads & the surrounding scenery looked amazing, the snow was covering everything, very calm with no wind to blow it off from the tree branches.

Parking up the van at East Hopes I set of with great expectations along the snow covered road looking forward to the wintry views from the summit of Lammer Law but I soon realised that this was going to be a hard task.

It was near impossible to cycle along the flat road let alone cycling uphill & within a few hundred yards of my van already I was on foot pushing my bike.

Wading through fairly deep snow & climbing uphill it was a real struggle but as I trudged onwards I soon could see the Hopes reservoir in all it's winter glory. The snow was around 4-6 inches deep & about knee height where it had drifted, it was very powdery snow, the type that cannot be compacted into snowballs.

With all the recent heavy rain a vast amount of water was pouring down the overflow from the reservoir, it would be fun if it froze over. 

It was a real winter scene, fluffy unspoilt white snow, black skeletal trees & shrubs & the reservoir reflected the brilliant bright blue sky, it all looked very pristine & perfect.

For such a short walk to here my leg muscles were already aching & I quickly realised that today was going to be a no go, I still had a long way to go to reach Lammer Law & the track went deeper into the hills so I reckoned that the snow drifts would only get worse with pretty much no cycling to be had at all, so taking the obligatory bike photos I about turned & rode back the way I came trying to keep upright.

 I was absolutely gutted that I had to go back but hey ho that's the gamble with the weather & today the snow won !

As I rode back I kept on seeing these little birds, I wasn't sure what they were so by the power of social media ( a facebook group page  called Scottish birds & wildlife ) I found out that they were stonechats this one in particular a female.

Nearing my van the weather was quickly turning moody & it looked like more snow was coming over the hills.

Back to my wee van I put the bike in the back & set off for home with my tail between my legs.

It was fun & games driving along the snow covered roads let alone cycling them, dreading I would meet another car coming the other way which eventually happened, luckily it was a 4x4 so they were courteous enough to move over for me so I didn't lose momentum.

Stopping to get a couple of pictures of the snowy Lammermuirs which looked flat today with everything blanketed under snow if only I had a couple of John Deere tyres on my bike I might of made it to the top.
However it was nice to have been out in the snow albeit just for a little while, I love the snow & I think most folk revert back to their childhood when it snows, it certainly bring out the happy me anyway.
So I thank you for the visit & next time I'll plan my day a wee bitty better & get out for a decent cycle & get a few miles in !

Monday, 4 January 2016

7Stanes - Innerleithen - 'Matador' Downhill

First of all a Happy New Year to one & all.
I start 2016 where I finished off from last year at the 7Stanes Innerleithen bike trails in the Scottish Borders, my friend John & I took a trip down during the holidays for a blast down some of the downhill trails.

I could hardly believe my eyes at the carnage after the flooding caused by storm Frank which happened a couple of days after I was last here just after Christmas, then there had already been flooding but after storm Frank the flooding was the highest it had been for over one hundred years ! The river Tweed must be around 150-200 yards from the car park for the bike trails & going by the sheer amount of debris all around the car park it must of been of been easily under 3-4 foot deep of water !
Geared up & ready to hit the trails & John new to mountain biking (hence the white trainers) was excited to get going...

John was very excited indeed !!!

We set off up the push up path towards our first chosen downhill trail called the "Matador".
There are four down hill trails here at Innerleithen called 'Matador', 'Cresta Run', 'Gold Run' & 'Make or Brake' aswell as the red graded cross country trail that I did with Davy the last time here. 

Pushing the bikes up the steep push up path in the heavy rain it was quite interesting to see some of the gnarly, rocky & rooty sections the we'd have to negotiate on the way back down the downhill trail.

After what must of been nearly an hour of pushing the bikes up to the starting point of the downhill trails we reached a choice of routes, straight on for the Matador our first chosen route or turn right for the other three trails. What was quite concerning was the amount of branches & twigs we encountered on the path pushing up the hill & even a couple of fallen trees, so we were wondering what would be on the trail proper on the way back down :-/
As we pushed on another 50 yards or so to the start of the Matador, the ground was covered in super sludgy mud ! The rain has been so heavy over the last few weeks that the ground cannot cope with it any more so is well & truly water logged !

Off we went luckily the thick gloopy mud soon gave way to wet rocky & rooty trails covered in pine needles.

I kept stopping to wait on John who never appeared at one point &  I could not hear the squealing of his wet brakes so shouted up the hill to him but got no response, this section I just came down had big rocky sections & I thought the worst thinking he had come off, so off I climbed back up to see if he was ok ! He was no where to be seen so I kept climbing up the hill until I came to the fire road, still no John so I just assumed he took the fire road back down as he did say that it was a bit difficult for him not being used to this sort of biking terrain, so down I went again back to my bike so I could take off down the trail.

Some brilliant drop offs & jumps down this run & loads of technical roots & rocks to keep the brain working hard.
The above picture doesn't really show the broken branch hung up on the tree very well, it was a big sized branch which had broken off during the recent storms. I did stop to try pulling it down so that it wouldn't fall on anyone but it was just too well hooked up :-/

I arrived back at the car park after a brilliant blast down the downhill trail but there was no sign of John here at the bottom, I went back to my van to clean my goggles & have a quick bite to eat & drink, still no John starting to get a wee bitty concerned I phoned him only for it too ring out, trying again he this time answered to say he got lost somewhere on the fire road :-D finally he made it back to the van & we had a good laugh about it.
John was all for calling it a day soaking wet, muddy & disheartened & didn't relish the thought of pushing back up the to the top of the downhill trails again, I managed to talk him into giving a small section of the XC red trail a go, so we climbed uphill to the start of the 'Cadon Bank' which has a few good drop offs & some great jumps on the way back down the twisty woodland trail to the car park.

As we climbed up the hill I stopped at a clearing of the trees to look in awe at the amount of flooding covering the Tweed valley below, it was so much worse than when I was here with Davy less than a week ago. The picture directly above you can see the river Tweed to the right of the picture & the bike trail car park to the left so it just goes to show how vast the flooding had been, the river is still very high & with more heavy rain forecast I would not be surprised if it floods again :-/ 

Last wee push of the day before...

...the last little high speed blast back down again...
...much to the relief of John ! 

We both had a brilliant time I'll just need to encourage John to get out more to get his skinny little legs built up for serious hill climbs required for places like this :-)
Thanks for visiting & cheerio for now.