Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Better Late Than Never :-/

I need to start this blog with an apology, It's been waaaay too long since my last post & this particular ride was back in the middle of January & I still have another to upload from the last day in January which I'll need to get done as soon as. I could come out with the excuses of working extra hours & longer shifts at work during a factory shut down & another bad back for a week or so blah blah blah, but in all honesty Iv'e been a bit too lazy of late & need to drop a gear & get back to the business of biking !
So anyway better late than never & for this ride out back in the middle of January there was a fair bit of snow on the higher ground along the Lammermuir Hills so I decided to head upwards with no real route choice in mind & just wanted to go where ever I felt like but yet again my road was blocked by my best friends the cows so about turning I had to go another way, but it was still all in a good late morning ride

Leaving the warmth of home & starting off the day cycling up towards Aikengall the blood in the legs was soon up to temperature, the day was damp, drizzly & not very warm at all.

Bonnetty Knowe a hill on a local farm which I had permission to hunt rabbits with my ferrets, it was great fun & this hill was like Swiss cheese with the amount of rabbit holes in it which can do a lot of damage to livestock breaking their legs if the step into one of the many rabbit holes. Ferreting is a great field sport which I enjoyed a lot, it's done by identifying a rabbit warren then covering up all the rabbit holes with purse nets, then releasing a ferret or two into the bury to chase out the rabbits into the purse nets which would close around the rabbit as it bolted the hole capturing it. There is is a lot more to tell about the sport but this is the gist of it. At one point I had nearly 30 ferrets & polecats in a custom built shed with a big run for them to socialize, I kept mostly 'jills' which are the females, as I preferred the females for hunting with as they were small enough to pass through the purse nets without disturbing them too much, I was a great believer in using transmitter collars on my ferrets so that I could locate them underground & dig them out if they had rabbits holed up in a stop end (a rabbit tunnel that goes no where) & even with the transmitter collars they could pass through the nets no problem unlike the 'hobs' which are the males & are much much bigger than the jills. The males tend to kill more under ground then fall asleep once fed leaving you to try locating it & then dig him out !
Anyway enough of ferreting, this blog is about cycling so lets get going it's getting cold !

As I crossed over the cattle grid into Aikengall ground the hills around were covered in a light dusting of snow & I could feel the temperature dropping the higher I went.

It was a difficult ride cycling up the Aikengall wind farm road, the road was just a slush of mud & crushed ice with all the tipper lorries going up & down to the new phase of the wind farm at Wester Dodd, it was like cycling through a plate of mince & tatties !

The cloud had lifted slightly & there were a few flakes of snow falling but visibility was still good enough to see some cracking views & photos.

Further into the hills to the south the cloud was fairly low, thick & looked like it was snowing.

Arriving at the crossroads leaving the Aikengall wind farm I took the ice & snow covered public road to my left, I couldn't believe the road was this bad & the wind farm road was more or less clear ???

As I rode along into the Monynut forest there was a freezing fog which was in the true sense of the word freezing, I could feel the cold go deep into my lungs with every breath.

Cold & wishing I had a flask of coffee rather than a bottle of juice, my spirits were lifted for a minute as I found a £1 coin in the middle of the road a good find for a tight arsed Scotsman :-)

Looking across into the Scottish Borders & through the wintry blue hue I could still see the prominently shaped hill of Dirrington Great Law which is on my radar to do but I think I'll wait until the sun shines for a few more hours in the day & has a bit more heat in it !

Choices choices stay on the road towards Chrichness or onto the tracks of Crystal Rig wind farm...
...Crystal Rig it is.

I was surprised that there were so many berries on these bushes, I though the bird would of had them stripped long before now.
Through the trees & into the baron landscape of the wind farm/

As I was slipping & sliding my way along the fire road track when I approached the corrugated tin hut there were four roe deer out in the clearing, they soon spotted me & took off into the woods. Those with a keen eye will see one of the deer in the picture of the tin hut just above the right hand side of the roof.

Another little roe deer a bit further along the track, it had no idea I was there & then it spotted me from the cover from under the tree it didn't know how to react & a stare off ensued...
...after a pause it bolted into the thick pine woods.

A break in the trees allowed a decent view along the Birk Cleugh Hill with the Bothwell burn meandering along the bottom.
From this elevated spot my planned route was a no go !
 Down below I spied a heard of cows feeding from a cattle trough which was right in the middle of the path & I needed to pass through this field, I didn't for one minute think that there would be any cows out in the fields at this time of year, so like a rabbit caught in the headlights I stopped & wondered what to do, I decided to keep going down the track to the gate into the cattle field & maybe with the lay of the land I could sneak by them & jump over the Bothwell burn to safety without being noticed !

Well that was a plan not very well executed !
 When I got down to the gate I thought if I could climb over the fence & down the banking, across the burn & over the fence on the other side while the cows were pre-occupied feeding. But looking down the banking the ground below was flooded & saturated so I could no way of out run the cows if they went onto the attack & just then I looked around to my side & there was two of the bovine terrors drinking from the burn who quickly stopped drinking when they saw me.
So that was that, back up the hill I go with tail between my legs, I hate being terrified of cows I think I'll need to invest in a cattle prod to take on my travels :-/

Back on the Crystal Rig wind farm roads again.
 Where to go now ?
I decided to go & find the new wind farm road linking Crystal Rig to Aikengall wind farm, so off I went.

The lichen & snow covered trees with the bright red berries from the shrubs looked like a scene from Narnia, I knew I was safe from the snow queen she was back at the house heh heh !

Stopping at the top of the hill over looking the dozens & dozens of turbines it was a very eerie feeling, not one turbine was turning as there was not even a breath of wind & it was so still that air had that icy cold feeling which just cuts right through you. Normally when the turbines are operating they make a sort of clattering sound as well as the sound of the air being swished with the turbine blades, I did hear some banging & spotted the hatch open at the top of one of them which was being worked on by the engineers.

You can see the way the snow has blown into lines on some of the above pictures, these were once the irrigation channels from when it was once a thick pine forest, how times have changed from a harvestable crop of soft wood trees to a harvestable source of power.

Iv'e never really bothered looking for this road before albeit it is a fairly new road, it was a bit different than the normal routes I take around the wind farm so it was a little bit of a surprise to find the 1st turbine installed here at Crystal Rig...
...think I need to get out more !

From the Crystal Rig & Aikengall link road I arrived back at the cross roads & again I can't believe that the council owned public road is impassable to anything other than 4 wheel drives & tractors but yet the wind farm road is clear of snow & ice for construction traffic !

Looking down the start of the Sheeppath Glen, it's been a while since Iv'e been down there & I'll need to have a blast down it soon I think.

No way a car would of been able to drive along here the ice was around 3" thick & the snow had also frozen solid.
The track on the right hand side of the Sheeppath Glen barely visible with the snow cover, you can follow this glen right down to the coast.

It was a strange sight to see from here looking down over the Lowlands with no snow at all.

From the top of the hill it was a high speed blast downhill from above Elmscleugh back home to Innerwick where my bike was looking forward to a power wash & I was looking forward to a hot mug of coffee & a bag of beef flavoured crisps so that I in my mind could have the last laugh at those pesky coos today :-)

I have started up a new Facebook page called
 Mtb Innerwick Stravaiger
 which will give notifications & new links to my blogs as well as some cool & random mountain biking videos & other bike related photos & videos that Iv'e shared. It's early days yet so not a lot of stuff on the page as of yet but please give it a thumbs up like & like a fine wine it will get better with age cheers.

Thanks for tagging along I hope you enjoyed the ride.