Friday, 24 June 2016

Lost Bridges Spanning The Same Water


An article that caught my eye in a work newsletter of which my company had donated three tonnes of bagged cement to a project being carried out up in the nearby village of Oldhamstocks to repair a bridge which had been washed away in 2010. 
My nose got the better of me & I fancied a wee ride up the hills to find this bridge which I knew nothing about, I also remembered that a work mate had once told me that he found an old bridge in the Dunglass Estate down in the gorge of Dunglass Dean so I thought that I'd set off on an adventure to find these two bridges & check them out.

Riding along the quiet hill roads the heat was enhancing the very strong smells emitting from the gorse & hawthorn bushes a true country smell it was.

As I rode by the electricity substation a bird of prey caught my eye as it was landing near the top of the pylon, it was quite big but too small to be a buzzard, zooming in with the camera I was amazed to see that it was a peregrine falcon out here in the open hills. Normally peregrines hunt & live near cliffs, high rise buildings or open marsh lands where there is a plentiful source of pigeons or large flocks of water birds to feed on so I thought it unusual to be out here in the open grazing lands. 
There is a resident breeding pair at my work the cement plant due to the tall buildings, quarry & copious amounts of pigeons so I could hardly see them coming as far as this & there is also a breeding pair at Torness power station & again I reckon there will be enough pigeons there amongst the large buildings to sustain there hunger.

Enjoying a short spell cycling amongst some shaded tree cover I was soon out in the open again exposed to the blistering heat as I turned to take the road to Cocklaw.

The view in front of me of the rolling Lammermuir hills which will soon be ruined as now the erection of yet more wind turbines are starting to foul the skyline.

                                Arriving at the hill farm of Stottencleugh.

It was a colourful ride along the wee hill roads of Stottencleugh with the gorse bushes in full flower, then I soon take a right turn up towards the Woolands farm to join the local circular walk & find the bridge.

Leaving the road just before the farm there was a faint track in the long grass & I guessed that this must be the walk, the track soon became more defined as I went forwards.

And there it is the Old Mill footbridge rebuilt in this beautiful location spanning the Oldhamstocks Burn.
The bridge was washed away in 2010 after the savage winter weather conditions resulted in snow melt swelling the burn & washing away the popular local footbridge.
The local community got together back in 2012 to explore what could be done to restore the popular bridge used by locals as a circular round walk & my work was approached for help of which they provided 3 tonnes of cement & a work colleague who lives in the village was on the team assisting the project.
I think it's great to see projects like this happening, a bridge like this doesn't mean much to many people & I never knew that it even existed until I saw the article in the works newsletter but to the people who live in the village & use the bridge it means a lot & is a fantastic achievement for them to rally round & get their bridge back, great stuff.

Oldhamstocks Mill cottage a real gem hidden away in the trees.

I had planned to take an off road Scot routes trail which would take me from here in Oldhamstocks down into the Dunglass estate but just my luck the field was occupied by my friends who like to moo & I like to avoid if I can !
So up the hill & down the other side & I picked up the same route at Springfield farm.

You can tell that's mother & daughter !

Now into Dunglass estate

 While I was cycling through the estate I was trying to remember where my work colleague Jimmy told me where the old bridge down in the Dunglass Dean was.
 So heading into the Belvidere Wood where a former French camp was once sited, hence the French name for these woods & passing by the old estate gazebo again of French design which is looking a bit neglected & forgotten, the gazebo is a classical summer house built in 1718 & decorated with ornate carvings such as winged cherubs, fleur-de-lys & flower details & it's a shame seeing something this old not being looked after.

A corvid trap.
The crows, rooks, ravens, magpies etc can manage to get into the bated trap but are unable to then fly out thus trapping them. The purpose of trapping & killing them is normally carried out by gamekeepers trying to protect their game birds from the corvid species who prey on the young game birds & eggs.

Following a gamekeepers track I scanned the Dean below but I couldn't quite remember exactly where Jimmy had said the bridge was, I knew it was down there somewhere, but it's a big hill to go down & lots of stinging nettles to wade through, so I'll check with Jimmy again & put it on the 'to do' list for winter time when the foliage has died back.

Across the Dunglass bridge & back into the very welcome shaded woodland.
The former John Muir Way path from Fisherrow in Musselburgh to Cockburnspath before it was altered in 2014 to make the route a long distance route from Dunbar John Muirs birthplace on the east of Scotland to Helensburgh on the west of the country where Muir left these shores to start a new life in the United States of America. This former JMW route is now just called the JMW link path from Dunbar to Cockburnspath where another long distance route starts/ends the Southern Upland Way.

Spotting something on a map the night before I was keen to climb up the top of this small conical hill next to the Eildbalks wood to investigate.

On the map I noticed these standing stones which I'd never knew existed, but at the same time I didn't quite expect standing stones like this I was thinking that there was going to be some big ancient stone or stone.
I can't seem to find out much information about these stones all I can find is that they are most likely from the near by Dunglass Collegiate Church site. Not much to go on there I'm afraid & I think there is a far more interesting story than what little information there is to go on !
The old sink is not part of the feature but a drinking vessel for livestock & I'll bet that's why one of the pillars is knocked over onto it's side a bit with sheep & cattle using it as a scratching post.

One of the stones was a square shape, another was octaganol with a pointed top & the other 2 were cylindrical shaped again with pointed tops, one of the two had been broken off on one side.

From the hill summit where the stones are located there is some stunning views looking around & I could see the roof of the gazebo & the collegiate church tower both poking through the thick cover of trees.
I set off along the single track to pop into my friend Davy's who lives in the nearby village of Cockburnspath for a cup of tea & Davy always has a well stocked chocolate biscuit tin :-)...
...Davy wasn't in so no tea or chocolate biscuit !
In case you forget what cycle route your on it's 76 !

From the hot countryside I dropped down to the cooler coast here on Dunglass beach.
A dead gannet washed up amongst the kelp, I'm always surprised at ho big these birds are, they're amazing birds to watch as the fold back their wings & dive into the sea at incredible speed to catch their prey.
Someone lost their pan for bailing water from their boat.

There's always something to find down at this beach, this buoy was just a wee bitty too big to carry home for my kids pirate fort in the garden.
As the waves battered into the shore the noise was quite deafening as the pebbles & rocks rolled in & out with the momentum of the tide.

Leaving the shore of Dunglass beach & up into the woods where the wild garlic was rather pungent to say the least.

This is a section of beach I like to walk along but you need to be aware of the tides as you could easily be cut off here with no way to safety.

Here at Thorntonloch beach my kids & I like to come down to when we can & when we do we like to bring carrier bags to litter pick as we walk along, it's amazing how much plastic & other rubbish we collect on our travels, I like to educate my kids how important it is not to throw litter away & what the consequences are to wildlife & nature in general, and with that they are always playing a game to see which one of us can collect the most litter on our walks.

Fossilised coral in the region of 320 million years old, you can see how wetting the coral infused limestone rocks highlights the coral.

Carrying my bike along the soft sand in front of the seaside caravan park of Thorntonloch there were a couple of cool sculptures I hadn't noticed before, a viking longboat & a cow made from an old car exhaust ! 

Crossing the busy A1 & up the hill it was back home & the end of another day riding around the country & coast of my home routes one bridge found & one bridge not found but it's always enjoyable & I hope you enjoyed the tour too.
Until next time thanks for viewing & cheerio for now.