Posts Tagged ‘paths’

Manor House

Cranking along at 19mph nearly home and there’s a glimpse of brown through the hedgerow. Then another glimpse. It’s moving quickly. Probably more deer like those that crossed the track whilst we were cycling the quagmire that is Garelton Walk near Whitekirk, where the motorbike eroded ruts were so deep the only way to keep going is to preserve momentum as the ground either side is too high to allow pedaling.

Slurp! Sticky…sticky….thump! Momentum lost….splat! Dumped in the mud. Ouch. Stop laughing at the back.

It wasn’t deer as the next flash is black & white…as the hedgerow dipped and the road rose we saw the craziest sight come into view. Cows. Lot’s of cows. Cows. Racing. Us. Haphazardly canting along the hillside like be-costumed It’s A Knockout contestants. It was the second unofficial race we became embroiled in. The cows were much more civilized and agreeable than the first set of opponents.

The track that intersects the John Muir Way is taking us towards Binning Woods before we then head to the afore-mentioned Garelton Walk. It’s in reasonable shape, old sometimes broken access road. But it stinks. WHAT is that smell? It coats your lungs and nasal passages and doesn’t leave. The smell of putrefaction lasts over a mile. The only explanation is either this is where the (now dead) sperm whale from Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy interfaced with the planet and ended his short period of existence by learning that gravity is, indeed, a bitch,  or, as the lad suggests, maybe the US didn’t dump Bin Laden’s body at sea, instead they fired his corpse out the back of a C-130 transport plane somewhere over rural East Lothian!

Binning woods was soaking too, tracks with deep wet tractor ruts. We stay on the main route through, avoiding the various logging paths which are flooded at the bottom as they run off down the hill. This is a small working forestry with logs stacked along both sides of the track.

Tyninghame. Back on the road as the sodden, muddy paths were not hospitable to us today. In the distance a huge pack of road cyclists, possibly a racing club. We tank it down the hill to the bottom at which we are turning right to avoid being caught with this huge pack. We beat them down easily and turn off. Oncoming traffic means the lad has to wait patiently to turn. He positions himself perfectly just to the side of the line in the middle. The racers catch up.

Two abreast. Three abreast.

“You could be a bit quicker next time”

shouts one of the racers, as if encouraging a youngster to throw himself in front of a car just to prevent them from having to – lord forbid – steer, brake or yield even an inch of tarmac despite the lad having the right of way. The Mum gives them a severe dose of invective but this does not dampen our frustration and indignation at these events, particularly when a slower rider we speak to tells us one of the same group told him “to get out of the fucking way for fuck’s sake” as they passed him. Like a swarm of angry bees, these brightly-coloured carbon-mounted menaces arrogantly assume they own the road and can ignore any and all rules whilst being rude and discourteous to fellow road users. Rings a bell doesn’t it – it will be EXACTLY the same patter they espouse over lunch when discussing motorists. Most of whom, perhaps surprisingly, we have found to be very patient and careful on the rural roads we cycle in between paths and tracks. Disappointing and fuels the “all cyclists are menaces” mantra.

Hailes Castle

We fuel up in East Linton with picnic stuff to take over to Hailes Castle which lies south of Traprain. It’s an extensive ruin next to the River Tyne and is a great place to picnic at as we stuff back some well earned calories. The lad is getting better – and braver. He attempts to defeat gravity on a grassy downhill Evil Kinevel would have given second thoughts, and goes over the handlebars for a muddy faceplant. He gets up mostly unharmed and much wiser.

The rain wisely decides against pissing off  gravity and begins splattering the earth – and us – as we near Haddington. It’s warm and very humid so the rain isn’t terribly irritating – hey you can only get so wet anyway. But it accompanies us through Haddington and up the Aberlady Road and round Camptoun. Despite this, and perhaps due to the effort of the climb up from Haddington, this is the only point of the ride that I get in the zone and tune out all the crap..it’s been a frustrating cycle today….I find myself whistling Peter Gabriel’s “Games Without Frontiers” for who knows what reason as we crank on towards home and our short race with the CCRT – Cravendale* Cows Racing Team!

Jeux San Frontiers indeed.

Miles: 22  Bugs swallowed: 0  Ice-cream: 0  Sandwiches: 2  Mud: lashings  Calories burned: 1639  Mechanical problems: 1 minor  Nettle stings: too many  Tosser motorists: 0  Moronic cyclists: lots

*Cravendale is a double-filtered milk which is apparently soooo good the cows will come back to reclaim it – at least in the mind of some overly-paid ad man.

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The beasties hover and ambush you in groups as you hurtle through their airspace.

Bam! Bam! Bam!

Forming a pattern like they’ve been fired from some ancient blunderbuss. They don’t hurt, but they leave gooey marks if they impact hard enough that their heads and tails become one as they splatter your cycling jersey.

“Are you going far” asks the friendly old wifey, who, with her rotund midriff and wide brimmed hat, looks like a colonial governor on safari in the jungle as she ceremonially stalks the first part of the ‘way’, shooting pesky natives with her fly-filled blunderbuss.  She seems impressed with the intended trip – we’ve come down to East Linton, East Linton > North Berwick following the John Muir Way – a series of paths and rights of way that are joined together to provide an off-road walking and cycling route that stretches from Muir’s birthplace of Dunbar along 45 miles of coastline, also joined by the East Linton spur.

Apart from the odd wasp chewing sour-puss, most people are happy to share these trails and chat, and I always proffer a cheery ‘hello & thank you’ to everyone I pass, even those who look like they’ve just seen Beelzebub come into view atop a bike and just stare as they try to process your appearance.

Duck…weave…hop….brake..BRAKE…climb…out the saddle…batter on……the second part of forest singletrack is superb, fast enough to whizz along, lot’s of twists and mini climbs and dips, with roots, stumps and the odd sticking out branch all coming at you fast to keep you on your pedals.

North Berwick is heaving with tourists of almost every nationality, with the whole place planted with myriad flowers and in bloom it’s a riot of colour in the brilliant sunshine. I put back 500 of the near 2000 calories I’ll burn today with a quick lunch before cracking on towards Gullane. Astonishingly quickly we come on Yellowcraig beach…the ice cream van is tempting but a new ice cream shop in Gullane is the next destination so we forego Mr Whippy’s facsimile for the real thing.

Archerfield House

The signage is good but not perfect for the route to Gullane – we skirt along the golf course path a little further but soon connect back up, and also take an unintended detour past the magnificent Archerfield House before jumping back on the path.

There’s a biplane of all things buzzing alongside and above us as we come out of Archerfield Estate into Gullane. For giggles I wave at the pilot and to my surprise he spots me and flicks on the smoke switch. He then, to our delight, does a couple of sorties over his new appreciative audience. Brilliant!

The ice cream is cold yet begins melting immediately in the increasingly warm sunshine. It’s good, creamy and well-earned as there be hills soon. Don’t pass through Gullane without sampling!

We detour off the path before it continues to Aberlady and head past Myreton Motor Museum. I’ve passed this several times before but never visited and I don’t break that habit today at least. It looks deserted anyway.

The path shown by the map at Ballencrieff has been ploughed and planted so we didn’t get to Camptoun that way – had to double back and head up the road, slog..slog…slog…..then the fast bit back home.

Good times. GOOD times.

Miles: 27  Bugs swallowed: 0  Ice-cream: 1 Cake: 0 Calories burned: 1737  Mechanical problems: 0  Tosser motorists: 1