Monday, 8 July 2013

Red Moss Revelation 7/07/13 and a grand day out.

I felt the cloudy start to the day was a good reason for another hour in bed, however Mary delivered a cup of tea at 8am and marching orders. By the time we got to Balerno car park it was around 10.30 and the cloud was lifting. We did a loop round the Red Moss walkway. The Bog Cotton adds a snow-like charm and the place is just amazing.

As we climbed Beech Avenue Richard and Douglas descended and we stopped for a chat (almost a quorum for a committee meeting!). I think RD was doing 2 laps of the low circuit as he is currently on an ultra drive to see how many miles he can run before his knee drops off.

At the top of the road we turned right and headed up to the kips. The haze and clouds were lifting as were my spirits. Not so for everyone in the hills. I think the warm weather was making some of the walkers a bit tetchy and two ladies in comfortable shoes coming off West Kip had particularly sour faces on as I bode them hello.

cheerful ramblers in the dip

By the top of West Kip my shirt was soaking, but drying out quickly in the warm breeze. Mary was not hanging about and before we were off East Kip we had overhauled a party of older and more cheerful ramblers. We had seen them on the summit of W Kip as we ran up the drove road, silhouetted like so many chimneys.

the Yak H shuffle

Storming towards a second ascent of Scald Law

A long haul up to Scald Law summit then down and up to Carnethy. Round the summit fortress of stones then back the way we came and back up Scald Law. With the hard work done (and it was hard work in the heat) we descended towards the Howe turning left along the Coffin Rd back to Balerno. (I said to Mary if I was her doctor I'd give her a clean bill of health: her running seems to have returned to full strength. She says not quite, but the signs are very positive.) 

For a while I have been trying to use this shale heap as a backdrop but it's hard to get far enough away.

jigsaw time

Having clocked 10 miles Mary didn't feel the need for a last turn around the Red Moss. I wanted another chance to capture the bog cotton with the sun fully out this time. I left the walkway and strayed into the woods, the spiders' webs snagging across my face as I sank into the dried out sponge of desiccated bog and swamp, the thought of Mary back at the car pulling me in one direction, the beauty of the moss and undergrowth luring me deeper into the woods. I resisted the call of the wild returning to the path but stopped at the pond hoping to see some wildlife. The place was hoaching with damselflies and bugs skating across the meniscus. A movement to the right as a large frog surfaced and blinked lazily. I videoed the frog but he just sat there motionless and dark brown, making for a very poor action film. You can see my hand come in from the right of the frame with a long stem of grass trying to encourage some amphibious action but Mr. Frog stubbornly refused to play ball. The paired damselflies were, if anything, too hyper, flitting about the pond, their transparent wings a blur of movement. I managed to avoid the urge to step into the warm water and get in among the creatures, but only just.

By the time I got back to the car Mary had eaten more than half the cherries. Given how marvellous they tasted she had shown quite a lot of restraint.

When we got home there was just time for a shower, a look at the photos, some salad and to charge the camera battery again before heading out with my brother to take my mum for a walk. She had been harbouring the notion of a trip to Aberlady for a while, perhaps because we are always raving on about how nice it is there, and the owls / geese / wildlife we have seen. I had been suggesting we wait till more settled weather, and so here we are in the middle of the best Summer in years. I was a bit concerned (to put it mildly) about her ability to manage (at 82 years old) over the bridge and along the sandy trails.

Neil and Laura

Her trip, last festival, to Arthur's Seat in the dark to watch the Speed of Light show (albeit from a low level viewpoint in Hunter's Bog,) had given her a taste for an adventure, and she was actually quite able to manage about a mile from the car park, over the bridge, through the shrubby lane and past the pond, (Marl Loch.) We had chosen the same day as thousands of frogs who seemed to be on migration, or at least out for a stroll in the delightfully warm evening. Most of them were tiny – about spider sized, and you had to be careful not to stand on them as they hopped about the path. At first I thought they must be the offspring of the toads that appear the first warm day of the year usually around March (see Alternative John Muir Way) but seeing an adult, recognised they were probably frogs.

Mum had a splendid outing, really enjoying the surroundings, the swifts and swallows buzzing around and all the wild-flowers which are at their best just now. If the weather continues, next trip planned is perhaps to Gullane and a walk along to Gullane Point. Also, just to complete the evening, the trip was bookended by a special game of tennis which we watched the closing moments of on Neil's phone as we picked up his daughter Laura, and stopping off for a chip supper for mum on the way home, another nostalgic treat to round off a pretty fine day out.

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