Sunday, 21 September 2014

equinox run

The equinox (equal night) happens twice a year when the night and day are the same length, midway between solstices. To mark this and the harvest, Jim H organised an equinox run where we would run 13 miles over the Pentlands and enjoy many local products, most of an alcoholic nature.

We caught the busy bus from Hillend to Carlops

Had a quick pint in the Allan Ramsay before setting off.

photo: Fiona

At this point I thought I was still paying attention and snuck out to put the Garmin on and have plenty time to get a signal. This I did, but forgot to actually start it when we started running. Already the drink was playing a part.

First up was a long climb up this grassy hill which had a lot of folk stripping off a layer or 2. The weather was quickly changing from overcast and a bit dull to bright sunshine. Perhaps we all needed a drink?

Tumblers were provided. I have come across this model before - I think they give them away free at alcoholics anonymous. Handily they had volume markings and so we were given measured amounts of Pickerings Gin. Edinburgh's first Gin Distillery in 150 years: well that deserves celebrating. Plenty of tonic in that thanks.

Along the way to the next hill Jim and Graham went off piste to pick up some more goodies they had stashed along the route. Shortly they rejoined us with a box of  Thistly Cross Cider which at 7+% was more like a wine than a cider. I think there were oatcakes as well: small round wafers and I joked about the body of christ. Or was that the Stoats flapjacks? It is difficult to recall the order and much of the detail; but it was all very acceptable.

zoooom. (pissed)

We then overlapped with the Great Pentlands Push. We saw a couple of folk out walking perhaps doing this, some kind of walk/run event that required huge amounts of support. Gazebos on the drove road and landrovers on the hills every few miles. The one above was particularly well stocked and we formed an orderly line and helped ourselves to their cheese board. CHEESE BOARD no less - Cream Crackers have to be the hardest challenge an ultra runner could face at an aid station. So we helped out. I had a ritz cracker with stilton and cheddar. The day was fast becoming bizarre. 

Up West Kip sucking crackers from teeth.

From here on it's all a blur. This looks like East Kip or Scald Law (I can't recall if we did S Black Hill?) and I suspect that is the raspberry vodka. All the drinks up to and including this were delicious.

Joel on Scald Law

The weather got better and better! The company more effusive. However we were in for a surprise on Carnethy. There was a kind of porn mash up of Julie Andrews in Planet of the Apes. It was not pretty but very funny. They also supplied us with some tampered-with whisky which would clean the oil off your chain (literally and metaphorically) and pastries and watermelon. I have no idea what passing tourists would make of this. I think a runner went past and seemed to pick up his pace as he witnessed the scene. 

and the verdict is....?

Ok hands up for a pint at the Flotterstone Inn. Numbers counted we sent off Graham and front runners to get the pints set up at Flotterstone while we made our way there in a leisurely manner.

interlude - I seem not to have taken photos of the descent

The miles between drinks was helping burn off the worst of the alcohol but I remember hoping the pint in here would dilute the other drinks and sober me up. Good plan!

As we went up the road from Flotterstone the sunset was kicking off. I think we might have missed the best of it but caught the last rays as we reached the summit of Castlelaw. We hung around for a while taking photos.

I think there were three drinks stations between there and the end of the night. The photo above is a fruit wine from Cairn O'Mohr Perth and it may just have been that it was at the end of a long day but I thought it was pretty awful. Maybe best not served luke warm and after a skinful. Also I thought the name was actually Care-no-more. Then there was the mystery guest wine in unmarked bottles. I say wine: Jim described it as a port. I was surprised, since I like port. Turns out it was that old joker Buckfast Tonic Wine. Interesting, but there was not a huge rush for seconds. 

However Jim did save a real treat for last. As we sat admiring the lights of Edinburgh below from Caerketton he passed round his mum's homemade fruit cordial alcohol type drink, which was really nice and a brilliant end to an amazing day. We had run 13 miles - it felt like about 5 and 3 of these the feet didn't really touch the ground. We had been warned to bring headtorches which we now put on and sneaking past the highland cattle raced the last downhill section getting faster and faster on the steep ground back to Hillend. My quads are still suffering today. As another delightful treat we all got either a small jar of Jim's mum's drink or raspberry jam (made by a Lennie?) which was very tasty. Huge thanks to Jim and helpers for making this a very memorable day out, well maybe not memorable, but inspired and hugely emtertaining. Rather than do any further damage I parted company and ran as far as Morningside before catching a bus. Others braver than I returned to the Steading for yet more. 

Here is an update to say thanks to the contributors a couple of whom I forgot to mention and thank:
Sean made really nice brownies which we enjoyed on the bus.
Jane made apple pies and carefully carried them up the hill.
Graham provided oatcakes, Stoats bars, Nash's berry liqueuer and bought beers for all.
Mike provided whisky tincture, tapenade pastries, and fancy dress.
Bob had his melons out.
Fiona, thanks for cheese and courgette muffins.
Thanks Jim for Ma Hardie's finest berry liqueur.
And Andrew for the excellent rasp jam memento in cute jar. (above)

I also forgot to mention the quality of the day was much improved by having a ban on the R word and a forfeit (more drinks) for anyone who started independence related conversations. 

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