I asked Nick if he had any route local to his native East Lothian that he thought might make a useful Tynecastle Bronze. He came up with a 35 miler from Dunbar over to the Duns Gifford Road and back, mostly on road and very pleasant trails passing Crystal Rig Windfarm on the edge of the Lammermuirs. What with the Nationals that weekend and Nick having the Monday off we settled for Monday. Roly was available as was I, and possibly Stuart from Dunbar would join us for part of the route as well since it went past his front door.
A wonky figure of 8 we started along the coast then turned inland towards the Lammermuirs.
So, Roly and Nick met me off the Dunbar train and we set off about 9.30 taking in a couple of war memorials in Dunbar before going past Belhaven Bay and along the JMW. The weather forecast a few days before was pretty hideous but the day turned out fantastic apart from a ferocious wind on the hills.
I was familiar with the route to this point upstream of the estuary where we turned inland heading up towards the A1. Quite a bit of this was then skirting large estates and pretty hamlets.
Nick was saying how a few of the fords had been repaired recently making it easier to keep feet dry.
I think they are possibly overselling this unspectacular stone.
Another memorial in an attractive Spott. Taking a cue from Graham, (sadly absent today - he would have approved hugely) Nick parked his car at Spott and had snacks and drinks in the back. I was still hungry from Saturday's 33 miler and horsed down an Asda mini pork pie. I tend to have a pork pie every 18 months or however long it takes to forget the experience before it becomes appetising again. These were so good I requested a second immediately. Nick also had coffee to hand and I would have washed down the piggy pastries with that had he not suggested the coffee at the next stop was far superior.
Eyes still watering from running past a huge heap of manure I wouldn't have recognised this trail which is descended in the Dunbar multi 10 miler (formerly Doon Hill Race.)
This is the angle you see it in the race.
Around 13 miles and we see if Stuart is coming out to play. He asked if we required refreshments and I said YES as I was beginning to flag and knew it was pretty much 2 miles of up-hill from this point. Nick was right about the coffee and it was a life saver. I began to regret that second pie though, when I saw that Anne had been baking and there was a choice of 4, count them FOUR! types of cake. As I was still full of food from about 10 minutes ago I didn't want to risk spillage and went without. Out of politeness I didn't even shove a piece in my pocket for later. Possibly the hardest part of the day.
Stuart was just getting past a chest infection so didn't want to run the whole thing. The miles directly after his cottage were tough. A lot of steep gradient and as we rose so did the wind. When we got to the summit plain and wind farm it was almost impossible to talk, such was the roar of the headwind - you only knew someone was talking to you because they were pointing their head in your direction and flapping their mouth. A lot of snot would get blown out your nose and although it was fun for about 20 seconds, lost it's charm after about 30. Communications stopped and we trudged on until everything went a bit sepia and we descended into the lee of the hill and a small amount of respite.
Talking resumed briefly and we all agreed that the last section was a bit harsh. Roly and I were suffering and we watched team Dunbar push on ahead. Roly has been doing 80 mile weeks since December (although more flat stuff than hill training,) and my excuse was I was tired after doing 33 two days previous. We both found the hills testing and I was glad to have a companion keen to match my restricted pace.
I wish I'd payed a bit more attention to the off ramp out the maze of the wind farm roads. The next bit on trails was top quality and the trees gave some wind shade. It was a photo Stuart posted from around these parts a few months ago that was the inspiration behind a wander near here done by Lucy and myself. Good to be finally tracking down the trail in question although we had come at it from the other side.
The snow would appear in patches and then, without much reference to altitude just stop all of a sudden like a line on the ground.
While on the subject of footwear, this was perhaps the only section that let the route down. 200 yards of shit and piss stomped into an ankle deep slurry with no way round. I don't think we can give Nick too hard a time for it, despite him saying "road shoes/hokas will be fine - there are very few muddy bits on the route; more single track and trails." For the rest of the route you could have worn satin pumps but you would have had to bin them after this stink-fest. When I took off my shoes at home 4 hrs later Mary nearly passed out with the smell of animal by product. Had to rinse out the socks before putting them into the machine. Don't think the Hokas will ever be the same.
The culprits. Instead of looking shame faced they looked more like they were squaring up for a pagger.
Gifford to Duns motorway.
A couple of hundred yards on this superhighway then a left turn back into the hills.
Again the Dunbar Duo got ahead of the Porty Posse.
I meant to take some video to show the strength of the wind. Up here it was howling again (blowing from left to right) and everything was leaning over. We found some wind shade behind the trees for a quick pit stop and snack.
This next section, again in snow, was one of the best with a pleasant gradient down through the trees on not-too-slippy snow.
Eventually the coast appears again.
We were running in this formation when Roly out front suddenly took a b-i-g one footed slide, somehow staying on his feet while the three of us behind hit the grass before he even had time to shout 'BLACK ICE'. Nice wee surge of adrenaline to carry us home.
Bye bye Stuart.