Sunday, 24 January 2016

the great alpaca hunt

quick quiz: where is this?
(answer is not the mid-seventies, that's just the artistic filter.)

Very much in the tradition of the great snake hunt and the great owl hunt today's blog title was suggested by Steve, when towards the end of the run it was fast becoming apparent that Nick had sold us a turkey and there would be no alpacas (domesticated species of S American Camelid.) (I didn't even know camels had lids.) However that was about the only downside of an excellent guided tour of the East of Dunbar that Nick laid on.

Towards the end of the week Mary reminded me she was parachuting into a weekend Gestalt course and would not be available for the usual running delights. I gathered the weekend's remaining options together to see if I could build something larger than the parts. (Gestalt based joke.) Steve, Nick and Lucy were on board and Nick came up with a suitable out and back circuit (aprox 20miles) heading along the coast from Sunny Dunny, just as soon as he could abandon his parental responsibilities. We set off from Hallhill at noon.

The weather has definitely warmed up. The snow is pretty much gone from the hills. And Mary, returning from her so-early-it's-still-dark run said she over-dressed. (Those are warm pyjamas.) First up the twin pleasures of the cement factory and Barns Ness lighthouse. I always think of the cement factory as a firm friend (hoho) because the only time I am running (Blue) circles around it is at the Borders XC. Similarly Barns Ness Lighthouse. However this building has been redundant since 2005 and now just shuffles around the beach perimeter with its hands in its pockets.

We did a few beach miles as the paths and trails were still flooded. Given the trails are on sandy well draining soil it shows the extent of the water levels.

Just minutes before Torness is Skateraw. As kids we did not go on many holidays but one year we spent an idyllic week in a holiday cottage here (one of the row of four, left of the barns.) As a result I have very strong memories of running barefoot down the stony path (now tarmac-ed) to the beach (below) to hunt for fossils. I can't imagine the building of Torness immediately next door helped Skateraw - you can probably rent the same cottage for about the same price as we paid in the 70s. But the sea might be warmer.

It would be reckless and irresponsible to use a filter to
convey the notion of improperly contained radiation here.

industrial pallor

biggest dead thing of the day

Steve: did you get a photo of the seal?
Me: yes but I don't think it will make wildlife photographer of the year.

smallest dead thing of the day

This photo wrongly makes this beauty spot look more like a sewage outflow.

The path we were following was in places waymarked as John Muir but in other parts left us stranded and rockhopping along pebble beaches. We weren't in a hurry so it was all good fun but was quite hard going resulting in a weariness over the latter miles.

There's a hairy chap in bed in here with pointy ears and long teeth.

delightful gate near Cove

Memorial to the widows and children of Cove following the 1881 fishing disaster.

Now where does this tunnel lead?

You pop out into this exquisite bay / harbour. 

I have been along the clifftop walks between Cove and Coburnspath a couple of times but have never gone through the tunnel and into this charming bay. The water in the harbour looked very inviting and I will certainly be back for a swim once things warm up. The harbour is like a brilliant 100m pool and the neighbouring coastline looks intriguing. Watch this space.

So in answer to the question at the top of the page, this is Cove. 

There was a bearded dude living in the house at the end and I guess his patience probably wears thin with tourists coming past asking stupid questions. He probably isn't a huge fan of open water swimming and someone mentioned there were maybe incidents of discouraging boats from the harbour. 

After Cove we headed inland. Lots of bridges. Next up was a detour past Dunglas Collegiate Church, another gem I was not familiar with. They do weddings here and it has a strange but interesting indoors/outdoors feel with pews, candles and carpet in the otherwise doorless, windowless ruins. The stone slab roofing must be watertight. There was something Marie Celeste about the place which is funny because it is not a ship and not abandoned. It is refreshing to see a building like this open to the winds but un-vandalised. If this was on Leith Links it would be graffitied past head height and there would a line of dog turds down the carpet.

door widened for fat brides

There then followed a lot of tough road miles - up hill and into the wind. It was difficult to believe the wind was in our faces along the coast on the way out and even more in our faces as we returned and slogged up the hills on the way back. Nick mentioned Alpacas and pigs as treats in store but then a slightly wrong turn (no pigs) and an absence of Alpacas nearly threw the team into revolt. Lucy went a bit quiet as her 20miles from the previous day along with overly snug trail shoes began to take their toll along with headwinds and hills. The emergency rescue was instigated and about a mile or 2 from Nick's house Jo turned up in the car and either saved the day or forced a dnf depending on your point of view. It was not a Tyncastle Bronze so nothing was lost and we did do well over the 20 miles. 

One for a future TB run

Big thanks to Nick who took us past a couple of great points of interest. I was very impressed with Cove and am looking forwards to a trip there in swimming weather. It is always better to do a run like that with someone who has local knowledge and can show you special places like the church etc. To make up for the lack of Alpacas we went back to Nick's for coffee and were introduced to Roo who is a handbag sized Mini Pincer (as opposed to Doberman) and just about as cute as something can be. A great day out in great company.

Thanks Jo for taking photo

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