Friday, 15 April 2016

Alternative John Muir Way

I did this Carnethy social run 3 years ago and really enjoyed it. Video here. I have been waiting for it to happen again but I think Keith the organiser has been busy winning age group titles in cycling and running races so much that he missed a few years. Then, a couple of months back, he asked if anyone would be interested in an AJMW. Around 20 signed up for the day out which is a cycle and run combo down the coast from Aberlady to Tyninghame beach then over to East Linton for lunch at Keith's house, then up the Tyne, through the Garleton Hills to the Hopetoun Monument, then back to Aberlady. About 30~35 miles round trip Some run the whole way, some cycle, there are no rules, and everyone has a brilliant day out. 

I asked Gio to stop at the Aberlady War Memorial
 in order to make this outing a Tynecastle Bronze.

I got a lift to Aberlady from Gio. Nice to catch up with Gio. Normally this would have happened a couple of weeks ago at the very enjoyable Whisky Chaser, another Carnethy beano, involving as many whiskies as miles. Much as I have enjoyed it in the past I deliberately opted out as I felt there was no need to grease the slippery slope ahead of my acceleration down it.

Although there is plentiful eating and drinking on this trip there are over 30 miles. We all gathered in Aberlady and stood around in the cold until about 9.10 when we headed across the footbridge to enchantment. Optimistically I didn't even carry a waterproof jacket and sure enough although a grey start, the weather improved all day.

About North Berwick the sun came out and the sky cleared.

Big ship, wee boats.
We saw a group of kayakers in the bay

Bassington Rock!

We followed the beaches and coastal paths where possible. The tide was out, way out, and although we may have been able to get round the beach at Tantallon, I think Keith enjoys leading the troops through the grounds of Tantallon ducking into ditches to avoid Historic Scotland gestapo and the entry fee.

Alan taking photos
His set here

Last time we descended from the cliffs above Seacliff,
this time the low tide allowed us to take a ramp down to the bay before.

There's those kayakers again - and Joanne and Jamie Thin,
who survived riding the surf into the bay.

interesting geology

Peffer Burn, despite the low tide was uncrossable with dry feet. I noticed a couple of folk take off their shoes and so I followed suit. The water was extremely refreshing and so myself and Mark J who was now pretty much naked apart from his running pants, ran about a mile along the beach carrying shoes. We had talked about a dip and so it seemed pointless to put shoes back on.

Was the water cold? YES, VERY! Ask Mark H - I think he got up to chest depth and backed off at that. Gio was first in. I had been impressed by his immersion 3 years ago and so brought extra shorts and a "camping towel" about a metre square of felt that doesn't really rub the water off you very well but on the upside does fold down small. Mark J reckoned a pertex glove did just as well. The dip freshened up tired legs although it's always troublesome getting socks back on and I had a wrinkle in one I didn't get ironed out until East Linton. Worth nicking Mary's water-proof camera for....

Gio sets the bar.

Mark J


From Tyninghame we crossed Binning Wood and then through Smeaton to Keith's house. I would have taken an alternative route to the straight line on from Limetrees Walk, (photo above) had I known how muddy it was. I managed to keep my feet dry but they were caked in mud by lunchtime.

Lunch was spectacular - of course it helps to run 20 miles immediately before, but the soup was just about the best I'd ever tasted and I had at least 2 cups of Lentil and Ham. Lots of bread and cheese and loads of homebakes and cakes afterwards. I packed a fair bit down as I had got through my morning collection of sports bars and treats and was concerned I'd run out of pm snacks. Big thanks to Barbel for providing a feast and also the grand-daughters(?) Kara and Heidi who gave us all name badges and served it up between doing cartwheels on the lawn.

Having handicapped myself by eating a huge lunch, I found the next few miles heavy going. There were only 3 of us ran the second half, Alan H, Mark H and myself. However we were all equally matched and so proved a good team, managing to keep up with the bikes along the riverside trails up the Tyne (as featured in the Traprain Law Hill race.) Mark set a blistering pace and I was regretting having 2 tops on. The sun had gone in a bit but I was sweating and there wasn't really any let up until the turn off. I managed to get a top off and into my pack and felt better for it. We had lost the bikes - I think they went a longer tarmac route - while we did some corner cutting across some fields. As we climbed out on the other side the bikes came past, and allowed us to catch up and regroup at the next corner where we all went off road and headed up up up.  

I relished chasing the bikes - there is a certain gradient where it is almost as fast on foot as on bike and I enjoyed racing them up and across the Garleton Hills, heading for the Hopetoun Monument. I think the bikes had a couple of regroups and being only 3 runners we took advantage and headed up to the monument and climbed to the top while the bikes were still making slow progress across the fields which require a couple of fence/gate climbs.

We headed down the steep dark steps (note to self - take a headtorch next time) before the first of the bikers started up the tower. Didn't fancy meeting them halfway down the narrow poorly lit circular stone staircase. We then legged it, knowing the handful of miles down to the coast would favour the bikers. Mark navigated and the route choice owed more to hubris than the countryside code - crossing fields not because there was a path there but because that was where we wanted to go. We didn't bump in to any angry farmers and it proved a good straight line to the motor museum, Luffness and back to Aberlady. And we beat the bikers! Although they were taking it fairly leisurely I think.

Having the Garmin on auto-pause and at times going too slowly to record movement, showed I'd done 32 miles whereas Alan recorded a mile more than that and Mark yet another mile further. With added distance to meet Gio and walk home from drop off I'd say I did about 35 miles.

Splendid day out and huge thanks to Keith for organising and having us all traipse into his house for lunch. The man acts like he was 20 years younger than he is and seemed to be enjoying the day out as much as any of us. Top marks and can't recommend highly enough. Thanks Keith!
Keith's report here

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