Monday, 30 May 2016

mystical journey to the land beneath the waves

Great weather on Sunday, in fact if you ignore the chill winds, it's almost as if the summer was under way. Great running weather. We drove to Gullane with the wetsuits planning for a swim after a run. Both a bit tired after Saturday's longish run, but happy to see the skies clearing as we left the car around 2pm.

North Face shoe triallers and a couple of imposters
Thanks Lucja for the photo (used without permission!)

First, a quick note about Thursday eve hill reps. It was a filthy evening and I left the flat unsure if I could be bothered. A cold drizzle fell and I had until the end of the road to decide on a short quick 4 miler or the hill reps session. I turned right for Holyrood Park although it was 50/50. I was running late; usually I time it fairly accurately to arrive on the stroke of 7 as I live a mile away and give myself 9 minutes to run up the hill and cross London Road. When I arrived there was nobody at the Octagon. I was 30 secs past the hour and saw a group of runners 100 yards along the road heading towards St Margaret's Loch. Must be them although I was surprised at such a large turnout on a horrible evening. 

I reached the back runner just before the Loch and asked what group this was. The reply (from Avril) was a cheery #never stop edinburgh group doing a road test of some North Face ultra running shoes. But I was welcome to join in. Since I had seemed to have missed the wintervals boat and this group was going for a run anyway I might as well. Jim H had just climbed out his car in St Margarets car park (Holyrood ca park being closed) and I called him across to join the group. He had seen Ross and Anthony and myself but was scratching his head. It'll be fun I said, rather pleased to have a legitimate excuse to miss Thursday evening torture. This was far more pleasant. Our group climbed up Whinny Hill to eventually summit Arthur's Seat. You could only tell there were a couple of imposters by our footwear - Jim and I weren't wearing the North Face shoes. 

I began to feel a wee bit guilty about skiving hill reps and suggested to Jim we skirt round Hunters Bog and see if anyone was there. Olly and Matt (2 mins late to start point) were dutifully doing reps up the steep hill at the end of the Bog and we joined them for the last minute rep. As Jim said afterwards it's surprising how much difference there is between a jolly round the hill done at chatting pace and flat out reps. Sixty seconds and we were both reduced to heaving gasping wrecks. Which is why we do them. Most weeks. It was a pleasure to bump into the North Face group and thanks for having us along and to Lucja for her photo above. People seemed to be giving the shoes the thumbs up - plenty of grip for the trails and wet rock of Holyrood in bright colours.

Onwards and upwards and back to Gullane. Having done some warm up press ups (Mary won - not only doing way more than I did she also made me burst out laughing (obscenities) while I was doing mine,) and visited the toilet block we set off down the path to the beach. We ran past a woman taking her kids down the same path and I thought she looked a lot like Avril. I turned around to check this out and could see she was similarly trying to work out if I was that dodgy guy who joined her group on Thursday. Nice to bump into each other again and as we were chatting this deer popped out the grass nearby. What a difference in weather. The deer bounced away as did Mary and I due to the strong coffee from Falkos. 

Also due to the coffee there was a LOT of senseless yabbering. Mary decided she was going to do sea-personations: marine based show-and-tell mimics of the local residents. I don't think we got much beyond seal and pirate.

It was becoming evident the tide was not just out but FAR out. We were able to run below the usual lines and skirt round the rocks before Aberlady beach. The black velvety covering on the rocks were tiny mussels that made you feel guilty for walking on them. (Checking the tide tables it was not an extravagantly low tide - just we were there right at absolute low tide - about 2.30.) I think it has to be the lowest tide we've experienced. Aberlady beach looked massive and the subs at the far end were a long way from the water.

subs a long way from the sea

The warm day made for heat shimmer and mirages.

powering inland

That may be the remaining pier from Cockenzie on the horizon.

The low water was revealing a number of shipwrecks and remains that aren't usually visible. Way beyond the subs was a thin line line of what I imagined was the remains of a boat. I took a photo on full zoom (above) but the screen was barely visible in the bright sun and assumed I'd find out what is was when we got closer. It looks obvious from the photo above but if you look just right of Mary in the photo below, that was the view we were getting and all I could see was something like a dug-out canoe.

As we got closer all of a sudden the dug-out canoe exploded into the water. It had been a colony of seals and they decided to race into the sea in an explosion of surf and flapping of flippers, lolloping their massive bodies into the safety of the sea. Funny to think how timid they are given they have large heads and an impressive set of teeth. I had been taking photos in the opposite direction and so missed the photo opportunity of the day. By the time I zoomed in they were floating in the shallows keeping an eye on the dangerous interlopers. 

The beach went on and on. Normally we turn around at the subs but today the beach stretched out for what seemed miles more than usual. We would imaging the depth of water above us at high tide. NB Law looked strange and yet familiar. Arthur Seat was a shadow above the haze. I was disappointed there wasn't the bones of fishy dinosaurs and relics from a bygone age. It was just acres of sand all round with mirages on the distant horizons.

The sun reflects off a shiny surface in Edinburgh, hidden by the heat haze.
Or it was a ufo.

About the only thing on all this exposed beach was seaweed.

and of course the subs, this one looking green and clarinetty

Now while the good weather brings out the best in most of us, there's always someone spoiling it! I'm not sure why some folk feel compelled to walk about without clothes. I don't think it is a perversion - it just looks that way to the rest of us. As Mary said, her and I enjoy those freedoms at home (not all the time you understand) and occasionally if there is nobody about we will go for a skinny dip. But Aberlady is a known spot for nudists/naturists and you will get weirdos people in the dunes sans clothes. This dude was looking for a nice spot for a sit down. And knowing how sharp those grasses are it really isn't a place for no shoes or shorts. Nice ponytail.

if you've got it flaunt it!

w i d e s c r e e n


yacht a little too much out of focus.

meanwhile back in St Tropez

This was the map I was looking forward to seeing. Mary's Garmin output showing how far out to sea we had gone. The thing that limited us going any further was the Peffer Burn* which is the same stream that the wooden bridge to enlightenment crosses at the start of the nature reserve. It hugs the coast of Aberlady when the rest of the sea has regressed and would have been possible to cross although the sand was getting a bit swampy over there, so we set sail back along the beach to Gullane. I felt like we had been on a long adventure to a distant land but we had only jogged <7 miles. Great day out though! (We decided that was sufficient and the wet suits stayed dry today.)

*Peffer Burn: I know what you are thinking, isn't Peffer Burn the inlet at Scoughall off Tyninghame Beach where I struggle to keep dry shoes? Well yes. I double checked and the OS maps say both streams either side of East Lothian are called Peffer Burn. Are they one and the same? Probably not although that might be an adventure for another day - to try and follow Peffer Burn inland from Tyninghame then cross Athelstaneford to pick up the other Peffer Burn and follow it to Luffness and Aberlady.

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