Sunday, 8 January 2017

fishing for ham

Saturday we did the Gullane thing. Very little to tell as it was low cloud and grey. Falko's was closed and we tried the Gannet Deli as an option. It was fine (and cheaper) and lifted Mary's mood which was tired and grey as well. By halfway round she was gibbering nonsense (normal service resumed). There were wagtails. But no great photos so maybe we will skip right to Sunday.

Paxton (Borders Series XC) was on but neither of us fancied travelling all that way for 4 miles so we wimped out and did nearly 10 of the high top Pentland miles instead, getting some C5 damage limitation in. Again low cloud but the novelty of being here cheered us both up. We used to come here every weekend but a few years ago traded that in for the East Lothian coastline. Nice to come back - like visiting old friends.

Old friends who make you gasp and stagger that is. Never easy doing the long climbs, but the temps were mild and the wind gentle. Not a bad re-introduction. And the more of this we do the less bad that dreadful race will be. A few pals are doing direct recces of the C5 course. I don't understand that at all since it is about the least nice part of these hills. You would never say show me the best 6 miles of the Pentlands and expect THAT. Much more likely to find yourself doing pretty much what we did today. Only we did half as much again because we were having such a good time.

But could all the people who are filling the Flotterstone car park just, ahem, go elsewhere. I'm assuming it's a new-year-resolution thing and within a week or 2 will return to normal. It was jammed with cars circling for spaces like vultures. You certainly don't see that many folk over the summits. In which case take a walk round Lochend Park or even Holyrood. In this weather you wouldn't notice the difference. 

More Suunto stories. First a shout out to Pascal who emailed to tell me how to toggle between Nav and Exercise. Thanks Pascal! Haven't tried it yet but it sounds about right. Next up I thought I'd check the accuracy of the altitude setting. The above photo is of the trig point on Scald Law. Or rather the Ordnance Survey Bench Mark S1579. At first I thought that number might be the height but as I'm sure I don't need to tell you Scald Law is 579m or 1899feet though I have seen it rounded up to 1900. Mr Suunto however rounded it up to 1959ft. 60ft extra. Hmmm. Carnethy, Turnhouse and Black Hill were also between 40 and 62 feet out and not consistently the same height out but always greater. 

Mary said something about science being an inexact science. Possibly in response to me (not complaining but) pointing out Mr. Suunto regularly gave me different amounts of ascent to descent over circular routes where I returned to the same point (car etc.) You'd think there would be a wee line of programme in the software that says if you finish at the start, then round off the one to match the other as I can't imagine a circumstance that would allow for different figures. Unless of course you enter the wormhole on South Black Hill that travels directly to Black Hill; why else did you think they were named as such? Today was closer than most: 3330' up and 3325' down. Really only the difference of a strong coffee or 2.

I had said to Mary one of the few things I missed going from Garmin to Suunto was the "lap" details. A mile-by-mile breakdown of pacing. Mary (who enjoys such challenges) helped me sort this out which is done on the Movescount website rather than on the watch. She/we also set the auto-pause function as I am not smart enough to pause the watch while taking a photo. OK I can do that, but inevitably will forget on the third occasion to re-start it. It's good to know your limitations.

an unsuccessful Skyline competitor from last year

After doing some high tops on the South Ridge (Turnhouse, Carnethy and Scald Law) we descended, ran past the Howe and along to Black Hill. Since we had been round the back just the other day and hadn't been over the top in a while we opted for the summit. Back into the cloud. At the very top there was a fishing rod set up. Which was strange as it's quite a cast to get into the nearest body of water. It was supported by 2 trekking poles and I guessed correctly that its owner was nearby. I put my finger to my lips at Mary to stop the stream of invective flowing freely at the sight of such a bizarre contraption. She hadn't seen the fisherman tucked under a lip of peaty heather out the wind and humidity. It wasn't raining but you wouldn't have been able to dry washing either. He was pleased to have curious company and told me (as I guessed) that he was fishing for radio signals. (Ham not trout.) His enthusiasm was impressive. He had been there sat on his insulated mat for 90 minutes. I was feeling the chill after 30 seconds and Mary pretty much saw he hadn't caught anything sizable and set off across the Black Hill plateau. No shortage of eau in that plateau. Soaking feet all round.

I tried to get the grey matter active and ask all the questions I would later think of. How distant was the reception area? Lisbon and Dresden. What was the standard language? Morse and in English. 

Mary was slightly more scathing: "Did you tell him about the internet? And Skype?"

He was very jolly and said he couldn't do hill running because of... (I anticipated a runner's injury here) amounts of subcutaneous fat. There are contradictions in coming to one of the most remote and desolate points near Edinburgh to contact folk. To be at once solitary and have a hobby that has to have as an absolute necessity, others of the same ilk. And, as Mary pointed out, to have recourse to an outmoded methodology and language to achieve what would be mundane and domestic in a domestic setting. It's like going to the moon in a 1930s sci-fi film. And equally romantic. He seemed to be enjoying his outing just as much as we were ours.

Coming down to Maiden's Cleugh from Bell's Hill
we briefly met this dude who was excellent and friendly.

Plenty of wet mud and stony ground to keep things focussed on this path back to the side of the reservoir. Mary was enjoying herself and trying to keep the pace going all the way to the car park. Bumped into Madeleine just before the car park. She was walking rather than running. Drove home for scrambled eggs. Man I could eat a scrambled horse.

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