Friday, 10 March 2017

NB Circuit

Wednesday I finished the week's work and noticed that Thursday's forecast was all day sunshine. I decided to save my legs and not risk a session at club - haven't been there since the housemaids knee. I opted for the North Berwick Circuit, pretty much my favourite trails around East Lothian, starting and finishing at the NB train station. Caught the 10.43. Normally on such a forecast I'd be knocking out a TB 30miler but given my longest recent run was 13 last weekend, and I felt tired after that, I thought it best to stick to 18. (Plus up and down to/from Waverley.)

Jumped off the train and straight up NB Law as a warm up. I tried not to waste too much time here, although the crisp air and clear views were inspiring. I had, ahem, 2 cameras and both were out to snap the nearby islands and the further away. Fidra always looks tantalisingly close to shore from here and that swim is on my list of things to do. Craigleith not so much. Bass Rock, uh-uh.



Bassington Rock

Isle of May

they appear to be building a space shuttle on the Isle of May

Back down the Law and out the JMW. A couple of dog-walkers but otherwise the place to myself. I dodged off the path at Balgone to go round the curling pond and up the hill to the large house. The bullrushes were in fluffy sausage mode and there were a dozen small ducks and moorhen on the pond. The sunshine was fab, and though muddy in places the paths weren't all that bad; only a few yards of tiptoeing round ankle deep splosh. (I was wearing road shoes as the new Clifton 3s are extremely comfy and well cushioned to reduce impact on dodgy knees. Brought them home reasonably unspoiled by swamp.)

Going up the path that climbs the opposite side of the pond I glimpsed a green pheasant scurrying into the undergrowth. I have spent 20mins stalking these elusive creatures before and know them to be a good deal more cunning than their orange cousins (or me). There is a feeder on this trail and I had a look around the bushes there, but nada. Then further up the hill a couple more squawked and dashed out onto the path, one retreating, the other crossing the path and ducking into the undergrowth. It was still squatting low under the rhododendrons (dappled sunlight glinting off deep green oily feathers) when I drew level but zipped off like roadrunner before I got the camera up. They are just like the orange pheasants (surely the dimmest birds on the planet) but with dark green and turquoise plumage making them look more like peacocks. 

I left the John Muir Way at Stink Farm and headed towards the old mansion house.

this one had a lot to say

giving me the evils

I stopped just before the 8 mile mark at Newbyth pond where there is a picnic table. I did some goose whispering (shouting "c'mon geeses! dinner's up" while throwing bread into the water.) I ate a sandwich while being scorned by the greylags who weren't prepared to come onshore to be photographed like they did last time. Oh well, please yourselves.

I doubted there would be any butterfly action today, a bit early in the season and too windy. But I thought if anywhere it would be in the sheltered spots of Newbyth (Speckled Woods) or Binning Woods (Commas, Fritillary etc.). Not a sign of a flutter anywhere, although plenty of birds singing and flitting about in the trees.

Selfie taken not (just) for the sheer vanity but to remind me what I was wearing. Two things, it was flippin cold, especially 5 mins after stopping for a snack. 2 tops and a backpack. And shorts. I was wearing tights for a bit to keep the knee warm but it seems nothing makes it either better or worse. Sunglasses-and-gloves weather which is nearly my favourite conditions for running. Weirdly I went through the .75 litre of juice much quicker than normal. Some winter runs I don't bother with any fluids for maybe 2~3hrs but today I realised early on I didn't have enough and even considered a diversion to East Linton to pick up a red bull and water. I had forgotten to get caffeined up and could have done with a boost beyond 12 miles.

And the other thing: despite the sun being out the big camera was refusing to focus on anything closer than about 4ft (a meter and a half.) (see above). This is a real pain and it is going to get kicked into touch (or replaced with a TZ100) if it doesn't have a think to itself.

I never tire of Binning Woods. The birds are singing, the place is empty and the trails are excellent. A couple of swampy places you have to watch your feet but when the sun is shining it is just the best. I got behind the dude in the digger and he wasn't long in looking over his shoulder, spotting I was there and stopping to let me past. I gave him the thumbs up before going along to the biggest hub, out the other side and across the road to Limetrees Walk.

cat among the wood pigeons

This notorious gate twanged my ankle badly a couple of years ago as I stepped off the tarmac to get a pic of it. Always careful since.

how much is that birdnest in the window?
(offers over £500,000 apparently)

while hunting around the www came across this lovely aerial photo;
property looks a bit knackered, but interesting project if we win the euro millions

The last few times here I have got bored with the long path that eventually leads down to the beach. Preferring instead to head into the trees and try to bushwack a line more Northerly than East. This time I did the full path down to the beach and was reminded that the trail turning left/West round the coast is totally fab...

For once the route was open below the rocky prominence and I was going to run along the beach between the rock and sea till I remembered the view from the top of the outcrop far exceeds the pain of climbing it. I shuffled up the sandy steps from the beach feeling a bit tired by now. The damaged knee complained a bit. It wasn't a sharp pain, more like just 8 miles more tired than the other one. After about a dozen miles the general ache outpaced the knee-pain and the ouch equalized. (I haven't trained properly for 3 or 4 weeks now and tire sooner.) I had forgotten to take paracetamols with me and from around here onwards there was quite a background noise of weariness. However it was hard to hear it over the rush of the wind in my ears. I had thought it might be better to run the route in reverse doing the exposed beach with a tailwind, (inland and more sheltered into the wind) but since I haven't been round this way in a while I wasn't sure I wouldn't mess up certain turn-offs and so faced the last 6 miles of headwind, with a good measure of sandblasting. Hey but I had the beach nearly to myself!

Spirits were lifted at Seacliff. It is more a small settlement than a village, a few houses nestled together with kids bikes and scooters abandoned outside houses and I would imagine doors left unlocked, the last outpost down a long road that peters out - effectively a cul-de-sac. Anyway I was running though there and a butterfly, a Small Tortoiseshell bobbed along on the blustery breeze. It rose to fly over the orange roof of a cottage then changed it's mind and settled on a flower right in front of me. Hurray! I took the one photo below then moved in to closer than 4ft and took about 17 out-of-focus close-ups. (Checking the prices of the TZ100 on Amazon as we speak.) Apart from the photography lesson I was delighted to kick off the year's count. First butterfly of the year!

The trains being an hour apart I aimed roughly for the 3.22 but thought I might have to settle for the 4.25. I had a good idea of terrain (concrete and tarmac) for the last 6 or 7 miles and about an hour to do it. Normally this would be a breeze however the headwind and knee and lack of fitness combined to make for an interesting race. (Had I not been designated driver for my mum's dinner between 5.30 and 6pm, 2.5miles cycle from home, I might have dropped down to the shore at the golf course and trundled along, settling for the 4.25.) I was sucking the last burbling remnants out my reservoir and keen to pop into Tesco's, this side of NB for a long cold drink. As long as I got there around 3pm I felt there was time in hand. However it was 3.06 as I ran past dry mouthed and wheezing and there is about a mile and some, still to get to the station. I didn't risk last minute shopping and sure enough the train was on the platform when I got there at 3.21, pulling out seconds after I jumped on. I had to wait until the last mile home to buy some fluids including a beer to celebrate the longest run since late January and the first butterfly of the year. And pretty much my favourite route of all time.

someone has given this chap a waistcoat since I was last past

Going the longer way produced just over 19 miles here plus 2 to/from Waverley makes 21 in total. And no worsening of the knee. Should be fit for a TB 30 miler before March is done.

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