Monday, 8 May 2017

no butterfly

On Friday the weather was too good to be painting so I biked up to the Pentlands in search of butterflies. I packed the wetsuit into a panier to go for a swim in Threipmuir. The partially cryptic title above lets you know I didn't get anything more than a glimpse of any lepidoptera and even less swimming. I also got lost. Here's how it panned out. 

after the flat section of the Rigg Race

I happened to be re-reading the first ever Tynecastle Bronze run led by Graham H where "after doing the flat section of the Rigg Race we continued straight at the bend and got this delightful trail which is waymarked. Lots of butterflies." Time to revisit that then. I charged the camera battery in anticipation and biked the hour across town in the nearly glorious weather. I say 'nearly' because although the sky was blue there was a chill East wind blowing especially once I got into the hills.

At least there was time today to stop for lamby photos.

The path (above) was ok, good running but slow lumpy cycling. I knew it turned left on a decent trail after a bit and seeing an early left option through a field of logged and burned trees thought I'd cleverly anticipate and join the decent trail. I then crossed another field in search of same but it only got worse. I was now off my bike and pushing it through tussocky fields of mothering sheep, looking like I might be a cattle rustler or pervert. There was a farm to my left which I avoided like the plague, and NO sign of decent trails nearby. I had by now swung my bike (with full panier) over several barbed wire fences and was reluctant to retrace my steps. At each further obstacle I wished I had, but clambered over that and then became even more committed to going ahead rather than back. Things deteriorated to the point I climbed up and stood on a fence post to get the best possible view of nearby roads. There were none. I went to the far end of the field and climbed more barbed wire and pushed my bike along the perimeters of uncyclable fields, now having a miserable time.

On the far distant horizon I saw a road. It led to a farmhouse and in case they had been watching my progress through their fields, wondering (like I was) just what the hell I was up to, I eventually got to the road and went in the other direction. I think this might have been the road I was originally looking for that Graham took us through the Pentlands on, but by now I was just wanting to return to the familiar ground of Balerno and Threipmuir. I did see one butterfly during all this, but it flew off before I got close. I shouted dogs abuse at it and would have happily stomped it into the ground if I could have got close.

After cycling for a couple of miles in what seemed the wrong direction all that was going through my head was "where the flip am I?" I turned left at a junction when I should have turned right and ended up at the bus terminal rather than halfway through the Rigg Race meaning I had to cycle up the steep hill to Red Moss for the second time. It was all a bit groundhog day. I padlocked my bike in the woods and walked the boardwalk round Red Moss. It is one of my favourite places and with the sun beating down I nearly returned to less agitated mood. However there was only one flighty butterfly there and athough I left the boards to chase it through the swamp and trees never got close enough to identify it, never mind any photos. 

I think I read some stuff about the vegetation there: that the lowered water table allows the heathers to dominate so they were doing what they could to engineer more swamp which would let the sphagnum mosses flourish. The bog cotton is just beginning to appear - in a month it will be even more spectacular. The stiff breeze was keeping the wildlife indoors though. And by the time I returned to my concealed bike I doubted I had the enthusiasm for a nice cold dip in Threipmuir.

I was right. In fact I was a bit cold cycling home into the chilly wind until I got onto lower ground. It felt like a bit of a wasted trip, although it did save my legs for the longer run on Sunday. I ended up cycling 31 miles, about 11 by accident. The deep blue of the reservoirs was lovely but spoke of baltic temps. Nice to see the rapeseed fields at Harlaw.

A: first lap and along the Rigg Race middle 2 miles
B: onto the Carlops walking path
C: I'm bored and so clever I think I can turn left and find a short cut
F: I'm totally F'ed
D: after a lot of walking through fields, throwing in the towel
E: possibly where I wanted to be
G: where the flip am I (should have turned right, instead turned left)
A: second lap Deja vu.

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