Wednesday, 16 August 2017

great snake hunt ep.3

photo Mary (with corrections)

It's been a while since I last had a wild goose chase in search of semi-mythical creatures. June 2014 and Steve and I searched the Lammermuirs fruitlessly, then a year later in Sept with Mary we failed to see anything snake-like, also in the Lammermuirs. So a trip to not see adders was long overdue. We chose the same venue, having come so close on previous occasions. Spoiler alert: No snakes!

Some things never change.
Looking at the photos from June 2014 I found this one of Steve (below) virtually a copy of the one above. Essentials for a snake hunt = 1/ eyes peeled, 2/ sunshine; to encourage snakes to bask in full view, 3/ endurance; to be able to endure near continual disappointment and frustration.

and for comparison Sept 2015

I should stick to butterflies

cammo-clad quad-biker with gun out hunting wild joggers

gonna shoot something!

lots of these about today - the nearest to a snake we found

fox moth caterpillar
(only ever see the larvae never the imago)

Mary decided she was only up for Lammer Law summit, not the original plan to go along to the turbines. There were probably whole slithering nests of snakes along at the turbines. You'd almost certainly be kicking them off the path to get past. Never mind, I've always thought there should be reptiles in the rocks of the summit mound on Lammer Law. Maybe there'd be some today. Spoiler alert: no.

wind farm in background: inundated with snakes, possibly

trig point selfie

Not snakes but those other popular beasties, WASPS!

good to see that to cope with the cold summit conditions 
these chaps have worn their hairy jim-jams

I mooched around the dark and sinister ponds looking for toads and frogs.
Almost as many as snakes. Lovely colours of vegetation. But that's your lot.

Distant Pentlands 

more of these

As we were descending back the way we came I told Mary I had 2 requests. By not actually mentioning what the requests were, I was hoping to pique her curiosity but instead we pretty much agreed it was unlikely I'd be getting either.

After a while I broke and told her the first request was to return by the other side of the Hopes Reservoir. I forget who, but someone mentioned it was pretty path and went all the way round. My previous worry was it went halfway and then faded out leaving you to bushwack for a mile or 2 of unpleasantness. The normal road is so nice it seems ungrateful to go searching an alternative. Mary, to my surprise, was up for it.

(The second request, pushing my luck, was to detour East on the drive home past the Wall Brown site of last week so I could chase Walls for better photos. Not a chance in hell of that happening!)

usual path seen from other side of reservoir

A big thanks to whoever recommended the other side. The path was exquisite; although trickier in places (we were both wearing road shoes) muddier and narrow, went through very scenic woods and heathery patches and had lovely views across to the normal track round the reservoir. Also more chance of spotting wildlife. The trees and bracken being good cover for all manner of things. In reality I only saw a couple of butterflies. But there was a sign warning of snakes and I think it was the right sort of ground to find them. Possibly. If they exist.

I chased this one through a lot of heather.
You're welcome.

Nice to get close up to this charming water feature. It was tempting to disprove their spikey discouragements (although presumably the door was locked,) but there were a couple of walkers nearby (who had probably just chased away all the snakes from the premier snakey area down the hill.) There was text carved into the wall about the stone for this embankment being reused from Calton Jail. Unfortunately there are a few signs discouraging swimming. 

And back to (near) the start. No snakes but ten out of ten for scenery and amazing purple heather. A great place for a wild goose chase. Highly recommended.

9 miles

up and down

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