February has been loaded with excellent running. Cold bright days with plenty of atmospheric wintry sun. So put on an extra layer of merino and warm gloves and get out there! I have been so busy running it has taken till now to blog this splendid day out, back on Saturday 17th, doing the NB Circuit, one of my all time favourite local runs.
view out the dirty train window
There is a great sense of anticipation sitting on the train. I have a backpack with sufficient drink and food in it for any size of adventure, and as many hours as required to do the 17 or 18 miles. There are a few different options and although I often start with a quick hike up and down the Law (and it does look tempting in the sun) I decided to miss it this time in favour of leaving more time to mess about in Binning woods and at Balgone. I have a wild hope it might just about be warm and still enough to coax out a hibernating butterfly, the first of the year. Reports are coming in, from as near as the Borders, of Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells stirring from their Winter slumbers.
I usually just ignore the garlic translations of place names. But I noticed this one on the station sign, and had some passing thoughts about it. I assumed Tuath was North, and wondered if that was related to the slightly derogatory term Teuchter, lowland Scots for a rural highlander. Well maybe a bit but not really. Some stuff here. I also thought you'd have to be a total wanker to ever call North Berwick Bearaig a Tuath.
Bearaig a Tuath Law
And it turned out brilliant that I didn't climb NB Law as I might have missed Roly. 10mins or less down the JMW and here comes Roly ON HIS BIRTHDAY in the opposite direction. Hail fellow well met. We must have stood for 20mins discussing all things running, and nearly coming to the conclusion we should do the S Cuthbert's Way ultra. Roly had been going over in his head that race vs the Great Glen Ultra, as I have too recently. Although my head was mostly full of butterflies and not much else. Roly suspected he had seen a white one or possibly a poly bag. On reflection I think most likely the latter, as there are 4 or 5 butterflies (and no whites) that overwinter in the imago (the rest as caterpillars or eggs) and it would only be an adult emerging from sleep due to the warm sun and in search of a feed that you would see as late winter outliers.
heading to NB co-op
That wall Roly is running past is a summer hot spot for Tortoiseshells and Peacocks sunbathing. But what wind there was, was hitting it in a way that would discourage anyone from hanging about there. There would be more shelter at Balgone pond and Binning Woods. Well yes, but precious little wildlife. The light was so good however, that you could take photos of nearly any dried up winterised shrub by the wayside and what with the bokeh etc. have a masterpiece. Nearly.
lots of maintenance had been going on here
making for attractive views through to the pond and shed over the other side
A couple of miles on and I thought they must be cooking up a brew at Stink Farm. However the honk of fertilizer lessened approaching the farm and I thought it might be coming out the back of this tractor (above). It was mighty bad, and I was glad to be heading away from it and into the grounds of the Mansion House. I always follow the trail round to the left of the Mansion House and so this time, feeling inclined to adventure decided to go right. I reckoned at worst it would mean following the field perimeter until I met up with the usual path again.
Although the land reform act gives us responsible access there can be real hazards.
This dude with gun over shoulder was haunting the fields nearby.
So I was taking a moment to scope out the possible options when I feel (and hear) a scurry right at my feet. A huge hare (the size of a beagle) lolloped out from where it must have been snoozing and either brushed past my legs or pushed down the grass which brushed my legs. I emitted a number of sexual swear words and blasphemies all rolled into one while getting my camera up, though it was half a field away before I got a picture of it in it's large furry slippers. It didn't even move at top speed - perhaps it had seen my pace earlier and judged me to be no viable threat.
large furry slippers
the field alternative gave better perspectives of the Mansion House
tufted ducks not playing
I stopped at the Newbyth pond. Its just over a third of the way round and the picnic table is handy for a snack and to see if you can lure over any ducks or geese. I had brought bread to feed them but nobody came over and I ended up eating a slice myself instead. It went very well with the protein bar.
my snack bar has a doctorate
my what big teeth you have
more weeds and bokeh
My first ever Spotted Wood was spotted in Newbyth Woods and I was fondly remembering this as I ran through and across the road into Binning Woods. I was beginning to realise there wouldn't be any butterflies today, and hoping their absence wouldn't detract from a lovely day out.
To start with in Binning I followed trails into the centre that I knew. I had fun taking photos of the sun peaking out from behind a tree and causing prisms of light in the branches and twigs off to the side. It was dazzling trying to shoot into the sun although I didn't realise the results were so psychedelic until I got home. I then went off piste and enjoyed getting lost on the many trails and tracks criss-crossing the woods. I exited bottom left to take the road up towards the log cabin.
The only thing in flower in the woods was the gorse and snowdrops. This meant there was little reason for butterflies to emerge, and very little to feed on. So I was, I realised, just looking for the idiots of the butterfly world. And it proved to be that the only idiot of the butterfly world out there today was (spoiler alert) me.
the view from the log cabin
I ran along the beach from the log cabin to the Peffer Burn. From there I followed the concrete road to Seacliff and back up to the main road into NB. I realised that if I really upped my game I might sprint the last 4 miles and make the train. But decided to take it easy instead which gave me time to stop and take photos of a very handsome sheep and the sun going down behind the Law. Despite the lack of butterflies it was an excellent day out and confirmed the route as one of my favourites of all time. I am looking forward to chasing the spotted woods later in the year.
sundog on road up from Seacliff
17.6 excellent miles