Wednesday, 9 May 2018

bike swim bike

Sunday and we decided to cycle (inland via Haddington) to Pressmennan lake, swim there, then cycle home via the coast. The weather was really warm, it was like a lovely Summer day after all the cold days of April and a reluctant Spring. It felt unusual to go out the door wearing just a t-shirt, and I took a warmer top and jacket just in case. (Didn't use them.)

This goldfinch left its perch just as I took the shot

Really steep hill up to Cousland looks flat in this photo

these 2 pics for Caitlin.

I love the road leaving Cousland, suddenly you are out in the countryside, cruising between fields to the sound of birdsong with lots of downhills and pleasant small roads to Ormiston. I noticed Hadfast Nature Reserve and made a mental note to return and have a look about.

NB Law and Hopetoun Monument on the horizon.

I think it was round about here I was mansplaining how to anticipate a hill by shifting down a few gears before you are half-way up a steep climb in a high gear with huge pressure on the pedals and veins pumping on your temple. (Words of wisdom falling on deaf ears.) And yet it probably wasn't the last time that day a chain under massive torque was asked to flip over a couple of cogs.

Ormiston: stand around like that in this weather 
and Cockburn will be more than just the name of the hall.

saw these on the wire and took a potshot with the camera
as we zoomed past

We knew the Loft Cafe in Haddington was closed on a Sunday so took ourselves to the Waterside. It had the advantage of outdoor tables, a place to park bikes right beside our table and pretty views of the river. The disadvantage was just about everything else: overpriced, oversalted underachieving soup with not enough (boring white) bread and very little charm.

We headed out the Haddington Half route but kept on the road along past Traprain Law. Just marvellous: the smell of rapeseed, sun blasting down and blue skies with white fluffy clouds. 

Traprain Law Hill Race comes up this trail

This was a long hellish climb. Doesn't look like it though

the way out, 30.59m

the way back, 30.65m

When we arrived at Pressmennan Woods I wanted to walk the circuit up the hill and back down to the lakeside path. Mary felt we should just stick to the swimming part and encouraged me to realise the best course of action was, as usual, to agree. And so the walking part was postponed. I did come across a rather splendid Comma sunbathing near the path.

♥ ,,,

lakeside beach

Pressmennan is an artificial reservoir constructed in 1819. It is one of the few bodies of water in Scotland known as lakes; the others include the Lake of Menteith, Lake of the Hirsel and Lake Louise. 

The little beach makes for a decent entry point but I would recommend swim-shoes or wetsuit socks/booties as there is a soupy mix of foliage, weeds and sump oil underfoot as you progress out, and it benefits to lift feet from the bed ASAP. Mary (in her shorty wetsuit) was slow to immerse, the water still being refreshingly cool, and possibly hanging around the tree stumps too much, picked up a visitor in leech form, which she was quick to shake off with a shudder. Other than that it was idyllic, the sun dazzling off the water while passers-by waved hello from the path.

A couple of them asked for what were we diving, mistaking my full body cover for scuba gear. Mary felt their suspicions were based on some terrible local secret like maybe a building down there, submerged in 1819 was full of valuables, or dead bodies, or both. Visibility was about a yard max.

We both emerged from the water feeling much better. The factory reset works every time.

leech bait

After all that joy we jumped on the bikes and headed back home. A couple of miles along the way Mary said she could feel her face burning and could she stop and put on sun block. It was in the depths of my pannier and I had to unpack everything, the wetsuits and towels, to find it. So it was either at that point or back at the leech beach that I left my U-lock, possibly in the grass by the side of my bike meaning to pick it up and repack it, but never quite doing so. That's what happens when the sun comes out! Anyway that particular chapter isn't finished just yet and I look forward to some resolve, perhaps tomorrow. Fingers crossed. Anyway there is still 30 miles to cycle. Weirdly although we went there and back on radically different routes they both turned out nearly identical distances of 30.59miles and 30.65miles. 

This time we went South of Trap Law, not quite by intention, but it worked out fine.

When we crossed the bridge again at Haddington it had a very English look about it, the church, the boat, the row of white houses and people paddling. Normally in Scotland (or rather in Leith) on a late afternoon on a sunny day you'd expect a broken bottle of Buckfast and 2 guys fighting while a large female with sunburnt cleavage shouts he's nae wurth it!

Had it been up to me I would have taken the cyclepath to Longniddry but Mary again made it clear her bike was a road bike and would be staying on the road, and in particular, the road up the hill past the Hopetoun Monument and over to Aberlady. I was welcome to join her or take the cyclepath if I wanted. 

In Aberlady the shop was shut so we had some non-alcoholic drinks (it was almost too hot for beer) sat outside the pub. Very delicious! I kept the ice and put it in my bottle along with water for the last 15 miles home, into the wind.

Oh I almost forgot! At the lights at Prestonpans Lidl, a woman cyclist, seeing us coming up behind, dawdled, then as I went past, drafted my back wheel. I didn't really notice or pay much attention to it but it didn't go unnoticed by Mary! A bit along the road and Mary came zooming past at a speed I was both impressed by and hard pushed to keep up with. It took a while to realise this was a breakaway move and it worked very efficiently. Didn't see anymore of the blonde, who was left well behind.

Another superb day out.

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