Ages ago (Easter Monday) Michelle, Derek and I went on a nature ramble round a few favourite haunts known for their proliferation of butterflies. Michelle had asked for a butterfly tour and Derek had shown interest, so the 3 of us made our way to Dunbar via Derek's car to East Linton and then a short bus ride. We set off in glorious weather leaving Dunbar on the 10 mile multi terrain route under the A1 then up the hill heading South.
From early on it became apparent that the sun and heat was encouraging the butterflies to fly around looking for love rather than stop to nectar on plants. So while it was great to see so many whites and orange tips at the top of the first hill near the ruined cottage there is little photographic evidence of them.
This is about the only photo I have of all three of us. I was aiming to get the field of rapeseed in the background. You could feel the heaviness of the air from the pollen wafting off the flowers.
Into Woodhall Dean. There had been quite a lot of chat in the car about snakes and the (nearly) spurious adder warnings at Woodhall Dean. I have searched there so many times it has become something of a running joke. But is still worth going there as the surroundings are just so scenic. The bluebells were out and it was baking hot. I chose the right hand route this time since last time I had gone left (and seen that stoat.) My thinking was the south facing slopes might be a better place for snakes.
Just as we were coming towards the boundary fence at the far end I saw - would you believe it - an adder sitting curled on the path. It was about finger thickness in girth and maybe 12" long (possibly more) though tricky to tell as it was not in a straight line. I shouted SNAKE and Michelle let out quite a yell. This was almost a bigger surprise than finding the snake as Michelle is about the toughest, most fearless runner I know and not prone to girly behaviour and yet as the beast slithered off into the undergrowth, the echoes of her outburst still rang around the gorge. I did tell her she would be named and shamed. You have been Michelle! (Sorry but it did greatly amuse Derek and I.) The adder didn't hang around and I raced to get a couple of poor pics before it disappeared into the long grass. Derek got a snake wrangling stick in case we came across more but no more were forthcoming. Probably chased into the undergrowth by an inhuman shriek! 😜
I was very pleased to finally meet a live snake after about 435 great snake hunts. It was a slight anticlimax. How could anything so long searched for live up to the anticipation. Especially when it, the snake, just slunk off into the grass. I had wondered if I would be unable to resist the urge to pull it back out or interact in a hands-on fashion. However since this incident I have had another opportunity (yes, none for 20 years then 2 in the same season!) to grapple with a snake and am now under the impression that one's ancient lizard brain or caveman instincts very much discourage any close up interaction. And there's not really time to get a snake handling stick: once you have seen the snake it has seen you and will be departing the area pronto. And it is too warm to go wearing snake gloves for a whole run. (Second time I didn't even get photos.) On the upside, various sources (and my 2 encounters) suggest it does seem to be a good year for (spotting) adders.
beyond the boundary of Woodhall Dean
very peeled eyes were kept for large angry cattle beasts!
(none were spotted)
one of the many peacocks spotted today
one of the very few to stop for a photo
Derek had to leave us between Woodhall and Pressmennan in order to meet family obligations. He ran back to East Linton on roads while we continued to Pressmennan, along the lovely lake there then on towards Traprain Law.
Exmoor ponies on Trap Law
the christians must have been out with their instruments of execution
Back off Trap Law and down the side of the Tyne in the same way as the Traprain Law hill race goes. I had high hopes of seeing butterflies here but again they weren't landing. It was very picturesque though.
whites in flights
We stopped for a pint of beer in a beer garden in East Linton. Which was very delightful! Then feeling suitably refreshed and slightly light headed decided North Berwick would be a better place from which to get the train than Dunbar. I think it was about equidistant. On the way out of E Linton we bumped into these 2.
Possibly the beer but the 7 or 8 miles of JMW into North Berwick floated by very pleasantly. Unfortunately the trains, mismanaged by Scotrail, had decided not to bother to run on Easter Monday so we had to catch the bus back into Edinburgh. It wasn't that bad and Michelle was able to get off along the way to catch a connection back to Ormiston. It was a great day out on a highly recommended route, just a shame the weather was too good to get photos of many butterflies along the way. Thanks to Derek for running us to East Linton.
25.9 miles of sunshine