Thursday, 28 February 2019

Carnethy Peebles Ultra

Mark oversees an entertaining social ultra series for the Carnethies during the Winter months. Graham contributed this route, a regular training run we've done previously. But tweaked slightly at the start to go round the North side of some Pentland hills rather than parallel to the A702 on the South. Around 20 went as far as West Linton (17miles) with just 7 of us going to Peebles (30miles).

We got really lucky with the weather. February last year saw the Beast from the East put snow on the ground. This was mild Spring weather and made everything glorious. Less pleasant was the early start. I only found out at West Linton why we started at 8.15am. There were a limited number of buses back into Edinburgh and 8.15 allowed those returning to catch the bus which I think was about 11.50. We got there in ideal time for that so the 8.15 start was spot on. I got a lift up to Hillend from Nick who arrived at 7.45 with a coffee in his car for me, (apologising that it was only MacDonalds) what a darling! He planned to leave his car and collect it next day after work.

The route went past Swanston, to Bonaly then round the back of Black Hill above Threipmuir and beyond Balerno before heading South to North Esk Reservoir and Carlops. Within a mile or 2 Sarah found she wasn't feeling up to it and decided rather than push it, to do her own thing at her own pace. Probably a good call as it was a long day over quite taxing ground.

Threipmuir Res. looking more like normal depth/volume of water.

The perimeter of the new deer fence which will be a consideration
if doing the 7 reservoirs swim/run later in the year.

heading towards East Cairn on the drove road

North Esk Reservoir

Coming into West Linton on these delightful trails there were several patches of flowers in sunlight. Ideal conditions to attract early season butterflies. The internet has been very lively with sightings - uncommon in February anywhere North of London. However the recent mild weather has produced dozens of photos of Commas, Peacocks, Small Torts, Red Admirals and also a couple of recordings of Painted Ladies and Speckled Woods which are exceptional. Obviously I spent the whole run looking out for any. While it was unlikely in the hills I felt there was a real chance around West Linton and spent most of the lunch break (while waiting on the Gordon Arms opening at noon) watching a garden with blooming flowers. No luck! A handful of chaffinches peeped and cheeped in a small tree around birdfeeders but not a flutter of anything else. 

Bus stop.
20 starters reduced to 7.

route over Pentlands to West Linton
Possibly the most scenic part of the day and best of the weather.

On the way out of WL (after a delicious pint at the Gordon Arms) I ran over to these crocus hoping a butterfly might be lurking nearby. There wasn't but I saw a pair of dippers working the Lyne Water. Unfortunately they saw me and disappeared; and I had to leg it to catch the others as I wasn't absolutely sure of the route. I think it was shortly after this we all saw a butterfly cross our path up ahead. I had been mentioning butterflies (surprise surprise!) so shouts went up, but it flew over a substantial hedge and by the time I got into the field to give chase there was no sign of it. It appeared to be reddy brown so I think possibly a Peacock or Small Tort, the most likely candidates around now. First sighting of the year! It was to be the closest to any butterfly action all day. 😭

admiring the scenery!

up up up

down down down

I hadn't really remembered how much there was in the way of hills in the second half of this run. First time we did this run (Feb 2016) we had bussed to Peebles (in the lashing rain!) then run back. So over this section we were fresh and prob not looking around so much. I was surprised the altitude profile was as rugged as the Pentlands section. And it would explain the general fatigue in our legs. I was glad to be wearing a new pair of Hoka Speedgoat 3s. Excellent shoes for these trails. (And occasional mile on road.)

lots of hills

Around here Nick thought he recognised the woods. Sure enough there was a way-marked path across the fields and we headed off the road over to the woods, then followed the telephone poles up the hill. This was the last hill before Peebles but it was considerable. I think Nick set himself the challenge of running up it. The rest of us didn't feel the need. We regrouped on the brow of the hill with Peebles just visible in the valley ahead. 

all downhill from here

When we arrived in Peebles we went to the Bridge Inn where a rowdy dominos match was ongoing. I kid you not. We drank pints at the far end of the busy pub trying to discreetly change into dry clothes. Gio did some stretches outside as he was feeling a bit seized up. He wouldn't always do the whole thing on one of these runs if a shorter option was possible, so I'm guessing he was feeling fresh at W Linton. The pace was great over the whole day out, never too slow or too fast, and about the speed I would probably go if doing it solo. Only I might have stopped for more photos and butterfly hunting. Honourable mention to Michelle who had done the 27mile Northumberland Coastal Marathon the day before (3rd female, hurray!) (and drunk a bottle of prosecco) before (next morning) driving to Straiton and running over to Hillend. And showing no sign of slowing down all day, what a trooper!

Opposite the pub was a garden full of feeders and sparrows. I took photos and chatted to the owner while popping out the pub to check for butterflies in the sunshine. Great day out and thanks to Mark and Graham for organising. 

It marked the beginning of a superb few days weather. I managed to take time off to enjoy a couple of longish runs looking for butterflies, but that's nothing compared to Graham who, midweek, knocked out his 5th sub24hr Ramsay Round. Congrats on that impressive run following on from 30miles on Sunday. Way to go!

30.33miles over 6hrs45 (incl stops)

This was the third time I have run this route. All 3 have been in Winter. This time was the least taxing, though not without difficulties. The weather definitely contributing to the enjoyment. Last time was December 2016, with Jim and Nick and was memorable. And exhausting. I think the gradients are the likeliest reason it's a tough route. Last time we offset the pain with quite a few drinks. Blog here. Nick is defo getting better at staying upright. Especially on slippery wooden bridges.