|“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight,
and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the
“May you have warm words on a cold evening, a
full moon on a dark night and a smooth road all the way to your door.”
With a rucksack and pannier full of hill gear, it was
ironic that as I cycled it began to rain half way to Bonaly, the venue
for the first “real” night run of the year. By the time I
turned up Bonaly Road, I was soaked, although the good Scots word drookit
seemed more apposite. As I reached the junction which would take me left
to the run start, I headed right and cycled off into the darkness, up
by Torduff reservoir, along to Kinleith and up through the woods above
Currie Hill. The track was awash, rutted and broken which made it interesting
but oddly I was enjoying myself on what was “home turf” when
I’d lived just below at Blinkbonny for nine years.
Out on the moor, the newly surfaced path made the going
easier and I dismounted at the path junction, sorted gear and jettisoned
both bike and pannier to some dark crevice, a measured sixteen paces
from the track, and headed off into the darkness. As always, with all
lights and torches firmly off, the Pentlands lay before me like a silver
carpet, starlit and beckoning. It was only when I saw the beams of head
torches ahead of me that I realised it was still pissing tipping down.
As I ran up to the stile, the two beams were climbing slowly up Harbour
Hill and I wondered if it might be Alan and Jonathon, or Alice (who live
that side of the hill)).
The summit of Harbour Hill is flat and indistinct and
there is little shelter, so I was surprised that the two people ahead
had disappeared. No dark shadows, no spilling lights.
If I was wet before, I was now seriously so and elected
to pull dry gear – down gillet, windproof, fleece jacket and waterproofs – on
top of my wet gear as trying to change in the wind and wet would have
but soaked all my dry gear, or chilled me further. Now the wait. “Ah,
sweet content, where doth thine harbour hold” as somebody once
Odd to watch the lights of the city far below, the
stars above and the shapes and shadows of the Pentlands around me. Down
in the trees, lights swirled and danced – a witches’ coven
rehearsing? More likely mountain bikers out night riding. I thought about
the fireworks - my purpose for being there – would they light in
the wind and wet? How to set them? When? A Kestrel’s cry took me
away from such thoughts and I wondered what had brought it here. Did
it think the same about me?
I watched the passage of time – a light heading
towards Castle Law, then lights cresting Capelaw, just as the rain stopped.
Quickly I set the fireworks but blindly as I couldn’t risk a light
which would be seen. But something wasn’t right. The lights were
moving too slowly. Then behind them more lights, then more, until the
summit of Capelaw looked to all intents like a little village, its lights
twinkling in the dark.
The lights wound up and then wound down the hill in
an appropriately yellow and red and yellow snake-like line. At last they
dropped out of sight and whilst I readied the fireworks, Cali tried to
persuade everyone that there was no need to come up “my” hill
as the direct route off was north. Sigh.
As the torches neared the summit, I struggled with
the fuses, the lighter, the wind, two-dimensional vision, wet gloves
and so … with perfect timing the fireworks lit up the sky. Amid
the oohs and ahhs, and robbed of my night vision, I couldn’t find
the next batch and luckily Willie joined me to locate and set them off
too. Afterwards the runners headed north east to the pub, whilst I headed
west then north west back to the bike.
As I readied the bike the moon broke through the cloud,
glinting like a tiger’s eye then rose majestically, bright and
golden, etched in a dark sky. Beautiful.
Back down through the woods, the world shrunk into
a microcosm – mere pools of light and pools of water – suspended
in the darkness created by my bike lights but whistling down Currie Kirk
hill, the lights of Edinburgh sparkled before me.
At the Kirk, all was ablaze courtesy of the floodlights
only, and not a cutty sark in sight, so off down the old railway line
to the Spylaw Tavern for some welcome food and drink, conviviality and
All too soon it was over and back on the bike I cycled
up and then through the City Hospital Woods and over the Braids and home.
The first real Carnethy night run of the season, except
I suspect I wasn’t actually on it.