Alternative John Muir Way - 3rd April 2011
Report by Keith Burns
“It appears natural for children to be fond of water, although the Scotch method of making every duty dismal
contrived to make necessary bathing for health terrible to us.” 
John Muir – A Boyhood in Scotland. 1848
The Alternative John Muir Way avoids the pavements, cultivated field margins and similarly tragic failures of the local authority’s version. Ours pays a more appropriate tribute to JM by following an outstanding coastline and hinterland that should qualify for national heritage status. 23 starters left Aberlady Bay in a cool breeze, blue sky and spring sunshine for the 3hr, 28km continuous traverse of beach, boulders, dunes and cliff tops to Ravensheugh.
There were a few random diversions from the optimum line by those who chose to shun the guides to find their own route; the advice “keep the sea on your immediate left” allowed varied interpretations.
A few bold members emulated Burt Lancaster in the 1968 movie “The Swimmer” by taking a dip at numerous beaches on the way. The final swim-in at Ravensheugh (sea temperature was 7C) looked like a pagan spring rite. Here the bikes were broken out (except for the full-distance runners) for the inland return via Binning Wood to a long break at East Linton.
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Over-indulgence at the sunny garden lunch led to digestive problems thereafter, and a clever suggestion to postpone lunch until evening next year. On the afternoon shift the weather tried to deteriorate briefly along the tranquil River Tyne path, but failed.
The split into runners and cyclists created the first competitive moves of the day, with the runners overtaking the cyclists on the ascent of Pencraig Hill from Hailes Mill. Here, Richard opted for a lone low-level short cut back to the finish.

Back with the pack, in restored sunshine, positions changed throughout the varied traverse of the low ridge past Barnes Castle to the tougher Garleton Hills. Karen eventually spat out the social rules of the outing, making an aggressive break from the pack on the penultimate climb approaching the Hopetoun Monument, leaving a trail of wilting pursuers in her wake (she will be reported to the Handicapper). Here we reverted to social rules with a pleasant ascent of the dark spiral to the wind blasted top of the tower.

By this point the team members still in the game were dwindling fast, left with only the fast descent back to Aberlady Bay. On this final section, as usual, the cyclists suffered a spate of punctures as the runners drifted in on legs scratched and bruised from sea-buckthorn, boulders and barbed wire. We finished in sunshine and a cool breeze as we had started about 7hrs earlier. 56km of tiring entertainment.
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Garleton Hills
sneaking through Tantallon      
Many thanks to the club for financing transport and food. There also were many donations of fantastic cakes, puddings, roast venison, rum truffles, bicarbonate of soda and ibuprofen. Thanks also to drivers/runners Jean and Keith; and, not least, superb catering from Bärbel.
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  Seacliff harbour Hopetoun Monument  
Participants (those in bold doing the full distance either running or biking or both): Keith Burns, Jean Jumelle, Ian and Sally Jackson, Willie Mykura, Ronnie Gallagher, Gio McDonald, Digby Maass, Karen Meikle, Juliette Camburn, Kate Jenkins, Craig Mattock, Jasmin Paris, Pete and Elsie Baxter, Angela Scott, Richard Lathe, Nigel Fawthrop, Gillian Paul, Colin Pritchard, Andy Millard, Keith Adams
ajmw Lovely food!
photos - Gio McDonald, Jean Jumelle, Digby Maass, Keith Burns, Kate Jenkins

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