Social events, runs & cycles
You couldn’t have got better weather, or a better feast at Keith’s. Great soup served by delightful children, and just an amazing layout of food and cake. I have eaten far too much. I’m not alone in that! Many thanks to Bärbel and the cake bringers.
Plastic in the sea is very topical but the entire coastline is littered with planks. The timber came off cargo vessel the Frisian Lady on March 2 while it was 110 nautical miles east of Souter Lighthouse, off the South Shields coast. There have been dire warnings that taking this littering eyesore is criminal. Actually the environmental impact is criminal, and it’s going to be around for a very long time. Get out and help yourselves. You’ll have to carry it miles though. No-one else is going to clear it up.
A great day out; all 34.4 miles of it! More if you took some of the longer beach headland variations, or went to the seabird center and the gps hunted about for a signal.
For the record we had 23 starters for the AJMW 18, most filing elaborate but believable reasons for not going the full distance, even with bicycle assistance. The two features of this year’s outing were the planks scattered (we hear) the length of the North Sea coastline from a ship that shed its load (off Newcastle in a storm) and the perfect weather. The photos tell the story well. The Seabird Centre presented its usual timekeeping challenge with good coffee and bacon rolls. The tide was out, allowing a splinter group to take the boulder beach and tide-trap option around the Tantallon headlands. The rest of us traversed the top of the Gin Head cliffs and along the Castle moat to re-join the shore party at Seacliffe harbour. The low tide exposed vast swathes of sand and boulders for route choice to Ravensheugh and the bike pick up for the return half. Lunch at East Linton presented the usual conflict between feeding and timekeeping, with lunch and afternoon tea merging seamlessly. The River Tyne path was a riot of wild garlic and tree blossoms. On the ascent to the Garleton Hills Mike and Neil got confused by Mark H’s strictly runners-only option after leaving the river. They climbed to the Hopetoun monument by the hitherto unexplored Cogtail Burn valley to emerge back on route to enjoy the valuable practice at double-barbed-wire-fence-with-wall crossing at the foot of final climb. All were in, and all-in, after around 8 hours of glorious sunshine.
Next year we have experimental modifications to remove a lot of tarmac from the second half.
Alan’s pics –
Jeff’s pics –
Forget extreme ironing – this was extreme whisky tasting. After a wee warm up in the Steading, Jeff’s unusual home made and very palatable sloe whisky, and the delightful Glencadam – a honeyed and full bodied whisky – we had the choice of the bad weather route or Castlelaw and bust. After that warmup caution had become a laughable notion so we went for it. Up and into the blizzard. Spectacle and contact wearers had an advantage as the ice scoured the eyeballs. Huddled on a hillside a very fine smokey whisky from Oban warmed us as we sheltered as best we could in the lee. The next was a recommendation from Willie; an unusually thick Pedro Ximenez sherry cask finished whisky. Oz was very taken by this one, and demanded a photo of its colour in the cup. The coup de grace was administered by a full on 46% Bunnahabhain; a fine finish and a fitting toast to Andy Millard, co-founder of the run. We were glad to get off the hill and back to the Steading for food. Thanks to Oz for another inspired outing. Same again next year (but with sunshine)!
Whisky Chaser Ode
We gathered together in the warm Steading bar,
Drank coffee and beers, spied the menu from afar.
Off we trotted into gloom and dreich weather,
Good whisky was forecast, and no doubt some blether.
Boghall trails boggy, Woodhouslee climbing,
Two bottles down and Castlelaw looming.
The spindrift coated the deep muddy peat
So we cuddled together in the leeside to preserve our heat.
Allermuir, Caerketton and a toast with an Islay
Andy Millard remembered for the 5th bottle finale.
Down through the snow and a meal in the Steading,
Beer and more whisky, and for some – apple crumble pudding.
The 17 Wards Ultra run, the 4th in this year’s series, was completed today by Jonny Muir (well, it was his idea).
12 started at 0830 down the A70 at Little Vantage and enjoyed wet feet from the start along Thieves Road. East Cairn Hill and Allermuir and lots of bog got us to Juniper Green and 16 miles done. A few dropped out leaving 8. We Headed for The Southside Hills and I bailed near home, then Jeff Roberts bailed leaving half the starters. Lucas Lefevre and Alan Hogg called it quits some time later and by the Royal Mile, or the 36th Mile, all but Jonny was prepared to continue when Michelle Hetherington and Mick James called it a day also. I drove into town with food and drinks to help refuel Jonny, and Rachael Normand came out also and we saw Jonny off with a half marathon to do. The rest of us drove to a pub with parking, then Rachael cycled to catch Jonny with a head torch, smile and a rucsac of moral support.
Jonny managed the full route that ended up being 49 miles and 11.5 hrs of running. A great achievement for him and the rest of us who had a go. Nice route in parts and certainly novel.
More pics from Michelle and Nadine…
An (almost) perfect night of running conditions, save for some remnants of snow, saw 11 runners depart from Linlithgow Railway Station on the vernal equinox. Phil Young marshaled us admirably and his decision to avoid Cairnpapple (too many, er, tourists) and head onto Cockleroy and then Witchcraig was the right one, as it formed a much more interesting run IMHO. We stopped midway to order food and the kitchen at the Star & Garter sharpened our focus (away from the running booze) to get ourselves back there for 9pm, else the food was a goner.
All in all, a fine, pacey run and a good pre-food workout. Next year, new Druidic locations will be sought. Suggestions welcome!
Route here: https://www.strava.com/activities/1463674292
Taking part in the Carnethy Vernal Equinox has given me hope that now Spring has arrived we may finally get to experience a bit of sunshine and warmth. Thank you Phil for guiding us so expertly round an intricate route in the dark and giving us the special opportunity to be outside for this astronomical event that celebrates new life in nature.
Well that was a fun way to celebrate St Patrick’s Day!
Nine of us started on a surprisingly snowy Calton Hill setting off in search of stout. It must have been a big one in Finnegan’s Wake the night before as they hadn’t reopened (nothing to do with my organisation skills, honest) but thankfully Ensign Ewart had and the first round of half pints of Guinness were ordered. From there it was a short jog to the castle and down the road to Malones, picking up Alice on the way (Alloa half marathon had been cancelled). Malones is definitely quite a change from Diane’s Pool Hall that was there formerly and nobody was offered drugs or chased out with a pool cue. They even sorted us all out with Guinness hats to wear for the rest of the run. These certainly drew attention and there were plenty of toots and waves from passing cars for the rest of the afternoon.
Corstorphine was next, then a different route from the race across to Luckies at Balgreen. I’d reccied this during the week to see if it was better than The Pub, which is less of a detour, but a pretty terrible pub from my memory of 7 Hills 7 Beers. After another half of Guinness here we were back on the road towards Craiglockhart. The steep route up through the trees – that I’d skied down 2 weeks previously – was tricky with a couple of inches of snow on it, especially for those who had opted for trail/road shoes, but we all made it up and across to the Buckstone. Well Google might suggest the Buckstone is open again but it’s not. Thankfully we could still get a round of Guinness in the Braid Hills Hotel and be on our way, leaving some bemused guests to their Sunday afternoon. There was still a cold stiff breeze so we didn’t hang around for long on the summit after the obligatory photo, and made our way down to The Hermitage in Morningside. Here I handed round some Irish Fifteens (https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/fifteens) to give us a boost for the next hill. Highly recommend making some if you’ve never tried them before, and there are plenty of tasty variations you can make to the classic recipe.
After this stop Mike and Neil headed home and 8 of us continued on to Blackford and then Leslie’s for our 6th half of Guinness. We avoided the temptation to sit by the fire (sorry Gio) and got on the go again before muscles started tightening up too much. It was a fun climb up Arthur’s Seat with the snow making rocky section a little treacherous. We didn’t hang around to enjoy the view for long and picked our way down to the Dry Damn and stayed high on the windswept ridge. On the way down here we met Tom from http://www.weephotos.co.uk/ who I’d spoken to on Allermuir while skiing the week before. He kindly agreed (was bullied) to take our photo and gave as good as he got from Mark… https://www.facebook.com/Weephotos.co.uk/ Our final half in the Kilderkin was Murphy’s and required our Guinness hats to be temporarily removed. All that was left to do after this was make our way back up to Calton Hill, pose for a photo, and retire to Salt Horse for burgers, and maybe a beer other than stout.
Thanks to those who came out for all or part of it. Chris, Fraser, Ken, Lucus and myself completed the route with a half in each pub. Alice should probably get an honorary mention for going via the castle on her way home to complete the challenge, and Mark had run a marathon in total by the time he got home with only a couple of Stouts missed.
Sixteen Carnethys turned out for various stages on the run. Four joined along the way, Digby and Nicola Dunn made use of a shortcut option, and others left early to meet commitments having done their fill. This makes for a great way of running with always someone new to chat to. The pace was relaxed and the café in Walkerburn excellent. Cool bright clear weather showed winter isn’t over, but spring is on the way and clumps of snow drops here and there confirming that we were the lucky ones.
I suffered and slogged away at the back, then cut my run short after 27+ miles with the prospect of a lift home. Well done to Pete Buchanan, Lucas Lefevre, Graham Nash, Andy Howett, Auren Clark, Aisling Ailing and Alan Hogg who did the whole route of around 30 miles, with others doing at least 14 miles. Everyone who wanted to get to see the rugby did, and I think everyone got home from Galashiels.
For those of you thinking an Ultra run (>26.2 miles) like this is beyond you, get this out of your heads. Come along and see where you get to, you might be surprised, and yes, you can do it. The pace accommodates everyone there. Thanks to Pete B for the route plan and to all those who enjoyed the stunning Borders.
Pete Buchanan’s write up here
Shorter circuit from Yair with short cut:
As good a day as I’ve ever seen in the Borders. Lovely sunshine, crisp and cold. Mature pine woods (see them now, the chainsaws are advancing), great views from the ridge. A splendid 21 miles starting in Yair, and after visiting the café in Walkerburn, Nicola and I took a shorter route directly up the valley to meet the Southern Upland Way at the top (on our shortcut a prominent forest track marked on the map must have been marked 30 years ago, and it snagged and tripped us as we beat our way up feeling intrepid), pausing to snack in the sunshine and see if the fasties, on a longer route, would appear. Which they didn’t. So we set off slowly. They soon arrived and we were together again until returning to Yair, where various permutations either carried on back to Galashiels, bailed, or got into cars.
Those who started and finished in Galashiels did the true Ultra distance, some did a marathon distance, and I was well pleased to do the 21 miles. The Yair loop with the short cut is shown in yellow on the map. The short cut took 2 miles off the distance (measured from the Café).
We must do this again! (on a sunny day of course)