Sunday, 3 July 2011
Long Run in the Lammermuirs
Having slept in too late to travel through to make the start of the Dollar Hill Race (I was awake in the middle of the night to listen to gulls, Leith's finest singing and fighting and Peter snoring, but then got into a deep and lovely sleep), we had to quickly think of a plan B which would be substantial enough to wipe the stain of idleness from our snowy white vestments. (???) We hatched a plan to revisit the path in the Lammermuirs which we tried to do in the winter but got kinda lost in lumpy fields full of snares and had to eventually turn back on ourselves running 12 miles where we had intended to run 20...(as blogged here).
We found the way back to the start without much difficulty and by 4.30pm were on our way! The bright sunshine had been replaced by a thin layer of cloud which was probably a mercy. The run starts with a near constant 2 miles uphill.
We were determined to do the full route this time - which we had measured as about 20 miles on Anquet maps. The running was a lot easier without huge snowdrifts and we didn't have to worry much about impending darkness so we were easier in our minds than last time. The path starts off very broken up and drossy but after you come over the top its generally easier. One noticeable thing was the burgeoning wildlife. The skies were filled with peeping marsh birds (peewits?) and the odd silent buzzard. There were lots of tiny rabbits. Quite a few hares. Sheep and lambs. Flies! (but not too many mostly)...some dancing ferrety things that were too far in the distance to properly identify...
We ran one way all the way through the hills to Carfraemill and there hung a left along a main road for a while. There wasn't much in the way of pavement and the multitude of picked bones and little furry bodies were a warning to get away from this stretch of road as soon as possible.
Not far along we turned back up into the hills and the unknown. This part seemed wilder and the path became very stony and rutted and at three points there were streams crossing the road big enough to merit some exploration to find a way of getting over them with dry feet (we still had a good way to go). There was a thought provoking amount of death heaped along these roads as well and we both independently christened this stretch the valley of death. We saw quite a few myxomatosis rabbits and others dead for no apparent reason. Also squashed and dried frogs (like dried bananas) in the road - and one very swollen Mr Rat with most of his fur off. There were also scattered bits of birds. It was all a little ominous and the marshy ground increased the number of insects. One diversion off the road to avoid a stream led to some minor rock-climbing and then wading through reeds and thistles and nettles leading to a good number of scratches and bites. We also came across frequent traps that looked like they were set up for...who knows what? Something ferrety...
It was a relief to climb to the higher ground again. We were a bit perturbed to have our road suddenly run out instead of continuing as the map seemed to indicate but we could see the road that ran alongside the electricity pylons just a field away so we had no difficulty joining up with this road. By now it was getting quite late and the peeping birds had mostly gone to bed. There were still hares and sheep around and oddly a whole flock of gulls. I was getting mighty sick of hills by this time and was trying not to whine as we'd only covered 16 miles and I wasn't relishing the thought of the next 4. As it turned out there were actually another 5 to go. I'm glad I didn't know that.....We'd both brought plenty fluids but were thirsty none-the-less as we'd been sweating constantly in the sultry heat. At last we hooked up with the original road and there were just a couple of ups before the 2 mile downhill and views of sunsets across the Forth back down to the car. We managed to pick up some beers in Haddington before everything closed and were home in time for a very late dinner - 11pm, and back to bed.
21 miles in 4 and a bit hours and the God of exercise has forgiven us for missing Dollar Hill Race.