Following a surprise visit from the Very Despicable Pulled Muscle in the Back Goblin, I’m finding myself somewhat restricted in my ability to turf by bicycle or kick scooter, and having to resort to good old perambulation. But that’s not going to stop me having some nocturnal mini turfing adventures. The good thing about this time of year is that darkness falls early in the evening and you can head out for a night-turf and be back at a sensible time, rather than having to be out either side of midnight. The temperatures are still often agreeable, the cold frosty nights have yet to arrive.
My plan was to walk across town towards Melville Castle hotel and pick off the zones in the surrounding area. It’s an easy walk – essential in my current state of aching back health – and good for spotting wildlife as well, though being still early in the evening possibly not as good as later in the early hours of the morning. My first zone was IKnowBroom, located in Broomieknowe Park, a small park with play area beside the car park for Broomieknowe golf course. The time was around 8.00 pm and it was quite dark, as there are no street lights here. I could see the dark outline of two youths sitting on the swings, teenage girls I suspect from their giggling, sitting in the pitch dark, only their faces reflecting the light from their mobile phones.
My next zone was BroomieGolf, found on a dirt road that splits the golf course into two parts. From Broomieknowe Park, a gap in the wire fence offers a wee shortcut to the parking area. There, a white lowered-suspension Volkswagen Golf was sitting beside the access to the golf course, more than likely a GTI, the steamed up windows suggesting the occupants were up to some shenanigans, perhaps playing mummies and daddies. Mind you they could very well have been reciting Shakespeare for all I could tell. I gave them a wide berth and slipped onto the course.
I carried the mobile phone in a side pocket of the rucksack, the screen turned off and the volume up high. I knew the zones well enough that I wouldn’t need to look at the phone for much of the evening. The phone would announce when I was taking the zone and when the zone was taken. As I crossed the course I was not alone. An LED light was bobbing up and down at the far side of the course, moving slowly in a westward direction to my left and accompanied by two ground-hugging UFO’s with red and blue flashing lights. The UFO’s darted this way and that, moving quickly across the fairway. Of course, they were not actually UFO’s, just a couple of dogs wearing the latest trend in flashing LED dog collars. Looks rather cool mind you. I wonder what the dogs actually think of them?
Nearing the next zone, BroomieGolf, I noticed further LED lights bobbing towards me along the road. Now, being someone of a rather secretive nature, I stopped behind the hedge at the zone and waiting for them to pass. I was not using a torch myself, so stood still and quiet in the darkness. In fact, as I waited they left the road, walked through the gap in the hedge and passed two meters to my right, totally unaware of my presence. I wonder what would have happened if I’d said hello? Zone MelvilleGolf was next, only a few minutes’ walk across the golf course, through a gap in the hedge, down the side of Melville pitch and putt, through the glare of the floodlight at the driving range and stop at the zone. A security light flickered into life. After a few seconds wait, zone taken.
Immediately opposite zone MelvilleGolf, across the road, is the entrance to Melville golf course. With the road clear of traffic I quickly crossed and ducked under the barrier onto the course. About halfway across I heard the rumble of deer running across the course, the sounds coming from my right. They were between me and the streetlamps stationed along the A7, silhouetted against the light. Just the two of them. They quickly vanished into the wood and were gone.
Knowing deer were in the area, I kept my LED torchlight low once inside the wood, and walked as quietly as I could, not an easy task with all the dry leaf litter covering the trail down to the River North Esk and the footbridge that would take me to Melville Castle hotel. Luckily, the wind was from the north, blowing directly towards me, from the direction the deer had fled. They would not pick up my scent. After about 20 meters into the wood, something caught my eye to the right. Slowly bringing my light to bare, it was a male roe deer. It didn’t react to the light but it was alert, probably having heard my approach and looking in the direction of the golf course. After a few minutes it slipped away out of sight. Nice one.
Zone SpotTheDog was next, located opposite the hotel itself. Now, I’ve found out how the name came about. First, pull up Google maps and zoom in on the hotel. Next, click the little street view figure down on the right and you’ll notice a small blue dot appears on the screen. Click this and pan about. Did you spot the dog?
To reach my next two zones, MelvillePark and WalkLasswade, I followed a sigh-posted path directly opposite the hotel parking area. I don’t usually come this way if I’m cycling or on the kick scooter, as it’s often very muddy and overgrown, but tonight being on foot, decided to give it try. Fortunately, the vegetation had been cleared and efforts made to lay down some planks on the muddy patches. I then followed paths towards Melville Grange, past the floodlights of Kings Acre driving range. I don’t normally come this was so early in the evening. Most of my previous visits have been later with driving range closed. I felt very exposed walking in the glare of the lights.
My final zone of the evening was GolfWatchCCTV at Kings Acre golf course. After that I retraced my steps back home. Had my back not been bothering me, I would probably have continued, picking off the zones in Lasswade, Polton, Mavisbank and along the River North Esk as far as Roslin, returning back long the cycle path. But not tonight. They will always be there another day.
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