My plan this mild and sunny Saturday was to continue with the theme of ticking off a few of those unique zones that always seem to be left over after you visit an area. You think you’ve taken them all, a good job done, but it’s only when back home that you notice the odd zone here and there that you’ve missed. In addition, there are few new zones that have appeared since my last visit and I want to take those as well.
My route today was to follow the Dalkeith to Penicuik cycle way as far as Roslin Glen, drop down through the old gunpowder factory, take in Roslin and Loanhead, then follow the cycle path to Shawfair, again picking off a few uniques along the way. Of course, I’m not just going for uniques, there’s plenty of other zones for the taking as well and it would be criminal not to take them if in the area.
I set off the back of 9.00 am and soon noticed that Bonnyrigg had a couple of turfers, Aibo and Pedro_delb, already out taking zones. So, just as well I was not planning to do Bonnyrigg this day. To many turfers about. I saw Pedro_delb taking one zone ahead of me but he zoomed off into the Hopefield estate. Would have been nice to chat with one of the local competition but perhaps he didn’t notice me. I’ve done the same myself when the zoom level only shows a small field of view. So easy to miss other turfers that way, and miss zones as well.
The Dalkeith to Penicuik cycle way was fairly quiet this morning but with more horse riders than normal requiring me to slow down for safe passing. Also, with leaves now on the trees, the dappled shade makes spotting where tree roots have buckled the tarmac all that more difficult, often resulting in a bumpy ride. It was good tarmac all the way to Rosewell, then after the roundabout, the surface changes to gravel. Recent drainage work and grading have improved the cycle way considerably and even after the rains of the previous day, flooding was much reduced.
The path through the old gunpowder mill was not quite so dry. A build-up of leaf litter has resulted in a few mushy patches but not much of a problem when cycling. My last trip down here was in winter, with snow on the ground and stark skeletal trees. Today, greenery is everywhere, the trees are in fresh leaf, the wild plants are taking over the paths and verges and the bright sunlight was a photographer’s delight. My desire to photograph zones for the blog does not make for speedy turfing. In fact, I was thinking about that today. I’ve realised that it’s not just the need to get turf points that keeps me going, it’s also about producing this blog and posting a few photographs. I just cannot pass up photographing a zone, even if I’ve done it dozens of times before.
Having dropped down into Roslin Glen, I now needed to get out again. My route today was to head down into the parking area, taking zone RoslinPark in the passing, then cross the River North Esk at the footbridge below Roslin Castle – always, I find an awkward task with a bicycle, as the steep metals steps are very narrow. There was a small child in a red cape with a pretend sword fighting a small bush. Perhaps the Knight Templar are recruiting again up at Roslin chapel?
The village of Roslin was next, with around ten zones for the taking, five of them dotted along the footpaths on the site of the old colliery, a common feature in Midlothian. Then it was along to the cycleway that would take me to Shawfair. I was very tempted to have another go at the Eager ferret and try to better my 9:01 time from back in March. However, I suspected it would be too busy and that proved to be the case. Far too many wayward children, dogs running wild and all the usual suspects to get in your way. But I will be back sometime, probably in the wee small hours of the morning.
A bunch of easy zone takes along the cycleway brought me to Loanhead, where I had three uniques to add to the collection, BulkTurf, WheatMayBurn and RamseyBing. It was at this point that I realised my zone count was not increasing very fast in line with the number of zones I’ve been taking. A quick zoom out on the Turf app revealed why, another turfer, Pedro_delb, following in my wake along the cycleway taking zones and also on my intended route. But not to worry, it was lunch time anyway and as I was at zone RamseyBing, I found a nice quiet spot out of the wind and scoffed down some lunch. By the time I’d finished and returned to the cycleway, Pedro_del’s zone blocks had cleared and I was back in business.
StraitonPond zone was my next intended stop for some birding but a bunch of eight rowdy lads on mountain bikes were drinking beer at the pond so I decided to leave that for another day. The light was perfect for a great photo of the zone but thought it better to wait for another opportunity. Next stop was GraffitiZone, always worth a stop for a few photos, then ever onwards. Lots of little black flies out today, the one’s with long dangly legs that get everywhere when you are cycling. They are called St Mark’s fly, or the hawthorn fly and are quite harmless. Best to avoid swallowing them though.
My next unique was BeACowboy, located on the edge of the Gilmerton area of Edinburgh. The zone had been recently taken by another turfer, this time féarglas, the Turf Queen of Scotland, but the block should have cleared by the time I get there. I had hoped to take the zone then drop back down to the cycleway but the area was now a housing development and security-fenced off. I could see the same tyre tracks heading in and out again, probably left by féarglas, so detoured back through Gilmerton instead. Note sure about the origin of this zone name. It was added in March 2020, so could refer to cows or horses in the fields which are now in the hands of “cowboy” builders?
My final unique of the day was NewtonChurch, situated near Millerhill, about a mile and a half from Shawfair. From Shawfair there’s a good shared path all the way round to Millerhill. The zone itself is along a rough dirt track and under the A720 City Bypass. There’s a locked gate requiring a bike-lift over a very shoogly wooden style but can be managed with care. All that remains of the church is the tower and lots of clay pigeons scattered around the area. This was another zone of my suggestion, so if you are cursing while rumbling along the rough track you know who to blame.
And that was just about me for the day. After picking off the zones around Shawfair, Sheriffhall and Dobbie’s Garden Centre, a fast cycle down the A7 had me home in Bonnyrigg for a welcome cup of tea and a few biscuits. A grand day out overall with a few uniques added, some 66 zones taken but just as many lost again to other turfers. My points tally had passed the 980,000 mark and my rank was now up to Rank 38 – Experienced Turfer. Round points to date a bit on the low side at 157,200 but should be still enough time to grab another 100,000 or so for my usual round target of 250,000. Until next time, keep on turfing.
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