I don’t always make plans to get out turfing early in the morning, sometimes I just wait and see when I wake up and decide then. Today’s wake up was 5.30 am, later than usual and after a quick visit to your-know-where for you-know-what, followed by a check outside on the weather, decided to head out and take some of the zones lost to other turfers in the last day or so. With the Scotland – Skåne Turf Team Challenge still in progress, the standard operating procedure seems to be to take back zones lost to non-Team Scotland turfers, keeping them in TS hands for points and points per hour. Feel slightly sorry for non-TS turfers, they don’t keep zones very long.
The turf app showed me that turfer TS-Hodge was clearing all my local Bonnyrigg zones from the west, so I left him to continue with that and cycled off down to Dalkeith via Eskbank to take lost zones there. First zone on the way was WayOfBaird for a revisit, followed by Wishart on the cycle way. Next in line for the taking was Slytherin, at the Midlothian Community Hospital, an easy short cycle from the railway line. The direct route is along the path next to the building, okay this time of the morning, but busy at any other time, particularly just now as it’s a Covid-19 vaccination centre during the day and evenings. The access road is an alternative route.
Back to the cycle way and A7View was next, offering views of the latest construction work in the area, a KFC and Starbucks across the road from Tesco. A useful potential future refuelling and rest point for hungry turfers. I spent 20 years working as a quantity surveyor in the construction industry and still find building sites interesting and often wonder how they manage everything these days with computers. The nearest thing to a computer in my day was an electric golf-ball typewriter. We were all analogue then, Chartwell notebook, pencil and desktop calculator. Changed days! I sometimes miss being a QS but I don’t miss the crap days, the days in February, in the middle of no-where, when it’s snowing and you’re down a muddy trench “discussing” bonus schemes with a disgruntled 6′ 6″ brickwork engineer (they were known as brickies in my day) built like a Terminator.
Hardengreen zone was next. Quick route is down the hill from A7View, right then left onto the tarmac path. At the end of the path go left towards Tesco, then head right and along into the housing estate. Hardengreen zone is the next on the left. You may notice the enticing smells of bacon and sausage cooking here from Tesco, depending on wind direction. My next lost zone was WitchTakeoff. Continue onwards from Hardengreen and along the pavement – a drop kerb is about half-way along – right along the main road and next left, then up the hill and into the trees. The middle path seems to get the best GPS signal for the zone.
Normally, I’d continue onwards for a recently added zone, WishartPlace but I still hold that one and the nearest zone I wanted was Strawberries. It’s one of the awkward zones, not quite on a zone-taking loop and I tend to miss/forget it sometimes. Only route to this one is along the main road so be careful. The A7 is the worst and negotiating the Eskbank roundabout can be, shall we say, interesting. My technique is to be bold, take up lots of space and move fast. Remember a cyclist can be quicker off the mark than a car. Switching your brain into downtown New York cycle courier mode helps.
EskPath was next in line for taking back. On the turf app the most obvious route is to head towards Dalkeith, then take a left and follow the road past the houses. However, if you head from EskBank roundabout and take the B6392, there’s an alternative route on the right, just before you cross the railway line, down an almost concealed path. Takes you straight to EskPath zone. From Eskpath, my next destination was WhichKing, in Kings Park. An easy one this, continue along railway path, right and left along main road and cross into park. Simples!
Two holy zones were next, HolyDalkeith and HolyBuccleuch. HolyDalkeith is located in the cemetery and easy enough to access from the traffic lights when heading into Dalkeith from WhichKing zone. There’s a mains water tap here at the gate, if you want to wash your bike, rinse the sweat from your face, or whatever.
HolyBuccleuch zone is located across Dalkeith town centre and there’s three different ways to get there but the easiest is to head back to the traffic lights and turn left. There’s actually a no-left-turn sign but I just get off and walk and stay within the law, well, mostly. Perhaps not mostly when I’m there in the middle of the night and not a car in sight. HolyBuccleuch can be taken from inside the gate and occasionally from outside the second gate but the most easiest and reliable GPS signal is to turn into the street after the church and stop at the low wall.
SayAhhh was next, an easy cycle from HolyBuccleuch, then onwards towards TheGuitar zone. From HolyBuccleuch, the quickest route is along the main road, then after crossing the South Esk, you need to cross over the road and loop back a little. Can be difficult when the roads are busy, a doddle during quiet times, like now.
ThriftShop was next to be taken back into the tender care of Team Scotland, at least for a short while. From TheGuitar, follow the cycle path up hill and you soon join the National Cycle Network Route 1. Note there is usually copious amounts of broken glass on this stretch for some reason so take care, mostly opposite Salters Inn. I’ve been lucky so far – touch head/wood – my Schwalbe Marathon Dureme tyres have a puncture resistant strip which seems to do a good job and I’ve also got puncture sealant inside the inner tubes. Both highly recommended for turfing.
An easy ride along NCN1 gave me DalkeithHigh and ExitDalkeith and that was as far east as I planned this morning. Unfortunately, I was now headed back into the wind, and a chill lazy wind it was. I was wearing four layers this morning but the wind till finds those gaps at ankles and wrists. Even with thick gloves my fingers were nipping with the cold. But dropping down into the policies of Newbattle Abbey gave some shelter. I missed taking Peppermint – not concentrating enough – but did take SouthEsk and BattleAbbey, before heading back towards Bonnyrigg, taking Beatles, BikeSlooowly, CollegeZone and Eskbank.
Following the sterling efforts of turfer Hodge, I was able to take, for the second time this morning, zones A7View, Slytherin, Wishart and WayOfBaird. Well done, Hodge, and thanks for clearing all the other zones in Bonnyrigg. I’ll be able to take some of them during lunch break and more this evening. Now, enough turfing, I need a shower and some breakfast, mostly I need breakfast, the shower can wait. Until next time. Watch out for another thrilling episode of Planet Gary Turf blog!
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