Heavy rain had put me off my planned kick scooting turf session last night, sticky mud and the Swifty kick scooters tend not to go together very well. However, Sunday morning was dry and bright, so no excuse not to head out and grab those zones in Newbattle woods and around Dalhousie Castle. My chosen steed for the trip was my trusty Surly Krampug – no point taking the kick scooter until the ground dries out. Rain was forecast for later in the day.
My route took me along the cycle path through Bonnyrigg, past the railway station at Eskbank, past the college and past Police Scotland HQ and along to my first take of the morning, BattleForest. And again, no issues with the GPS since the zone was relocated just a few meters from the old location. Next, through the St. David’s estate and into Kirk Bank wood. The path was wet and muddy but not as slippery as I’d imagined, though having said that, had I been riding the Ogre with its skinny touring-tread tyres, it might have been a different story – the Krampug’s tyres are 3″ wide and were also running at a fairly low tyre pressure, so plenty of grip and added comfort as well.
Zones Newbattle and RecentBattle were taken without any problem but OldBattle led me a merry dance, the GPS up to its usual tricks and the zone seemed to move all over the place. However, eventually, and after much tramping about the undergrowth, I managed to sneak up on the zone and take it before it realised I was there and moved away again. Zone StoneGate was next, and an easy take, then off past the Sun Inn and a quick cycle along Lady Lothian’s walk for zone TheRedWoods.
I now turned the bike towards Dalhousie Castle, following the path beside the River South Esk past Grove Farm, picking of two zones on the way, ByEskWeir and GroveFarm. However, things had been going well until now. This time last year this footpath would have been well trodden with dog walkers and people out for their daily Covid-19 permitted exercise. This kept the vegetation beside the path well under control. Today, however, the path has resorted back to its normal pre-Covid state, with the vegetation reclaiming the path from both sides, and from above.
Handlebar high grass, stinging nettles and low-hanging branches now assaulted me from all sides, the vegetation and trees still dripping wet from earlier rain. By the time I’d reached Grove Farm, I was totally soaked through. Foolishly I was wearing sandals, and my socks were soaked. My shorts were also wet as was my t-shirt and my gloves were totally saturation. In addition to just being wet, my arms and legs, as well as most of the bike, was covered in grass and other seeds, along with the entire insect population that lives along this path. And not all of them were happy about being disturbed, showing their displeasure my sinking their little jaws into my arms and legs. Oh, the joys of summer turfing.
After drying off the phone and clearing away all the grass seeds and bugs, so I could actually see the screen, I then proceeded to take the half dozen zones I wanted around Dalhousie Castle. First zone Dalhousie, at the parking area, followed by WitchesHouse, down by the river. MillHolm was next, with SouthEskAside soon after. Then up the Castle Dean Burn path for zones DeanWoodPath and DeanWoodTurn.
It was approaching lunchtime when I arrived back home but before I could settle down for some food, I had a few chores to do. First one was to get the hose out and clean the bike, next clean my sandals – if you leave them they soon start to smell. I also stripped off and hung up all my soaking wet clothing to dry. Then feet up in the conservatory for a well-earned lunch, just in time as the forecasted rain started soon after.
With the tick season in full swing, I want say a few words to raise awareness of these little blood sucking arachnids. The weather at the moment, wet and mild, is just perfect for them. The females will climb up vegetation and simply wait for a passing animal, or unfortunate turfer, to latch onto. This is known as questing. They then seek out a nice warm patch of skin where they bite into you and suck your blood. Some ticks carry something called Lyme’s disease, which can be very nasty and difficult to diagnose. The best defense is prevention and thoroughly checking yourself after being outdoors in tick habitat is highly recommended.
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