Turf Blog 07-01-23

Turf Zone – Suttieslea

Newtongrange is not on my list of favourite locations for turfing, mainly because it takes 30 minutes on the kick scooter to get there and most of that is uphill. And for those not in-the-know, kick scooting uphill is hard work and often nye on impossible. There are two routes to Newtongrange, locally known as Nitten or Nitten by the Bing, from my home in Bonnyrigg. One is via Cockpen and past Dalhousie but the pavements there are poor and the B704 is a fast busy road making the journey none to pleasant, particularly when cycling and especially at a number of tight bends I always feel vulnerable at. The alternative is to follow the A7, again a very busy road but at least the pavement is scoot-able and there’s also a short detour you can make through Newbattle to avoid the busy A7 stretch. This was my route today.

My first zone of the day was in Bonnyrigg, zone PeacocksBeard, just minutes from the house. Then after a very fast downhill scoot to the A7 Hardengreen roundabout, zone StoneGate offered up a few more points. I must point out that crossing the A7 can be a perilous experience. Mind you, having said that, there have been times when thoughtful car drivers have slowed, even stopped, to let me cross. Still, worth keeping your eyes peeled as there are two lanes of traffic on the approaches.

My first zone in Nitten was BryansStop, the pavement here littered with a fresh spread of broken glass. Why people seem to take delight in smashing bottles on pavements is beyond me. But with the kick scooter it’s so easy to step off and lift the scooter over areas like this, avoiding a potential puncture. That’s one thing I love about kick scooting, the ease of dismounting. In fact, with practice you can get the movement from kick scooting to walking so smooth as to be seamless. Which reminds me of a scene in the vampire movie Underworld, where Selene, an death-dealer vampire-warrior played by the lovely Kate Beckinsdale, leaps from a cathedral tower and, being a vampire, slows her fall just as she reaches the ground, her fall gracefully changing into a walk with a single step forward. Magic. Don’t try that at home!

Next zone on the itinerary was LadyMansfield, a short way through a small housing estate. Then we are climbing again, uphill to zone Suttieslea, and I must admit to walking most of the way. Gravity is the biggest enemy of all kick scooterists. No broken glass here, which makes a change. Not so, I suspect, at another zone further long this short footpath, one I had renamed as BrokenGlass, for obvious reasons should you take the zone there. But that’s one for another day.

Having gained all the height I needed today, I now contoured my way back and forth across Nitten. Zone AroundEighth was next, followed by zone Between7And8, a zone hidden away behind what used to be miner’s cottages associated with the local colliery. Zone RectangularSq fell to the GPS next and I was pleased to say no obvious Richard the Thirds lurking in the grass this time. A few minutes scoot brought me to zone Colliery, an off-road zone along the line of an old mineral railway used by Lady Victoria Colliery in days gone by. And I pleased to see that the vegetation has been cleared well back from the track which should make summer visits far easier. Jaggy brambles, stinging nettles and spiky dog rose stems are the main issue here. Again, a popular location for doggy-doo’s!

After zone WhatPark, it was across the very busy and perilous A7 again to the National Mining Museum Scotland for zone MineMuseum. The museum was open so the zone was easy to take. If the museum is closed it can sometimes, depending on how fickle your GPS is, be difficult to actually take the zone. More than once I’ve had to carefully hold the phone at arm’s length through the fence while being very aware about not dropping the phone.

Next on the list was zone Newtongrange, located at the railway station. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the cobbles at the museum and will say that cobbles and kick scooters with 12″ wheels do not go together very well. The switchback path down to the station is fun though, even manged a couple of the kick scooter equivalent of hand brake turns on the damp soggy leaves at the corners. Before heading into Nitten, I grabbed zone WhyMurderDean. It would save some time later. There are two zones in the centre of Nitten, MinerMemorial and WelfarePark, both easy to take. Then it was time for a short break.

Station Road is where you will find Mutts Cycles, owned and managed by Scott, a keen cyclist, turfer, kick scooterist and fat biker. And I don’t mean he’s a fat biker, rather he owns and rides a fat bike. I enjoy chatting to Scott, he’s a mine of local knowledge, very knowledgeable on all thing’s bicycles (and kick scooters) and makes a reasonably cup of tea. The interior of his bike shop is something to add to your bucket list. A proper old-style bicycle repair shop full of all manner of bike stuff.

Refreshed, it was off turfing again. Though getting going again after stopping far too long is not always easy. Zones NewtonsBridge and VickysGardens were next, followed by Squirrelly, MatthewJenks, Cockpen and Butlerfield. I then picked off BlowLoun, KirkCockpen, Brixwold and Pittendriech on the way home. It was interesting to use the kick scooter in Nitten rather than my usual bicycle. I followed the same route but being able to use the pavement made for a nice change. And one final thing, if tempted to buy a Swifty kick scooter, I would recommend the Swifty Air, which is more suitable not only for off-road use, but also handles rough city pavements, urban canal paths and the like as well. It’s also easier to mount lights and phone mount on the handlebars. Bye for now.

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