Peebles for Pleasure. I first heard that saying when I started work as an Apprentice Quantity Surveying Technician back in 1978 at James Gentles & Son, Chartered Quantity Surveyors & Cost Consultants, Galashiels, down in the Scottish Borders. I thought it was some kind of joke about meeting the kind of girls you wouldn’t want to take home to see your parents. It was only when I moved there to live in later years, that I discovered it was a quote on the Welcome to Peebles sign as you approached the town. Well, I was only 17 years old and had a sheltered life.
Today, I’m in Peebles with my trusty iron-steed Ogre on a TURF 2022 mission. That mission, which I have chosen to accept, though my name isn’t Jim, is simply to take zones, collect points and enjoy myself. It will also be interesting to visit a few of the old haunts at the same time, see how things have changed, or not. I lived there for 15 years in a wee flat at 28A Cross Street, opposite the Cross Kirk. As I’m on my road bike, I’ll stick to the town zones and leave the off-road zones, as well as those in Glentress forest, for another day. If time permits, I’ll also zip down the cycle path to Innerleithen and bag those as well, and perhaps an ice cream!
Parking at Hay Lodge (it’s free here), I worked my way around Peebles in a clockwise direction, starting with the zones in the hilly part of town in the north west corner. Actually, visiting streets I’d never seen even after 15 years living in the town and not a few hidden wee paths and alleyways I didn’t know existed. Next, along towards Peebles Hydro, across the Tweed at Priorsford Bridge, through Victoria Park, followed by the Kingsmeadows area and the new housing estate at Kittlegairy, the latter only fields of sheep when I was last here.
I must also mention the first shock of the day and that was when I switched on the turf app this morning, 70 zones lost to TSPedro_delb. No matter, all for Team Scotland, and I can take them all back again in coming days. From there on through the Haystoun estate for a few zones. Next back across the town towards Hay Lodge Park, picking off Neidpath Castle zone then back to the car for lunch. I decided to leave the zones in Manor Sware and Cademuir for another day on a more suitable bike, or even on foot.
And while I would applaud the Haystoun estate for the network of footpaths, the metal swing gates (above) are the most bicycle unfriendly I’ve come across. I mentioned this to a local I met and she said that was strange as the landowner is a keen cyclist. You can just about get a bike through using the up-on-the-back-wheel method but you need to do this while hopping on one foot as the other is needed to first open, then hold, the swing gate open. You could also simply lift them across. Mind you, you can forget that if you have a 30 Kg electric bike, or are pushing a pram. Managed a good 46 zones for my morning’s effort.
After lunch, I drove down to Innerleithen, first taking all but one of the 9 zones in the town. The single zone I left for another day was PirnHill. I fancy that as a night turfing mini adventure sometime soon. Finally, a nice and easy cycle up the Tweed Valley Railway Path back to Peebles, grabbing another 12 zones along the way, including a detour through a field of inquisitive sheep for zone HorsBurg, at Horsburgh Castle. One zone I managed to miss on the way up was EshielsEast. But I picked it off on the way back. It’s located slightly off the track in Eshiels Community Wood, the only known location in Scotland that is home to the rare and interestingly named currant shoot-borer moth (Lampronia capitella). The tarmac surface on the Tweed Valley Railway Path is excellent, only spoiled in parts where tree roots have cracked the surface. Pity they cannot find a way to prevent this.
Having started around 9.30 am and finished around 2:30, I was feeling the effects, mostly my aching back and complaining legs as well, but worth it for a grand total of 67 zones taken for the cause. And all of them unique as well. Thoughts that a sub-10 Kg carbon fibre gravel bike might not be such a bad idea. The area still has another 40 zones for the taking, 15 in the Cademuir/Manor Sware area and 25 in Glentress forest, enough for another good hard day in the saddle.
One final thought from the day and that is when you turf the same local patch much of the time, as I tend to do in and around Bonnyrigg, its easy to forget the enjoyment to be gained from turfing new locations, as Peebles and Innerleithen was for myself today. Not knowing what the zones will look like, being uncertain how to actually get there and the thrill of new discoveries. Whatever they may be. Back again soon.
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