So, here I am again at Aberlady Bay Nature Reserve, at night, in the dark, alone and, of course, the entire point of being here is taking a few zones and simply enjoying the experience. I’m on foot tonight, a better way to experience the location than riding a bicycle or kick scooting. On these two modes of energy-efficient planet-saving transport, you are more isolated from the place, spending more time looking where you are going, avoiding hazards and trying not to fall off. When on foot, you have much more time to actually look and see what is around you, even in the dark. Though you should watch out for rabbit holes. Don’t want to end up like Alice, do we? You can also hear more of what is happening around you. It’s all about the experience of being there.
That experience would also be enhanced by the conditions tonight. Sunset was around 9.00 pm, so dark by 10.00 pm. The nights are already beginning to draw in again. Low tide also around 9.00 pm and with the next high tide six hours away at 3.00 am tomorrow morning, plenty of time to walk out, and back, to the two zones at the midget submarine wrecks. In addition, moonrise is around 9.30 pm, and with the weather forecast for a clear night, balmy temperatures and next to no wind, all making for a good time to be out and about. My starting point was Quarry Corner below Gala Hill. That’s the sharp bend before you go right towards Gullane, in between the golf courses. The parking is free here and the access road leads to the beach. Okay, it does pass by the water treatment plant, but you can always hold your breath!
However, plans are flexible and instead of following the lovely sounding water treatment plant road, I opted to head straight across the golf courses, aiming for my first zone of the night, HummelRocks. I’ve walked this way a few times now, and I’m getting familiar with the little paths between fairways, and all the trails used by the greenkeeping staff. As I gained the high ground, I caught a bright light in the corner of my eye. It was the moon just beginning to rise above the Garleton Hills. It was bright orange in colour, so I settled down for a few minutes to watch. What a fine sight it was, the sky was graduated shades of blue-purple.
At the concrete anti-tank blocks beside Maggie’s Loup, I slipped on my Karrimor river sandals – I’d been walking barefoot across the golf course – and dropped down the steep path heading for my first zone of the night, HummelRocks. A couple of lads had a fire going, or it might have been a portable barbeque, difficult to tell in the darkness. Not feeling like meeting anyone, I slipped round the back way, through the scrub, and found the zone that way. Then, a message on the turf app. I’d been spotted. It was from turfer NDJI, no doubt alerted by me taking HummelRocks from him. Nice to know someone is keeping an eye on you in these more remote locations. I wonder what NDJI means?
Next stop was zone TheOldMan. I followed the rocky beach and was soon at the zone and settled down to enjoy the view while the zone was taken. Flights of waders were passing overhead, terns were calling out over the sea and the throb a big marine diesel engine could be heard across in Fife, perhaps the same one as my last visit. It was all very serene, calm and peaceful. The crashing of the waves on the beach was almost hypnotic. It was a good place to be turfing.
A short walk brought be onto the main beach, and a slipped by sandals off again and stowed them in the rucksack. The sand felt warm underfoot, then I felt a tickling around my feet and ankles, and realised I was wading through vast crazy swarms of sand hoppers, all bopping, jigging and jumping all over the place, including me! They are quite harmless but I retreated from the strand line where they live and found less congested parts of the beach to walk.
As I walked along the beach, seeking out the ideal areas where the sand is slightly softer but not too firm, much more comfortable for walking barefoot, my thoughts turned to the Five-a-Day I’ve been keeping up for 336 days now, that magical target of 365 not far away. The main question on my mind is what am I going to do when I’m finished, perhaps the same thought the other 249 turfers currently on target for the same are having? Relief at having finally finished will certainly be on my mind. As to what next? Probably carry on turfing, I suppose!
My next zone was PillBoxWW2, located deep in the dunes and almost invisible unless you know it’s there or stumble across it my accident. Even if you do know it’s there, not all that easy to find, even during daylight. Thankfully, I’ve been here before and know the route well. Actually, the trickiest part was climbing up the loose sand of the steep dune face from the beach and trying to avoid standing on thistles. Another zone taken.
I was now off towards the wrecks of the two midget submarines out in the bay, zones SubWreckOne and SubWreckTwo. Normally, I would visit here on a falling tide but tonight, it was the opposite, a rising tide. I was not sure if the subs would still be above water. But no matter, I walked in that direction anyway. It took over ten minutes to reach the first zone, slowly a dark shape appeared in the darkness. It could only be the sub wreck, not much else would be that shape out here, other than a beached whale or something of that kind. And if SubWreckOne zone is above water, as will SubWreckTwo, as its slightly further inland. Zones taken.
All that was left was my final zone of the night, SandySocks. It sets of with my sights on a point on the horizon, actually the planet Saturn, shining brightly to the west. As I got closer to the zone, I adjusted my course and eventually ended back-on the zone. One final zone taken. Now time to head home. I did consider turfing my way around Kilspindie golf course and Aberlady, I’d brought the Swifty kick scooter with me, but it was getting late and I can always do that another time.
The walk back was interesting. Other than encountering more rabbits than auditioned for Wallace & Gromit’s film, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, the main point of interest was the air temperature. Out on the sand flats in the bay, and also in the dunes, the air was lovely and warm but in the saltmarsh low lying areas were decidedly chilly. I would estimate around 7 Degrees Celsius lower than the 17 Degrees Celsius in the warm areas. And walking back was quite amazing in the moonlight. It was so bright that I could dispense with my torch. Back at the car, a night well spent. Not many zones taken but what a night. Time to head for home where I have something extra special in the freezer, compliments of my next door neighbour, a 480 ml tub of Kit-Kat Ice Cream and it’s mine, all mine! Thanks, Margo. Bye for now.
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