It’s always nice to see zones pop up in your own region. My own region is Midlothian, Scotland, to the south of Edinburgh. In fact, in the past week or so we’ve had two new zones. One is HareDownHill, located in the Pentland Hills above Penicuik, the other Gladhouse, located beside a reservoir of the same name. And as I’m trying to take all the 431 zones in Midlothian, with 386 of them taken so far (about 90% completed), I was keen to take these new zones. Today I decided to go for Gladhouse.
Zone Gladhouse has the honour of being the most remote and isolated zone in Midlothian. Its nearest neighbour is TrickyLock in Howgate about 5 miles away. And from my home in Bonnyrigg, about 7 miles. But those 7 miles are as the crow flies, in real-world terms it’s more like a 20-mile round trip.
Now, I’m not complaining about new zones, or this one in particular, but I do wonder why you would create a single very isolated zone? Yes, there may be quite valid reasons that I’ve not thought about which is fine. But I do ask the question is it going to encourage turfers to go there and take the zone? Yes, there will always be a few hardcore dafty turfer-cyclists (or runners, or kick scooterists) will relish the challenge, but will the majority of turfers simply jump in the car to take the zone as a unique, never to return? Time will tell.
Perhaps, rather than just a single isolated zone, would it not be better to create a series or circuit of zones incorporating the Gladhouse zone, say, forming a loop, thus linking Gladhouse with other zones. In this instance, we already have an existing route that could be used. It’s called the Mount Lothian Trail, one of the Tyne Esk Trails created for horse riders but can also be used by cyclists or walkers. The route is 11.5 miles long and details can be found here. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not complaining, just suggesting other ideas that might make visiting the Gladhouse zone more attractive to more turfers.
So, with my sights this morning set on the Gladhouse zone, I had an important decision to make. Which bicycle to use? Should I take the Harley Quinn, which is more suitable for urban tarmac roads, or should I take the Surly Ogre, with his larger tyres more suited to off-road terrain? Actually, knowing the poor conditions of the backroads leading to Gladhouse, they are in places, more akin to being off-road, so the Surly Ogre it would be. Both bikes are single speed which will most certainly add to the challenge. That’s a nice way of saying it will be bloody hard work.
And it was. My route took me though some lovely rolling countryside, through the picturesque village of Carrington, then on to the village of Temple, with its association to the Knights Templar. The village was once known as Ballentrodoch, which in Scottish Gaelic, means town of the warriors. Legends states that Templar treasure may be buried in the area.
The early sections of the route are fairly sheltered but the landscape soon opens up and becomes more exposed to the wind. Add to that a few short hills where the limitations of riding a single speed soon become apparent. In other words, I had to get off and walk. With a single speed bike, some hills are just too steep to ride. You reach a point where you just cannot turn the pedals, your legs have turned to jelly and you simply run out of puff. You are forced to get off and walk. Actually, I don’t mind. All part of the fun.
Gladhouse zone is actually by the side of the reservoir, so even if you are car turfing you will have to climb the fence and go to the water’s edge, or at least under the trees. No issues taking the zone here. Did a “Where’s Shaun?” on the Turf Scotland WhatsApp group. But it wasn’t really much of a challenge to anyone as we had been discussing the Gladhouse zone. So, no prizes for guessing where Shaun the Sheep was turfing today! Back again soon.
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