Turf Blog 20-05-22

Yesterday morning saw me down in Dalkeith Country Park again, hopping on the 140 bus in Bonnyrigg and alighting just outside Whitecraig. Not the usual place to be entering Dalkeith Country Park. No, I wanted to start my turf from somewhere different this time. A short walk along Cowpits Road brought me to the footpath that follows the River Esk downstream to Musselburgh, there taking my first zone called IKnow. Continuing downstream I grabbed my second zone, MonktonEscape, on the small footbridge that leads to Monktonhall, and there picking up a little used trail heading back upstream, but across the bridge on the opposite side of the river.

I wanted to start by taking two zones, YouAreTheAce and TheUnknown, two zones I’ve had awkward encounters with a certain female horse rider on three of my previous visits here, and as such I tend to avoid them. The problem here is that the local riding and livery stables think they can restrict some trials to horses only, which I believe, and I’ve checked as best I can, is illegal under the Scottish Access Code (placed into law by the Land Reform Act 2003), where all trails are open to all classes of user if used with some common sense. However, no irate horse rider’s encountered today, making for a much more enjoyable turf.

Actually, I almost forgot to mention, you have to climb over a 5-foot stone wall to get into the estate but there’s some handy foot holds to assist. I came this way about 10-years ago on my bike and recall lugging it across the wall back then. It was no easy feat I can tell you. Much easier on foot. Another task today was to practice my talking-to-camera skills and I’d brought along the new GoPro Hero 10 Black mounted on a selfie stick. Managed to record about 13 Gb of footage. I was originally concerned about the audio quality but it was excellent. However, I was still unable to effectively edit the footage on my 10-year plus aging computer, even at the lowest resolution of 1080p. Looks like a new computer will be in the pipeline soon. To get the specification I require for editing these high resolution video clips pricing will come in around £2000. Ouch! But on the bright side, it should last me a good few years.

Spent the morning wandering around the park, taking about half a dozen zones and grabbing a nice picnic lunch at zone NewtonChurch. I also called the park office and was most pleased to learn my Friends of Dalkeith Acorn Membership access card was ready for collection. This cost £12.00 per year and gives 24-hour pedestrian access via the Town Gate. I can now look forward to some night-time turfing adventures.

I spent that evening researching computer specifications, trying to determine exactly was I required to edit the 5.3K videos from the GoPro Max 360. And also double checking that there was nothing I could do to my existing computer. By bed-time my head was spinning and sleep was impossible. So, what did I do? Yes, you’ve guessed I went back to Dalkeith Country Park again, this time on the Swifty Air kick scooter.

The scoot from the house to Dalkeith was unsettling to say the least. It was remarkably quite. No pedestrians, no cars, delivery vans or even taxi’s whizzing about. Not even the distant rumble of by-pass traffic. By the time I’d reached Dalkeith town center I’d not encountered a single soul or seen a single vehicle. I was beginning to wonder if another Covid-19 lockdown was in effect, or had the Zombie Apocalypse finally started? But eventually, I spotted a group of youngsters capering about and was slightly reassured, though from their antics my Zombie Apocalypse theory might not be so far fetched. Even the drunk slouched at the bus stop looked suspiciously Zombie-link. However, a passing police patrol car driven by a smiling* police woman restored my faith that all was well. It least I hoped it was.

Having survived the (possible) zombie hordes of Dalkeith, I was keen to try my new Friends of Dalkeith Acorn membership card at the gate. Actually, I wasn’t sure how the card worked as their website is somewhat lacking in details. But I needn’t have worried, just holding the card at the gate access box produced a “Welcome, please come in”, spoken by a sexy female voice. The same voice would say the same message when I exited the park later.

I didn’t have many zones left to take in the park but kick-scooted an anti-clockwise circuit, first through the beech wood behind the church, then out along the tarmac access road that ends/starts at the main vehicle entrance by King’s Gate, also making a short detour right for zone HowlandsPark. From King’s Gate, I followed the track back through the woods and down to the river below Dalkeith Palace, for zone SneakyPlace. On the return back to the gate I noticed vehicle lights ahead, heading for Dalkeith Palace. The driver must have noticed my scooter lights and did a quick about turn and stopped to check me out. He was the night-duty security officer.

He was very polite and asked how I accessed the park. With my new Friends of Dalkeith Acorn Membership access card, I beamed. He also asked what I was doing and if I’d seen two young lads on bicycles and said he has to check these things out as they get all manner of people in the park after hours. He also mentioned about noticing me entering at the Town Gate (probably on the CCTV) and suggested it was a bit late to be in the park. My thoughts were you shouldn’t offer 24-hour access then, but I didn’t say anything, Best to keep security guys on your side.

I thoroughly enjoyed my night-time scoot around the park and still have plenty of routes for another visit. It was light enough on the road sections that my LED lights were not really needed but off-road, in the dark and spooky woods, it was pitch black and lights were a must. I must say I really enjoyed having the place to myself. No screaming packs of wild toddlers, no crazy dogs getting in the way and of course, the wildlife. Heard a young long-eared owl calling from the trees (sounds like a squeaky hinge), lots of deer crashing away through the bushes and even came within 5 meters of a Roe deer grazing beside the road. I’d planned my visit for after 1.00 am so that all my zone takes count towards Friday’s Five-A-Day. Back again soon.

*May have been laughing rather than smiling.

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