Turf Blog 31-01-23

Turf Zone – ArnistonBing

Gorebridge, Midlothian. Not one of my regular turfing areas, mainly as it takes 30 minutes cycle to actually get there. And it’s all hills, and exposed, and always windy. This ex-mining village takes is name from the Gore Water and was home to the first gunpowder mill in Scotland. The remains of which can still be seen along the Gore Water. However, it was fellow turfer, bicycle repairman and fat bike enthusiast Scott, a.k.a. MuttsCycles, who inspired me to visit this day. On my last visit to his shop for a chat and cup of tea he commented about there being the remains of an old castle in the village, Newbyres Castle, and I thought, time to go and see.

First zone of the day was LochArniston, located in the recent Whitehouse estate, just one of the many that are appearing all over Midlothian. In fact, the fields opposite, across the A7 road, are also destined for more housing. I recall an argument at work when a colleague commented how terrible it was that this was all driven by profit. I said the real driving factor was people doing naughty things in bed at night and increasing the population. Didn’t go down too well as he had a daughter.

Anyway, next zone was ArnistonPark, following a wee muddy shortcut through the trees along the course of a small un-named burn, though it later becomes the Cockpen Dean Burn. After that zone Hunter field, careful to avoid all the broken glass scattered across the path. If it’s not broken glass, it’s dog shit. Now, next zone is BurnedZone, a long slog uphill and I wanted to explore a bit and see if I can find a better route than climbing up Barleyknowe Crescent and having to loose height down Burnside Road to the zone.

So that’s what I did. From zone Hunterfield, go across to New Park Gardens, left into Jubilee Crescent, left again a short way down Barleyknowe Crescent, right into Barleyknowe Street and after a short way, right again into a small footpath that leads onto Burnside Road and the zone. Note that the street names on Google Maps and Open Street Map are not the same.

Next, zone Carlowrie, tucked away in a dodgy little alleyway behind a small convenience store. The zone is rich in local flora and fauna. At times I’ve come across youths lurking suspiciously by the hedge, numerous broken discarded televisions, broken scooters and not forgetting the usual broken bottles and other detritus of the local inhabitants. Not a place to linger on a dark weekend nights after closing time.

The next two zones are BarelyKnow and LadyBraesX, nicely located on the highest point of Gorebridge but bloody cold in the wind today. From here it’s an easy downhill to zone Stobhill. I always take my route past the home of a former manager when I was working. His departure was, shall we say, unusual, but I’d better not say anything further. However, I later found out that he was going to reduce our salaries by some considerable amount. I just hope he’s at his car one day when I’m passing. Would love to have a wee chat about old times and the like.

Not much to say about the next few zones, GoreCircle, Bonnybank, LouisBraille,
TheBank and GoreBridgeSt. But on the way to LadyEmily zone I made a short detour to the site of Newbyres Castle, a 16th-century tower house, not far from the health centre. Not a lot remains here, just a few stone walls, information plaques and some demolition debris. The local council demolished it in 1963 in the interests of public safety. Somewhat ironic today that the site is now scheduled monument.

Zones GoreHive, HolyGoreKirk and GoreField were next, followed by the long climb up Arniston shale bing to zone ArnistonBing, made much easier today with my new Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB 29 x 2.25 off-road tyres. Much better grip than road/touring tyres though still just as hard work cycling uphill. Didn’t manage that last few meters though.

A chill wind suggested not to linger, so off again for zone BridgeWatcher by the railway line, then down to the Gore Water to zone GoreWater and GoreGlenPark. The later an awkward one to take, now apparently moved uphill and accessed by a set of wooden steps. All very well if on foot but not ideal when you are on a bike and the car park has some dodgy looking characters hanging about. However, if you go up the steep road and turn right through a gap on the wall and into the trees, you can follow a narrow game trail come footpath that brings you out at the zone. So, no need to lug the bike up those awkward steps. Then it was off back home to Bonnyrigg, grabbing zones PovertRoad, Prestonholm and BlowLoun along the way.

The trouble with turfing is you have too much time for thinking between zones. And I’m thinking about new bicycles again. Yes, my Surly Ogre is fine but I’m thinking a modern lightweight bike would be a benefit, both in terms of turfing efficiency and also, and more importantly, make things a bit easier on my aching back. The problem is that the Ogre weighs in at 15 Kg unloaded and when you can pick up a Ribble e-bike that only weighs 14 Kg, an aluminium one at around 10 Kg with carbon fibre framed bike even less, I’m very tempted. I used to own a Cannondale M800 “Beast of the East” mountain bike that weighed only 11 Kg. It was so much easier to ride and manage. Must do something. Back soon.

Copyright ©2023 Gary Buckham. All rights reserved.

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