Mostly, this is random stories from my various trips as I collect them, but I've a wee backlog to get through too and those will pop up occasionally.

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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Revisiting an old haunt

The flu/cold/virus thing that afflicted me throughout January has slowly been lifting and I've gradually been increasing my riding again. With February being such a short month I'd been keeping an eye on the weather and trying to make plans for my regular outdoor overnighter. If anything, it's been wind as much as cold that's limited my choice this year and with a last weekend in which to complete it I was flicking through weather websites to find a spot that would be reasonably dry for camping. Typically, East Lothian soon singled itself out. This is an area of Scotland without high hills and the rain which those tend to generate and is often sunny when everywhere else is shrouded in wet and damp (on the other hand it can be covered by the East Coast haar when other areas are basking in sunshine). As luck would have it, I wanted to make a trip to Edinburgh in any case to do a little shopping and to visit some relatives. 

Driving down the A9 was a little strange. It's been five months since I've been further south than Newtonmore - somewhat ironic given how much I was driving up and down last summer. The weather was certainly looking OK and I reached Aberlady in the early evening as planned. I'd originally thought about setting up camp and then cooking but I was already hungry so opted for a chippy in Gullane before setting out for a few miles along the John Muir Way to Yellowcraigs beach. Here, it was easy enough to get into the dunes and attempt to find some reasonable shelter from the strengthening winds. However, getting a combination of flattish ground, shelter and a view of some sorts was somewhat problematic and I must have spent a good 30 minutes pacing up and down with my torch before finally settling on a spot. As it was, I should have taken a bit longer. It was only once I had the tent pitched that I discovered it was on top of numerous buckthorn twigs. That saw me spend another good while pulling them out from under the groundsheet before I dared inflate my mattress.

It seemed flatter in the dark!
By now, the combination of late drive, cycle and subsequent activity meant I was already feeling a bit tired so with not much more than a quick nightcap (of the malt whisky variety) I settled down to listen to the wind and the waves. 

It was around 1am that I first awoke, aware that the wind seemed to have increased and that one of the guy ropes had pulled out with the foot of the tent caving in as a result. Getting out of the tent, I positioned the bike at the windward end and attached the guy ropes through the wheel spokes as a sort of anchor. I wasn't too miffed at having been wakened though. The wind had blown away the clouds revealing a fantastic starlit sky. The winds had definitely turned though and the rest of the rest of the night turned out to be extremely noisy despite me trying to bury my head in the sleeping bag.

Fidra Lighthouse was a constant companion through the night
Being restless, I awoke early and quickly packed, not even bothering to set up the cooker for any sort of breakfast. As a result, I was off along the coast very early and had the beached all to myself for a change. The headwind was cruel at times, especially in the area of Aberlady Bay but a last effort saw me back at the van and an opportunity for an early breakfast courtesy of Ikea!!