Friday, 5 February 2016

Lovely film on YouTube ..

Sorry not been on to update... not good news coming...
Meanwhile a lovely film of a small part of our east coast...

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Footridge to Enchantment... Beachcombing and a reminiscing walk to Gullane Point...



I left two wheels at home and went out walking on Saturday as i had done enough cycling into and side on to the weeks gales of Storm Gertrude. I recently bought a used copy of `Footbridge to Enchantment` by Nigel Tranter. I have not read this great book for a few years and could not find my original copy.

Nigel Tranter lived for many years at Quarry Cottage overlooking Aberlady Bay and as an Aberlady Primary School pupil i remember his visits and story telling of local history here where we lived fascinating.
I have fond childhood memories of days out on the Reserve with my Dad when he was working and we would often meet Nigel Tranter walking his dog with his note book and pen in hand as always and Dad and Nigel (Always Mr Tranter to myself) would discuss what they had seen recently on the Reserve, things washed up from the last tides etc, any information Dad said of use Mr Tranter would scribble it down.

The  beach combing was the thing i enjoyed most out on the Reserve along with exploring the WW2 defences, and the occasional long long walk when your young all the way out to the Submarine wrecks.
Those days we would walk 5 or 6 miles and would include a lunch stop at either the bird hide or if your old enough to remember the old caravan that sat out on the Reserve. Today a visit to the subs can be as swift as a 10 minute cycle on a fatbike...

I left High School in 1987 and started working for the summer as a Greenkeeper at Gullane.  Mr Tranter was a regular sight crossing the Reserve on either of the two main tracks with note book in hand where he would lift an arm to wave at us working or passed him on the way to or from the sand hole or beach, while on his walks as always every so often stopping to make notes..

Re reading `Bridge to Enchantment` brought back for myself my own memories of the unique area and reminded me of some facts about the area i maybe take for granted having probably visited the Reserve more since i got my first fatbike 7 years ago than when i visited as a child...

Across the footbridge to enchantment- holding onto the hand rail and struggling a bit as a real strong westerly gale with crazy gusts, only another two cars in the car park and both their occupants were sitting inside!...

Demolished in the big storm in February 1990 visitors would then park at Gala Law(Quarry Corner) until the replacement bridge was built. I was reminded in the book that the replacement and present bridge is now two foot higher, which explains why i have never seen the rare high tides pushed in by the wind and Lunar conditions right over the present bridge.


The old Curling pond..



From the first tank block on the left you can follow the edge of where the salt marsh meets the mud flats and walk all the way out to the sand spit, though it was a bit windy today for being out here i was enjoying the solitude already and avoided the wet holes and flooded areas...


A Gull and Crow ahead not flying away to the last minute says `food`!...


And the remains of a seal...



The Seagull and crow soon returned to their feast as i crossed the salt marsh and moved inland a bit to the line of branches and other things washed up from the previous high tides...



If you came out here in the early 1980`s you may remember a walk way through this wet area made of milk crates. It was great fun as a kid to try and run across them without falling in...



The sand spit and area to the east is growing every year, i remember a lagoon in front of the Bird hide- now a just a frame wreck for bird watchers. Now grass had taken hold and the blown sand held with the Marram Grass has seen more dunes growing..



View across to the two Mini Submarine wrecks out on the sand bar...


Always things to find out here washed up and my pockets were already full with tennis balls, where do they all come from?. One mystery Nigel Tranter did not mention in his book...


How does this wash ashore without breaking?...


The next dog to come along will think he is in heaven when he finds this lot...


I left the tennis balls and took this junk which can go on the shelf in the lean too at my back door full of other silly stuff i pick up on the coast...


Hood up for the blowing sand on my back and up and across the newly forming dunes and over the main path to soak up the views...



The land to the right of the path in the pic below is the area that was a lagoon when i was a kid and shows how much the area is growing


Down the path and the view from the remains of the mentioned bird hide...

`Bridge to Enchantment` book describes no trees when it was written on the reserve except small Hawthorn clumps and the Sea Buckthorn bushes and how the Rabbit population nearly eradicated from the release of rabbits infected with Myxomatosis
As a Head Greenkeeper myself i know the damage Rabbits do to fine turf, they give Greenkeepers a lot of extra work! causing damage to bunker s and turf with there digging and scrapes,  but `myxy` is a horrible disease. On the reserve Rabbits would have kept fresh shoots of Hawthorn and Sea Buckthorn  from growing and becoming esp for Sea Buckthorn such an invasive plant.

The book also describes the growth in height of the dunes. A good way to see this is to go find the remains of the half buried WW2 Coastal Defence Hexagon shape Machine Gun pill box, to find it from the top of the main sand path look east for the biggest group of what i would call young trees. in the top right of the below picture..

Walk to these trees then walk around 50 meters east below the big dunes and you should find it...





Part buried inside it has nearly disappeared from view except the centre and SE entrance...


Standing on top the machine gun windows are about a meter below your feet and they would have had a view north of the beach in 1940-now the beach and sea is totally out of site...


So all these dunes have grown to this height since 1940...



So how high will they be in another 70 years?...

And i wonder how far inland the dunes will reach



Time to keep walking along the high paths through the dunes...




21st August 1940 these blocks were constructed. Wednesday is spelt `Wedensday`  not just myself that struggles with grammar!...



Google that date and Britain was eight weeks into the Battle of Britain, the the country was preparing for the worst.. I like the sight of the Anti invasion blocks out here, they are not to every ones tastes but i look at them as part of our coastlines history, and monuments to those that prepared to defend this island during dark days...



Moving on and the across the `Metalled Road` or `Army Road` as known locally and the old football pitch in the picture below, used by troops stationed here in WW2. The metal stumps from the goal posts used to be seen at each end,  strange that the Sea Buckthorn still has not en crouched across here when is rampant all around the surrounding area of  the North side of Gullane No 1 Golf Course...



Once home i realised that i had not gone to look for the stony ruin outline of the once home of Jovey Gray who once lived near the Iron Mine which slag heaps are still visable, on my way to climb up to the cliff top. The direction to the outline of  the cottage are given in the book. I guess that will can be another visit sometime...
The book also describes all the plants out here have a thorny jaggy theme, and it is so true, even the Marram Grass can give you a paper cut type wound...




The View from the top over Gullane beach, near empty in this gale today except for a couple of kite surfers...


Time to head back across the Reserve and across the Links...




I sat here out the wind and thought of my time working here (10 years) and some of the real windy damp and cold days out working. And i don`t think i could go back to days out turfing bunkers etc in that again!...
We do not work out doors in that kind of weather, it`s pretty stupid and dangerous, from using hand tools like shovels to tractor doors being broken, it`s only grass, things can wait...



Then i remembered something from my first summer, the year of the 116th Open Championships at Muirfield... and sheltering in here from heavy rain...






Cough... ;)


Time moves on and we have all moved on from working here at Gullane,  around here is slowly changing but the same view here which is one of my favourite on the East Lothian coast of the Reserve and across to Craigielaw where we grew up will always be special for myself...


Back across the Reserve on the `Army Road`, you can see why it gets it`s other name of `Metalled Road` here, it originally ran all the way from near the old Football pitch to the check point gate in the defences at Gala Law (Quarry Corner)...


The Marl Loch, all bird life laying low in the gale...


And the view south across the Peffer and the former home of Nigel Tranter, Quarry Cottage...
And also the old crossing  which you can read about along with a bit more local history Here...


Back across the bridge and i read in `Footbridge to Enchantment` the present bridge is 200 yards long with the dog leg at the southern end to counter the tides and it was 200 steps for the author to cross.  I paced a 188 steps across...


Back at the car and the winter sun still glowing and wind blowing strong after 3 hours and 5 or 6 miles of an area that really  is a place of enchantment with every visit. Those who visit here on foot or bicycle i recommend to read a copy of This Book...