Yesterday, I and 2 of my cycling pals completed the 4 Abbeys Cycle route. This follows a route in the Scottish borders, taking in Melrose Abbey, Dryburgh Abbey, Kelso Abbey and Jedburgh Abbey. Given that this was a 60 mile (97.2K) cycle (official route is 55 miles), we only saw each abbey in passing. There’s an expression “the rolling hills of the borders” to describe this countryside and I’m sure that we went up and down each hill. There are some big climbs and eye-watering descents en route but of course, it’s the climbs that stick in your memory. This was not the longest cycle that I’ve done, but certainly the toughest. Photo 1 shows Jedburgh Abbey – taken last year – no time for photographs on this cycle.
A recent walk took us to the Hopes Reservoir (Photos 2 and 3) which is about 15 miles (25k) from Dunbar. It’s a very attractive walk, taking in heather covered hillsides and some energetic climbs for those hoping to get views across East Lothian (Photo 4). We walked to the top of Crib Law and enjoyed the views as well as the shadows of the clouds racing across the slopes in the strong wind. We then walked around the reservoir which was a sparkling blue in the sunshine, while the ferns were changing to their autumn colours. Photo 2 includes a heavily berried rowan tree. These trees were locally known as a form of protection against witches and people planted the trees near their homes and often next to churches to ward off the evil spirits. It may have worked here, as we certainly did not encounter any witches or warlocks.
Another recent walk took us to Aberlady Bay (Photo 5). This is a well-known nature reserve with a range of birds, both residents and visitors. You walk across the bridge towards the beach, passing mainly scrub, so it is not the most attractive walk until you get to the wide sweep of beach. At the moment, thousands of pink footed geese roost on the bay in the evening and there is a constant stream of skeins of geese towards evening. The skein takes the shape of a triangle, and you can usually hear the geese before you see them. We went to an interesting talk on the geese at Waterston House.