Sunday, 10 May 2009

Garleton Hills.

The original intention had been to indulge in a spot of Graham bagging by doing the fine rocky peak of Mor Bheinn,sometimes called Ben Halton,above Comrie in Perthshire.Our usual check of the weather at meetup time on Sunday morning revealed that the demon clag would blanket this area though....read on...

"Can you smell something ?".

"Wisnae me..!"

"No,no....a sort of angle grinder smell" I said.

We pulled over into the layby at Pencraig woods on the A1 near East Linton.A quick shufty around the van soon revealed the source....smoke belching out of the rear wheel.It had a new wheel bearing fitted on it the other week and there ensued an unproductive 10 minutes cursing the incompetence of the mechanic responsible :)



Our destination had been the sea cliffs at St.Abbs Head and then a quick jaunt up the nearby Marilyn of Dirrington Great Law.Time for a change of plans..

Luckily there was a small public convenience in the layby.Off with the cistern lid and an empty coke bottle was filled up with water.Poured it onto the wheel drum and it vapourised immediately..! While I was on the phone to the mechanic, Bob spotted a small path heading into the nearby woods.We decided to go for a walk and let the offending wheel cool down in it`s own good time.Once we had negotiated the usual empty drinks cans and used condoms in the immediate surrounds it turned out to be a great wee view point atop the escarpment overlooking North Berwick Law.The gorse was in full bloom and the fields of yellow rape fields added an almost surreal look to the landscape.

The Garletons from the layby....




North Berwick Law from the escarpment...



The mechanics advice had been to get the AA to tow it back to Glasgow,or,if we were feeling lucky,to drive at 30mph on the side roads and stop every 15 minutes or so.It was such a glorious day however that we elected to go with the "lucky" option :) First stop up was the picturesque wee village of Athelstaneford,where,legend has it,that the Saltire was first seen in the sky.A quiet half hour was spent wandering round the old grave stones and listening to the audio sound track on the origins of the Saltire.

Inscription from the granite memorial....



The Garleton hills loomed in the near distance ........



........and Bob suggested we head there next.He had cycled over them a few years back and promised excellent views for such wee hills as is usually the case.Bonus trig point there for me as well to salvage something from the day :)
Along the road another few miles and up through a lovely old native oak wood to the bottom of the Hopetoun Tower.



As luck would have it the gate at the bottom was lying open :) It was pitch black inside and the steep spiral stairs were covered in old leaves and twigs.The sound of pigeons cooing above drifted down...



It wasn`t too bad further up...there were shafts of light every so often from the narrow vertical openings.We eventually landed on the top parapet and what a view.Briliant..! I don`t think I have experienced a sense of exposure like this since the Old Man of Stoer.

Looking down on the gorse and oak trees from the top of the tower...



Zoomed shot of North Berwick Law and the Isle of May in the background...



We must have spent a good half hour on the top and were particularly cheered to observe the rain clouds over the hills to the west :) Off to the highpoint next to bag the trig point...



A pleasant walk along the spine of this wee chain of hills followed,over a couple of fences and soon the trig point appeared.



We lay on the grass in glorious sunshine enjoying the views... Bob kindly donated a couple of Mr.Kiplings lemon slices to fill the void in my stomach as I`d spent all my cash on diesel and 20 Lambert and Butler :)



Bob walking along the summit...



Back over towards the Hopetoun monument and the van.The wheel had now cooled down and we thought we would try and get it to the other side of Edinburgh and find somewhere else to pass an hour.No luck though.Just passing Dalkeith an ominous rumble developed from the rear.There was no way on God`s earth I was pulling over in Dalkeith.I`d been there once before you see :)

Chancing our arm we continued trundling along the Edinburgh Bypass and turned off into the Straiton Retail Park.The AA were duly called and we had the prospect of a two hour wait in this hellhole.We perked up at the sight of TKMaxx though and off we went in search of the fabled £20 goretex jackets.Not that we foresee any need for them of course I hasten to add :) Zilch,nada....just a collection of garish crap that passes for fashion nowadays...you wouldn`t be seen dead in it.

Read the Sunday paper and worked on the tan a bit and bang on time the AA arrived.Their never keen on towing you home as it affects their bonus system.If they can fix your problem at the roadside they get a bonus,but,if they have to to transport you home they get nowt and also forego any bonuses that they may have earned whilst towing you home.The guy was friendly enough though and half an hour later the van was on the tow dolly...



I was a bit pissed off initially at the side of the A1 as the weather was perfect but it could have been a lot worse.Got a nice wee hill or two done in pleasant company,sunny weather,a new Yeaman and a new trig point to boot. :) Not looking forward to the garage bill though..!!

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