Thursday, 30 December 2010

Alien landscape

Yesterday. Heading south at lunchtime I drove down the A1 with my running gear in the boot but without the usual paraphernalia of ipod and garmin. I caught glimpses of thickets of white, whispy mist that clung to the low ground around Prestonpans, North Berwick and East Linton and it wasn’t long before I felt powerless to resist the pull of a possible run in a strange and photogenic environment; I turned left into Dunbar and dumped the car off Belhaven Road where I had some privacy to change from shirt and tie to lycra.

There was still snow on the ground, but with the thaw in full swing there was more green than white and I set off initially up and down the flights of coastal concrete stairs, heading along the Coastal Trail that quickly became the John Muir Way. Tacking along the cliffs and across the edge of Winterfield Golf Club, the ground was still hard but the thaw meant that I could choose my path over the crust of icy exposed grass and reeds.

I kept the sand and hoards of daft exercising spaniels on my right and continued west. Not knowing quite where I was going I jogged past little groups of dog walkers and couples. Through thick green damp thickets of Scots Pine the ground was a carpet of pine needles, moss and abandoned cones. I encountered an amorous Labrador called Humphrey who clearly needed to get out more. Why would you call your dog Humphrey.

Appearing out of the trees, I continued onto the flat, soft red silt and reedy clumps and stumps of Belhaven Bay. Driftwood and a corridor of concrete blocks, remnants from the last war. It was empty, open, desolate and beautiful in the mist. I could hear the birds, oystercatchers, curlews and geese competing across the shallow water and grey mudflats of the estuary. As the sands narrowed I caught sight of a lazy heron and the unmistakable metallic blue body of a kingfisher.

I continued up through Salt Green and having run for an hour, I could make out the road noise of the A1 in the distance by then.

I turned south and cut across a couple of fields with Tyninghome House behind me and lopped along some frozen tracks and hedges and past a field crammed with Brussels sprouts resembling a regiment of small perfectly formed green jackets as the sun dipped and the mist dropped back into fields.

I worked my way back through the Plantation and across the Golf Course meeting an older guy, a runner, who wanted to chat about a surfer, collecting driftwood and his life in general but time was getting on.

It was a slow but uplifting adventure. It's good to explore new places.