The Last Leg

This is the last one of the Covid Tour 2021, shame I hear you shout! It won’t be for long though before we are up to something else! We’ve had an amazing time in Scotland, dodged the midgies, recovered our bike legs and Jigsaw the hunter gatherer has helped us with our “protein” (voles) and introduced us to lots of people/her fan base!

So the Aviemore area was our stop for a few days as we started to meander back to get our second jab. The camp site was submerged within the forest and naturally, had lots of trails. Its a very atmospheric walk at 10pm through the woodlands, with only the sounds of the forest as company (sorry, I should say that Nick was there too!) We love being in amongst the nature, looking out for wildlife and admiring the light effect on the overall landscape as it settles. Safe to say, we didn’t spot much in the dusk light!

One of the trails we rode was out to Loch Mallachie, taking us up through ancient woodland with views of snow on the Cairngorms. The ancient Scots Pine stand solid and tall, many with unusual forms where the trunks split and twist around each other. We took a long walk around the Loch as there are Ospreys in that area but sadly, they were evasive. We were however treated to lots of Chaffinch and might have seen Great Crested Tits. We definitely saw people swimming in the loch, brave souls for sure as it was bloomin’ cold water (tested with the big toe) Packed lunch waterside was delightful among birdsong, watching the breeze across the water uplift the underside of lily pads, creating a kind of shimmer effect on the surface, like fluttering sequins. From there, a ride back through Boat of Garten into Aviemore to the swell of tourists for coffee and a bun and then back to enable Jigsaw to taste the freedom of the forest (a 10m circle amount anyhow)

Riding out to Loch Einich we were in for a visual treat causing us to wrack our O Level Geography brains! Wide alluvial plains, sandy sections, further eroded by water flows and rocky sections, marking the retreat of the glaciers that had once covered the area, carving out the spectacular landscape. The higher the track climbed, the mountain sides changed from tree’s to moorland and wilderness. Some sections reminded us of African plains, sparse trees but flat with dry shrubbery. The valley shape remaining soft, wide crescent curvature, revealing waterfalls, in contrast to other craggy landscapes we’d seen on the islands. No Ospreys again but we did spot a woodpecker! The ride itself was fun, with other cyclists we had to get across a reasonably fast flowing river where the flow could very easily trash the battery, it was high enough. Our bikes are too heavy to carry over slippery rocks. We ditched the socks and succumbed to having wet footwear. The slightly different return sections were very muddy and wet so it didn’t matter anyway! Especially for Nick, who wheel planted into mud. Honest, I didn’t laugh, schadenfreude and all that! At base, Jigsaw came into her own too, spotting a red squirrel for us so we had a fab time tracking it through the trees. Suffice it to say, there’s so much around this area, we’ll be back for sure.

Breaking up the journey back South we stopped overnight in Edinburgh, the route was spectacular crossing over the new Queensferry Bridge, adjacent to the old Forth Road and Railway bridges. The new bridge is a gentle, delicate design in contrast to the equally attractive in their own way, solidity of the older iron and suspension bridges. In Edinburgh we had a wander around in the afternoon sunshine, taking in the usual spots and lazing in Princes Street Gardens with an ice cream. From there we routed to Holy Island and Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve (last time I was here was aged 10 on a school field trip) We’ve seen some weird and wonderful homes on wheels but never a converted Ice Cream Van! We cycled over the tidal causeway and spent the afternoon around the island, bird and seal watching before a seriously windy ride back before the tide stranded us. We avoided the social media ‘trend’ for building a stack of stones, cairn style. We both have views on this having read about its very destructive impact on the fragile ecosystem. There are few areas of real solitude and seclusion on this planet, so why man needs to put their stone stacked footprint on an area of such natural beauty for social media reasons is beyond us.

So anyhow, Bugs Bunny style “That’s All Folks!” We are back at the Redditch aire, we’ve had our second jabs, done our washing and as of typing are about to head off to another country… by plane this time and without Jigsaw, who’s being right royally pampered by Wendy and Terry. Watch this space for the update of that interlude next weekend, which will be spectacularly explosive 🙂

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