Yesterday’s adventure was a goal-oriented walk through the Straiton Pond Local Nature Reserve and along a stretch of the Loanhead Railway Path. I admit that I was not excited about the walk itself; I was merely looking forward to ticking a goal off my 2020 goals list. But then I got to the reserve and I realised that the day was going to be super!
The trail has been on my radar for quite some time, but only because there is a decent size geocache trail along the route – and it’s not that terribly far from my cottage. Indeed, back in August, I thought I might walk to and from my doctor’s appointment with the plan of caching this trail on the return journey (the rainy weather meant I took a taxi instead).
What I hadn’t realised until yesterday, however, is that there is a fantastic little nature reserve just at the start of the trail. The reserve is a former clay pit that was in operation from about 1850 to the 1950s. It was designated as a nature reserve in 1991 (like the Roslin Moat) and the spot has slowly been reclaimed by nature.
The highlight of the reserve is a large pond that is home to several swans and ducks – not to mention fish, bugs, and various amphibians. The site is also home to a large oak plantation that is home to a wide range of birds and other small wildlife. But because the site is more than three miles from my cottage, situated next to a large shopping centre and alongside the bypass, it’s not really a “destination” for me! (After all, I live on what is essentially a 250-nature reserve!)
However, I am so incredibly happy that I got to experience the site yesterday. And I have my friend to thank for it!!
The decision for yesterday’s adventure walk came from my friend who knew I needed three more geocaches to meet my goal for the year. As most of the year’s caches have been found on walks that we’ve gone on together, I think he felt a bit of personal need for me to meet my goal. And that means he suggested this walk instead of my suggestion of walking to a ruined castle in the opposite direction.
I had been looking forward to the walk since it was suggested, but I admit that my anticipation was just for the fresh air and exercise (and the company). I wasn’t looking forward to the sights and sounds because I thought I was setting myself up for a basic walk along an access road next to a busy roadway. So, when we got to the nature reserve, I was immediately excited! Then we got to the pond and I was overjoyed to see the swans swimming straight for me. (But they just wanted food, which I didn’t have, so they weren’t happy. One even hissed at me!)
Leaving the nature reserve, the path led us under the overpass where we got to see three young graffiti artists setting up to paint a section of the walls. We spent several minutes looking at the existing artwork before making our way to the start of the railway path. And that’s where the super supper trail began!
The trail consists of 12 geocaches, each named for a “supper”. In Scotland, this refers to a menu item at a chip shop. The “supper” part means “with chips” (fries). So, a fish supper is fish and chips; a haggis supper is (deep-fried) haggis and chips (one of my favourite suppers!). We managed to find 8 of the 12, but the ones we didn’t find are ones that others have been unable to find recently. The suppers we got were mince pie, chicken, black pudding, scampi, chipsteak, smoked sausage, fish, and haggis. We also grabbed two caches on the way to the trail making for a total of 10 caches for the day. (Not bad for 5.5 hours!)
At the start of the day, I had 47 caches towards my 50-cache goal. But with these 10 caches, I have exceeded my 2020 geocaching goals. Of course, I will still try to grab more caches if my adventures take me near any opportunities because, well, why wouldn’t I?
In total, we walked more than 12.5 miles over the course of 5.5 hours – which equates to more than 26,000 steps. The weather was cold and crisp, but not bad for a brisk walk. (Thankfully, it was dry!) But I will have to get used to enjoying the cold since all my winter adventures this year will have to be enjoyed outside. This is also why I am (finally) ordering some warmer winter walking wear – something I’ve been saying I would do for several years now.