When it all Goes Pear-Shaped …
… The Pear-Shaped (person) gets muddy! So now that has got your attention … make a brew and settle down to read.
So I set off as usual to catch the 22 in Kirriemuir High Street, via the 20. The 20 was a few minutes late but arrived as the clock changed to the time the 22 leaves at … except the 22 was not there … not even a whiff of exhaust or the purr of a distant engine! He had left early again. The one thing I cannot stand is early running buses but what is more galling is for all the weeks I have been using that service it has never left early once until yesterday!
So for the second day I found myself on a 27A headed to Forfar … it comes over the flyover like the bus below (that is actually the 11:45 bus out of Kirriemuir photographed form a high hill). This morning it was late and the male students particularly obnoxious with their fart commentary. I was not staying on that bus to Arbroath and the only bus left to go to Dundee was also a College Bus so I got off the bus at East High Street and walked. No not to Dundee!
I set off to walk to Restenneth Priory. I didn’t have the path network map downloaded so I walked along a B road hopping on and off the verge when the pavement ran out and vehicles approached. A special thank you to the very courteous driver of the Laird wagon that was moved well across the road to avoid spraying me with the liquid road salt … you sir are a gentleman!
It was very restful and peaceful there and I was very tempted to do some Tai Chi practice in the cloisters. It was fascinating to see where buildings had been added and the tower just cut into to take a roof support.
It hadn’t taken me long to get there and by now I had downloaded the path network guide; I could see a path leading off the opposite side of the road I had walked down and running behind a quarry and looping back into the town centre. At any rate it seemed a better bet than walking back on the same road. It was a good grassy path and the views of the gravel extraction and silt ponds was quite interesting if not picturesque. I had to cross a minor road which did have mud on it but wasn’t too bad so when I got to the next one I wasn’t overly concerned initially.
Then I realised it had knee deep mud at the sides of the road … tentatively I stepped forward – with relief the mud was actually semi solidified with all the aggregate in it. I crossed the road section with a few little skids and stepped onto the mud at the other side expecting it to be semi solid … it wasn’t! well at least to ankle deep it wasn’t.
Now I wasn’t wearing my sandals; I was wearing clogs with socks. One clog got left behind in the mud and to retrieve it I had to put my socked foot into mud too. I did not fall over though so the mud was restricted to the sock, the clog, a little on the other clog and splatters on my freshly laundered jeans. Mental note to self – put clean dry socks in backpack!
So there I was with a damp muddy foot and no choice but to put it in my clog. I certainly wasn’t going back across so I had to go on. I continued to a small road and could have turned right and back into the town which would have been about a 4 mile walk … but my now wet muddy foot was not sore so I decided to go straight on. I walked up a country road, pausing to watch a buzzard being chased off by a crow, two buzzards hunting together and some cock pheasants.
Time for a brief aside on local dialect? I always knew Cleavers as Goose Grass – these are the dried seedheads. Locally they are known as Sticky Willy and they certainly are sticky in their green velcro outfit earlier in the year. Dog doesn’t have too much bother with them because his coast is short but I used to have a wirehaired pointer who just could not help but poke his nose into undergrowth and every morning through late summer we had to groom him after his walk because these things got deep into his fur – he hated being groomed but he never learned (a bit like he never learned not to lick toads!)
I continued up the road until I reached the junction at the far end of Kingsmuir right over the tunnel exit for the old railway line
What both the rail line and the gravel pits/landfill demonstrated very clearly is how flexible an adaptable nature is when man disrupts the landscape; flora and fauna return once the land is returned to their care – everything has a life span and everything is somehow recycled.
I turned right towards Forfar until I found a path on the left which I followed until it became a farm track. It got quite muddy in places but it was clearly shown as the path so I carried on. I reached a gate and could see the top word on the sign “Danger” from some distance but had to get right to it and squint to make out what the danger was “Bull Being Moved”. I had a good look around and there was no sign of a bull, never mind one being moved so I climbed the neat style provided over the gate concluding that this was a farmer who liked to discourage walkers. I had a brief chat with the herd of cows and calfies (think they were Aberdeen Angus) and continued on. At the far end of the track I spotted this reel of barbed wire in the undergrowth – not not only is this a risk for walkers and wildlife but what a waste of money!
When I got to a junction between the path and a road I was finally able to take my clog off and shake out the grit – I had not been able to find a single stone or piece of wood that was dry to step onto – just wet grass! I also had a wee blether with these ponies.
I was intrigued by this fence at it’s jaunty angle and also this wee bird – it looked very Robin shaped but it definitely only has a red throat not a red breast – so at the moment I am stumped.
From here I had a choice again to end the walk with a quick march down to Forfar or to carry on over Balmashanner Hill. Can I just stop you there I know you just read that as Bal-ma-shan-ner ) unless you live locally of course) but it is spoken as “Bummie” … I know that seems odd but there is a wee place between Forfar and Kirriemuir which is sign posted Ballinshoe although it is spoken “Benchie”. I climbed up the road, pleased to note that although I had to step onto the verge briefly to let a farm vehicle past I made it to the top of the hill only slightly out of breath and without stopping.
I managed to take some picture of a deer grazing on what I guess is winter wheat shoots and continued up to the top of the hill and a foursided shelter and viewpoint. I had my lunch here (and took that picture of the bus on the flyover).
I continued down past the war memorial, through the quarry and down to Dundee Road, turning right towards Forfar. By the time I arrived back at East High Street I had walked 8 miles. I am really pleased with that and so far my foot seems to be coping fine with the extended distances.
I decided I wasn’t ready to go straight home so after a chat with an acquaintance who wanted to know what I was doing to lose weight I caught a 27 to Arbroath and the X7 to Dundee. I could have done without Grandma (making pointed comments that little boy couldn’t see and obviously expected me to jump up and move to a seat without a view) and Grandpa (talked at the same level as the little boy) and their grandchild (running commentary the whole journey) … but that is the joy of public transport. Whilst I waited at Seagate Bus Station Toxic Friend butted back into my life – back form his travels and needing urgent answers (sigh). I caught the 22 back to Kirriemuir and the 20 home.
My day was good, I enjoyed the walk and the views BUT I am missing the routine of the 22 being a reliable bus every morning and if it isn’t sorted out I will follow up with the company.
I am going to leave you with this lovely contrail across Balmashanner Hill this afternoon – a journey begins with a single step and now my steps are starting to join up into the journey I want to make.