Baking, bunting and bagpipes

Traprain Law race

Saturday 13th June 2015

Traprain Law looks a lot less dominant than its 724 feet. The Lammermuir Hills perhaps offer a larger, more dominant backdrop, and the surrounding folds and rolls of the countryside reduces the hill’s scale. Indeed, Traprain Law does not stand out with the same singularity as its nearby neighbour at North Berwick.

I’d later read that if you walk, or squeeze, through the gap between the two summit stones – Maiden Stone and the Mother Rock – your fertility will improve and you will receive good fortune. Had I known I would have attempted during the annual East Linton gala race, maybe in an attempt to secure marginal, spiritual gains. Obviously, there was no equivalent for the weather spirits, as most other gala day revelers were dressed for winter – the race registration volunteers had been all sat, wearing wooly hats and gloves. Not even the pipe band music could drive a warm beat under the cool, grey Scottish sky.

The joy of running is as much the challenge as the unfamiliarity of one’s surroundings. Yes, as I ran along Main Street, with the lithe elites already advancing ahead, I recognised the red sandstone buildings; the stone is very much synonymous with this area of East Lothian. Once on to the river bank path, however, I was immediately into new territory. I was unaware of the wooden steps that would lead up from and then back down to the River Tyne. The route quickly entered a natural oasis, despite the towering concrete bridge of the A1 overhead.

River Tyne crossing....dancing

The river crossing was exciting and refreshing; briefly sapping the legs during the short river bank cling between gorse with long green grass underfoot. A road climb followed, then farmland track and long-grass alongside an arable field; every step hidden under greenery. I gladly accepted the support from Rose and my Dad before scaling over a wooden stile then shuffling up through a small woodland. The true scale of Traprain Law immediately rises to the right. The flagged route veered up sharply between orange flowering gorse and a scramble over small rock slabs and broken stones.

The River Tyne was again soon crossed via a footbridge. The descent from the top passed too quickly and was followed by a quick section of tarmac and farmland track. Once over the river the now familiar path guided me east passed swans, majestic river views and vibrant green trees. The return of the wooden steps was only a minor hindrance; I started to see runners just ahead, tiring more than me. Back on Main Street I finally caught the woman in pink and focused ahead on two blokes. I’d obviously been enjoying the wilderness too much and would not catch either of them before the gala field, awash with bunting and finish line applause.

For years I’d likely driven passed innumerable times and always glanced at the lump of rock; after all, Traprain Law forms a formidable natural feature in the East Lothian landscape. I’ll now look upon the hill and remember how it did indeed give me some good running fortune.

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