Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Noisy And Sickening - My Wind Farm Pilgrimage

The other weekend I combined two of my great loves - cycling and wind farms. NIMBYs and climate deniers like to scaremonger about turbines killing tourism. Some go even further - check out this Argyll community councillor’s crusade. She’s off to the UN to tell them wind farms increase CO2 emissions, make people ill and result in opponents getting death threats. Good luck with that.

While there’s no evidence wind farms deter visitors - indeed many developments are attractions in their own right - there’s plenty of evidence that cycle tourism is an important sector of the visitor economy. The other weekend I attempted to put the two together.

Having been granted a day pass from The Bairn and Wife-features I checked the maps and set off for the nearest wind farm to Musselburgh. An absolutely glorious bike ride ensued, weaving up and down the rolling East Lothian countryside - mostly up if I’m honest.

Apart from a slightly hairy bit between Ormiston and the turn-off for Humbie I was able to use very quiet B roads. My ultimate destination? Dun Law wind farm. It produces 120 Gwh of electricity a year, enough to supply 24,000 homes. It’s pretty visible from the main A68 road as you cross into the Borders.
Dun Law. Turning blades and swirling mist.

And it was the A68 that proved the only real hurdle in my renewable pilgrimage. The path beside the road runs out a couple of hundred yards short of the turn off that goes up the hill to Soutra Aisle from where you get a pretty close view of the wind farm. So, after a bit of trudging in a lumpy grass verge and an extremely cautious hop across the A68 I made it.

I counted almost 60 turbines in a row, their bases smothered in swirling mist. I could feel an enormous smile stretching across my face. I noticed a couple of very large birds of prey strutting about in a nearby field and watched a massive flock of geese honk by. None of them got minced by the blades as they steered well clear.

After a while I became aware of a strange, and frankly annoying whooshing sound. Then it dawned on me. It was the traffic over the horizon on the A68. Stop the traffic and it would be so peaceful.

If only Soutra Aisle was still an epicentre of herbal remedies, perhaps I could have calmed my queasiness.

I desperately wanted to spend some money in the local visitor economy and fill in some sort of form to say how much I enjoyed my trip. But the nearest shop was shut and from what I could tell the local pub was further up the A68 which only an idiot would attempt to cycle on.

This website describes the Borders as “Scotland at its traditional best“ and lists Dun Law wind farm as “thing to do”. Well, I’ve done it and will consider making a cycle pilgrimage there a new tradition. 

1 comment:

  1. Over the past few years we have driven down this road a few times and have stopped in this area to admire the wind farm here.
    You mention only an idiot would attempt to cycle on the A68.
    I was in Lauder (doing that very idiotic trip) with my bike parked up at the back of a B&B. I had trouble sleeping so turned on the telly to see news reports of Princess Di's accident in Paris.
    In the morning I got about twenty miles down the road before the rain started. It pished all the way to Newcastle. Still idiotic after all these years but yes you are right,the A68 is a great road for a leisurely drive but not ideal for cyclists.