Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Cushie Sike and other favourite burns

Not many exciting things happen at Skip Cottage! A couple of years ago, the water pipes supplying the cottage were upgraded, as indeed they were all over the region. It was the event of the year! I took the opportunity to ask where my drinking water came from, and was told that it came from the Black Esk Reservoir.

Living in Scotland of course most of us give little thought to our water. There's usually plenty of it - dare I remind you of last summer? The quality is good too. When you live somewhere where you have to go shopping for all your drinking water, as I had to do for five years when I lived abroad, you think carefully about your water input.... and output.

We need water to survive. My watering can holds seven litres. My body contains about 42 litres of water, or around six watering cans worth of water, as I like to think of it. Four of these (28 litres) are inside our cells, the remainder outside. And it's most import that the liquid within our blood vessels, half a can, or about three and a half litres, is kept up, otherwise our blood cells have difficulty circulating around. We can manage without food for a while, but a couple of days with no water causes major problems. Hopefully you won't ever be trapped in a collapsed building, or have a stroke and are not found by a family member or neighbour, as the consequences are serious. You die.

So here's a simple question. Let's say you don't eat anything one day, but drink two litres of fluids (water, tea, soft drinks). How much do you pee out? (Answer at the foot of the page)

That's enough physiology for now.

This is a pic of part of the working area of the garden. I have two water butts, collecting from the roof of the 'shed'. Not nearly enough of course. Given two or three days or really hot weather, which we've just had, with containers needing to be watered, the supply soon runs out.

So, last Saturday I set out to find the Black Esk Reservoir, which is off the Boreland - Eskdalemuir Road, a short walk in from Sandyford. I picked another great day for a walk. I had my camera with me of course, and did some geographing.

The reservoir was constructed in 1962. I took this pic on top of the dam. Those blogallies of similar vintage to myself will have no problem guessing what tune I was humming to myself as I continued my walk. (Answer is here.) Couldn't get the dam tune out of my head all day!

I followed the Black Esk up its valley. In case you are wondering, I did think about it, but discretion being the better part of valour, I stayed on the left bank!

This old bridge was north of Old Garwaldshiels. I felt right at home when I discovered it was built of old railway line and wooden sleepers. It's not had much use in recent years, that's for sure.

I found this idyllic spot on the Black Esk, well off the forestry tracks. The lush grass on either side of the burn, is hemmed in by mature forestry plantations. I put up a roe deer who was no doubt surprised to find itself having to share its picnic spot.

As the first generation trees are felled, it seems to be Forestry Commission policy now to leave the areas on either sides of burns free from new conifer planting, and in many cases native broadleaved species are being reintroduced. This little burn goes up the Nether Cleuch. The names on the map hereabouts are wonderful. I especially like the Muckle White Hope. There are the Little Grain and Upper Grain burns, and my favourite, Cushie Sike, which drain into the Black Esk.

This is where Piper Sike comes under a forest track into a splendid little pool.

And looking the other way, where it flows down to the reservoir, which you can just see in the distance. Right, all this talk about running water, I must away.....

(Answer to the question. Almost all the water we drink is absorbed, and the main way we get rid of water is in urine. But some (let's say half a litre) goes out as we breathe and as perspiration. That's fairly constant. So if you drink a couple of litres, your kidneys will provide you with a litre and a half to pee away. And if you drink five litres, then you will get rid of four and a half litres of urine. But you knew that!)

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