Tank traps in Lossie Wood

An east:west split for the weather forecast- rain in the west and sun in the east – saw us heading to Elgin with our bikes strapped to the back of the car for a wee spin on the minor roads

Elgin-Lossie Wood-Lossiemouth

Elgin-Lossie Wood-Lossiemouth

We headed north-east from Elgin along a minor road I remembered from running the 10K race there a few months ago. We followed the road to Arthur’s Bridge at the edge of Lossie Woods – Grid ref NJ 256670. Our aim was to look for the tank traps in the woods and by following the main track north towards the sea we soon found these large structures. We’ve come across WW2 relics in the countryside before, and especially along the Moray coast, but these are very unusual in that they are intact and completely surrounded by trees.

Elgin-Lossie Wood-Lossiemouth

According to the Defence of Scotland Project (http://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/archaeology/projects/defence.pdf)
The man responsible for the Coastal defences in the north east of Scotland during World War 2 was Chief Royal Engineer G.A.Mitchel. (1896-1964). It had been noted that during 1938, that the Graf Zepplin photographed the northeast Scottish coast in great detail in preparation for a possible future invasion. Other German aircraft had also been seen photographing the coast around north east Scotland. Mitchell thought it highly likely that this area would be an ideal site for a beach landing invasion force by the German army, due to its sandy beaches and good communications.

Elsewhere these large concrete structures were removed and indeed following the war, they was a bounty paid for farmers to remove these from prime cultivation land. But these here are among the sand dunes which subsequently were planted with pines by the Forestry Commission.

Elgin-Lossie Wood-Lossiemouth

As well as the line of anti-tank traps are hexangular pill boexs. This one of which was in great condition. The concrete was intact.

Elgin-Lossie Wood-Lossiemouth

Returning through the forest we followed the Innes Canal. This short canal, like the nearby Spynie Canal, was constructed to drain the low-lying farmland between Lossiemouth and Speymouth. It as engineered in 1812 by Thomas Telford at the request of local landowners.

Elgin-Lossie Wood-Lossiemouth

We were dismayed to see the canal side completely dominated by giant hogweed. Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) was introduced into the UK in the 1800’s as an ornamental garden plant. However it has now become naturalised in many river catchments across Scotland. As with most invasive species Giant hogweed is capable of out-competing and dominating native plant species to the detriment of native biodiversity. Giant hogweed also presents a serious threat to human health as contact with its sap can result in blistering of the skin. We have come across it before on both the River Lossie and Findhorn.

Elgin-Lossie Wood-Lossiemouth

After returning to Arthur’s Bridge, we followed the road to Lossiemouth arriving as a food festival was almost finishing. Neil managed to get a few photos of the old plane cockpits and we bought an ice cream.

Elgin-Lossie Wood-Lossiemouth

Elgin-Lossie Wood-Lossiemouth

On the festival site were the remains of the old railway platforms at Lossiemouth. We returned to Elgin by following the old railway line. This route is not signed at all, and although it started off a little overgrown it soon opened into a wide dry, stoney farm track. An easy, albeit, bumpy cycle back. We passed the ruins of Spynie Palace which was for five centuries the residence of the bishops of Moray.

Elgin-Lossie Wood-Lossiemouth

Elgin-Lossie Wood-Lossiemouth

Elgin-Lossie Wood-Lossiemouth


More photos on Flickr here

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Winter Feast Duathlon: The Main Course

After my success in the wee duathlon I participated in last month, I thought I’d give the next one in the series a go. This series of duathlons organised by No Fuss Events is termed the Winter Feast series and this month’s event was the ‘Main Course’. Naturally this was bigger (tougher and longer) than last month’s ‘Appetiser’. This consisted of a 8 km run on road, beach and ‘trail’ ie on the rough grass and gorse at the top of the beach; followed by 25 km (two laps) of a hilly road cycle section and a final 5 km of the same road/beach as before. All of the above took place in the glorious setting of the roads and beaches between Arisaig and Morar, on the northwest coast of Scotland near the Isle of Skye. This location, as you may have realised, is on the edge of the Atlantic ocean and as we were in the middle of a weather pattern with westerly winds and rain and sleet coming in with those winds, was not the balmiest outing.

Duathlon event
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