The small town of Bo’ness sits on the shores of the Firth of Forth just a stones throw from the huge oil refinery at Grangemouth and between the two one can find a large area of flat reclaimed land, largely composed of tipped waste material from the area’s coal mining and iron smelting past. I’ve visited the area a couple of times, once to Collect sand for my sand collection and another looking for brick marks and knew it to be a good place to explore on one of my Swifty kick scooters.
However, in mid-March after a rather wet and cold winter, the ground was not in the best condition for kick scooting. With part of the route well-maintained tarmac cycleways and part on rough off-road tracks, I had to choose either the faster Swifty Zero with its protective mudguards, or the more off-road orientated Swifty Air, more at home on rough surfaces but without the protection of mudguards – they just do not fit with larger tyres. Anyway, for better or for worse, I chose the Swifty Air and set off from the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway Museum car park, heading west towards Grangemouth.
My plan was to follow the shore as best I could, making use of whatever paths and trails were available. Of course, things started off well, nice smooth tarmac made for a swift and smooth ride, despite a head-wind from the west. Soon, however, after many curious glances from local dog walker, tarmac changed to compacted gravel, which in turn changed to mud the consistency of liquid chocolate. It did not take long before my trousers were caked in mud from both wheels, and I was wondering if my choice of mudguardless scooter was the right one.
Surface conditions did not improve and I decided to change my route, taking to the pavement along the A904, not that this was much improvement on the off-road sections, with pot-holes and flooded area every few yards. Perhaps summer would have been a better time to visit. I stuck with the pavement until reaching the entrance to Kinneil Kerse WWTW – in other words, the sewage works, and a well-surfaced access road that would lead me back to the shore.
Recent heavy rain was still evident in the flooded fields on both sides of the access road and drainage ditches were full to overflowing. However, slightly drier conditions appeared when I reached the higher ground bordering the coast. I then followed a dirt road back towards Bo’ness, stopping at the large lagoons to see what bird life was around. Not a lot was the answer, I suspect due to the tide being out and the birds feeding elsewhere. I did spot a small flock of teal duck at the outflow pipes.
The surface was variable and far from ideal even for the Swifty Air, lots of very deep puddles and even deeper areas of sticky mud where motorcycles had churned up the ground, no doubt illegally. I made use of the puddles to clean some of the mud from the Swifty. Despite the conditions underfoot, the scenery was great, the weather warm and sea birds were dotted all about the place. Soon, the mud gave way back to lovely tarmac and I re-joined the smooth cycleway I had used earlier, making good headway with the wind to my back. By the time I was back at the car my once sodden trousers had dried out and I reflected that a good time had been had yet again with my Swifty Air kick scooter.
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