Today’s picture is the monument bathed in evening sunlight.
In theory, it’s a very short blog today: got up, went bicycling, went to bed. In real life it was a little more complicated than that. I had set my heart on cycling 100 miles today as the forecast was very good. It didn’t work out like that. We had to have breakfast after the B & Bs and that meant well after 9 o’clock. I like to start promptly if I am going to do a long ride because it often uses main roads and the quicker you are out on a Sunday, the less traffic there is. So that was one hit against the plan….and then the speedy bike had been making a rather suspicious noise during yesterday’s ride and I didn’t want to get caught out 50 miles from home and that was hit number two…and lastly I couldn’t make up my mind where I wanted to go. In the end and after a great deal of havering, I decided on the slow bike and a hilly ride, Route 7 from the Langholm Cycle Rides leaflet which I have never done in it its entirety before.
So finally, just before Mrs Tootlepedal brained me for dithering, I set off up towards Eskdalemuir. It was a lovely day and I wasn’t hurrying. I had the little camera in my pocket and I stopped from time to time to take pictures and I have put a severely pruned selection on here.
By coincidence, the first part of my journey took in some of the Prehistoric Trail sites and the picture below shows one of the two stone circles.
I went on through Eskdalemuir and soon came to the Samye Ling buddhist temple. I had been passed by a convoy of 20 motorcyclists on my way up and I saw that they were all parked in the car park here. Somehow Buddhist temples and motor cyclists aren’t the first thing you would think of as a match.
You can see from the flags that there was a bit of a wind blowing but it was across and helping rather than against at this point.
I went over the county boundary (334m) on the splendid new surface that had been laid down there. Up to this point the ride had basically been twenty miles gently uphill so a bit of downhill was very welcome. The road surface varied between billiard table and bomb site so I had had to keep an eye out for craters. The new road down the hill was superb. It is a gentle decline but with the smooth surface and the wind by now basically behind me, I sped down joyfully.
After thirty miles, I stopped at the Tushielaw Inn for a lunch of sausage, egg and chips and a cup of coffee.
You may think that I was leaning over when I took this picture but the roof line is pretty horizontal. It just that it is an old building.
After lunch I set off to the East on the road to Hawick. This involved going over another ridge but with the wind behind me, I floated up the hill without too much effort. It is a lovely section of road.
This is Alemoor reservoir which you come across on both sides of the road near the top of the hill. Just past the reservoir, the road tops out at 331m and rewards you with a wonderful view.
Then there is a steep plunge downhill (too steep for me, I go down with both hands on the brakes). Then in no time at all, I was in Hawick. By this time I had done over 40 miles on a very heavy bike with fat tyres at an average speed of 13 mph including going over 1000 ft twice so I was pretty pleased with my progress. I paused for a couple of jam sandwiches and then set off up the Slitrig Water towards Newcastleton. This road starts gently and then heads up into the hills giving ten miles of steady climbing. It passes through a pig farm on the way.
The wind was now in my face and once the road got out onto the open hill, it was quite breezy and I found it hard going. Once again, the views more than compensated for the work. The road passes close to the old Waverley Line and this splendid viaduct is a reminder of days gone by.
(I am sure that if Bruce reads this post, he will have pictures if trains crossing the viaduct.) As well as the railway, there was another of the curiously pointy hills that are common in the Hawick area.
At the summit (about 350m) a railway preservation group has been doing some very slowly progressing work for many years.
They have laid a very short section of rail which you can see in the picture. It had been an arduous slog to the summit and I had only managed 9 mph for the eleven miles. From there it ought to have been another glorious swoop downhill to Newcastleton but, sad to say, the wind got even stronger and I was forced to pedal strongly just to get down a hill I should have been free wheeling down. When I got to the flatter roads past Hermitage, it was just as bad as going up to the summit. I was cheered up by this friendly face.
It was oddly appropriate to meet a llama because earlier in the ride I had passed the lamas’ temple. When I got to Newcastleton I had only just got the average for the twenty miles from Hawick above 10 mph.
Considering the road from Newcastleton to Langholm over the hill takes in another 1000ft summit, I stopped and ate the last of my twix bar and had a banana. I was struggling up the hill past the golf course when I saw a strangely familiar car parked in a lay-by. It was Mrs Tootlepedal bearing cake and orange juice.
This is the view from the parking place back down to Newcastleton. You can see why I was glad to pause. Mrs Tootlepedal set off home and I pedalled up to the county boundary (330m), the fourth time I had been over 1000 ft on the ride. From there, it wasn’t long before I was home. The winds over the last 30 miles had reduced my average from 13 mph in Hawick to 11 and a bit and the riding part of the day had taken me six and a half hours. Still, I can’t imagine that there are many 75 mile rides that have a better fine scenery percentage (99.5% and very varied) than this one and the weather had been very good, brilliantly sunny but not too hot.
While I had been out enjoying myself, Mrs Tootlepedal and our neighbour Liz had been hard at work cutting down a hawthorn tree. I had told her on no account do to do it while I was out and I find this is a policy that often pays dividends.
Then Mrs Tootlepedal made an excellent sausage and vegetable stew for supper and I went to bed.