Today’s picture is another from my sister Mary’s visit to Regents Park the other day.
The forecast got it right and today was sunshine from start to finish with a very light wind. I had hoped to do a long run on the speedy bike to celebrate such a day but the broken wheel put paid to that. It was very cold (4 degrees C) at breakfast time so I waited an hour for things to warm up slightly before getting the slow bike out and stocking up with filled rolls and bananas from John’s shop. When the temperature hit 7 degrees, I set off up the B709 to Eskdalemuir. This is a steady pull so I was quite happy when I got to the village after 13 miles to stop and take a picture or two. I was going to cross a lot of bridges during the ride so I started with this view of the Esk at Eskdalemuir.
They have a very plain church at Eskdalemuir which is a sharp contrast to very ornate Buddhist Temple a mile or so up the road.
But it certainly offers a picturesque burial ground for its worshippers. If you have to be buried, you could do worse than to be buried here.
I turned left at the church and took the road towards Lockerbie. This swoops up and down as it crosses small burns and the headwaters of ther Black Esk before plunging down into Borland village where it crosses the Dryfe Water.
The road climbs out of the Dryfe valley and drops into Annandale. I didn’t take the road to Lockerbie this time but kept on along the fine road they have built for the log lorries that take the timber out of the vast Eskdalemuir forests. This was a new road for cycling on for me so that was a treat. I wasn’t passed by too many lorries today and it was very nice to have such a fine road to myself. I crossed the M74 with the old A74 beside it (which I often cycle up) just where the wood burning power station and timber yards are which are the destination for many of the log lorries. This was not a day when the need for a three lane motorway was entirely obvious.
I am not complaining though, because it gives me a nice quiet service road to cycle along when I want a long flat ride. The country on the west side of the M74 is very different from the hilly country I had come out of but it still offers very fine views. These are the Queensberry hills on the west side of Annandale.
They were getting the harvest in here as I passed, a week or two later than they were on the East coast.
I had to make a little diversion to the north as the river Annan was in my way. I crossed the river at Millousebridge bridge built in the early 19th century but I was struck by this fine building just before the bridge. It was a school at one time.
This was my first crossing of the River Annan.
The bridge is a listed building but it seemed quite safe as I pedalled across. I headed on to Templand, pausing to enjoy the view of the hills to the east of Annandale…
.. and then took the road down to Lochmaben where I stopped beside the Castle Loch for a roll and a banana.
I headed south to Dalton, Hoddam Castle and then to Annan where the best scenery of the ride came to an end. The Solway basin still seems to have a haze over it which spoils the fine views of the Solway and the Lake District which you should be getting.
From Annan I headed to Gretna where I stopped to eat a sticky bun that I had purchased in Eastriggs on the way. I was delighted to see no less than three tortoiseshell butterflies on a tub of council planting.
You could hardly move at Gretna Green for people wandering about in wedding dresses. Its not my idea of a romantic spot at all. I often wonder how many couples are disappointed when they actually see the place of their dreams.
I headed down the road to Corries Mill where the River Sark provides the border between England and Scotland. It is not quite a Rio Grande.
From there I went down to the A7 and joined the morning ride route through Canonbie and so home. It turned out to be a ride of 70 miles and it took me a long time as pedalling the slow bike up hills is a tough proposition and in undulating country, it is hard to get the momentum going that allows you to swoop up small hills as you can on a road bike. As a result, I only managed an average of 12mph for the trip. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed myself (but found the last ten miles a bit of a chore).
Once home, I admired the hedges that Mrs Tootlepedal had been clipping in my absence and had a quick bath before going out to the Buccleuch Centre for a concert. This was given by a veteran Scottish folk trio called North Sea Gas. They were excellent musicians and could sing fine three part harmony too and we enjoyed the concert although it had possibly had three too many numbers in the second half. We both felt that it would have been even better for us if they had interspersed the many rousing numbers with a few more gentle songs as the vigorous performances of fierce verse and chorus songs got slightly wearing. I would certainly go to hear them again.
It’s been a full day.