Today’s picture, taken by Mrs Tootlepedal, shows how much emphasis I place on my role as style icon when I visit the gym. She apologises for any slight blurring in the picture but says that she was laughing while she took it for some reason that she wouldn’t tell me about.
I visited the gym under pressure from Dropscone who actually arrived at the house and picked me up to take me there. I was very grateful really because the temperature was standing at -5° at the time. I found a fairly comfortable recumbent cycle trainer and pedalled a notional 16 miles in an hour at about 80 rpm for the whole hour on a 50% resistance. This is a faster cadence than I could manage on the bike but of course there is no wind in your face when you are in the gym. I was also able to check my heart rate and I was pleasantly surprised at how low it stayed (max 144) as I felt that I was trying quite hard.
I haven’t taken my pulse while cycling for the last four years and the same amount of exercise when I last used a gym before I started cycling a lot would have had my rate up to about 160 or more so obviously four years of steady pedalling have done me some good.
Since the forecast is for freezing conditions for most of the next week, I will certainly go back to the gym again now Dropscone has given me the taste for it. He was much more adventurous than I was and did rowing and sit ups as well a vigorous work out on a bike. We had coffee and scones afterwards but felt that our appetites had not be quite as honed as they would have been if we had been out in the fresh air. Mrs Tootlepedal joined us for coffee after singing in the church choir.
After coffee, I spent some time trying to catch another brambling or a chaffinch taking off from the plum tree. It all went to show just how lucky I had been yesterday because it was a complete failure. I did take a few pictures while I was trying. Chaffinches are our earliest birds each day.
Towards lunchtime, the greenfinches arrived.
In the afternoon Mrs Tootlepedal went to help with making costumes for the pantomime so I packed the big camera up, put sandycam in my pocket and set out to walk up the last of Langholm’s four hills. When I walked up Warbla on Thursday, I had no intention of walking up any of the other three hills. Even on Friday, when I walked up Timpen, I thought that two days in a row would be more than enough for my knees but the still, sunny and freezing weather had made the idea of walking up all four very tempting and after yesterday’s visit to the summit of Whita, it felt as though it would be a crime not to use the opportunity to round off the lot.
The conditions underfoot were rather icy in places so I put on my Yaktrax and strode out with confidence. I say ‘strode’ but plod would would be more accurate. My track up to Castle Hill, led through me one of the few scrubby woods on our surrounding hills.
I was able to look over at Timpen as I started the climb.
The climb to the top of Castle Hill is short but fairly steep and it was my intention to pause for a moment on the top and then return home. However, when I got to the top, the views were so good and the going underfoot so easy that I decided to walk along the ridge to Potholm Hill. I looked back at the town first…
…and then set off along the ridge.
The freezing conditions paradoxically made the walking much easier as the boggy bits were quite solid and walking along the ridge was most enjoyable.
I stopped at the highest point to look back along the ridge towards Langholm
The tussocky grass makes the walk look less snowy than it actually was underfoot but the track was firm and the Yaktrax comfortably dealt with icy puddles and slippery rocks.
The conditions were so good for someone with suspect knees that I decided to go right along the ridge before descending to the track home.
It was steeper than it looked going down to the little col at Wrae Hass.
But it was manageable and I was soon looking down towards Potholm Farm with the Esk beyond.
Once down to Potholm, my way back lay along the Longfauld track.
And this led me gently downhill until I arrived on the Castleholm. I was on the side that has been in perpetual shadow and here things looked a lot more wintery than they had on top of the ridge 700 feet higher.
It didn’t take me long to get home and Mrs Tootlepedal soon joined me after her costume party. I may have given the impression that the whole trip was a breeze but looking at my watch when I got home showed me that I had taken well over two hours to do the five mile walk. I certainly could not have gone any further or any faster. It has taken me four days in all to climb the hills but one day, soon after I came to Langholm, I ran up all four in one go in eighty minutes. Those were the days.
In a sign of the times, the only other person I met while I was out on the hill was talking on a mobile phone as he passed me.
I was looking forward to a restful time for the rest of the day, tucked up in my comfy chair against the radiator in the sitting room after a hot bath. Sadly before I could have the bath, a terrible noise signalled the terminal malfunctioning of our central heating boiler. As a result I am writing this while warming my hands from time to time on a guttering candle* and hoping that the promised engineer does indeed turn up tomorrow morning. This was a bit of a downer after four such good days.
The views from the walk are not as good as they should be as the little camera’s battery ran out early on and the big camera didn’t take too kindly to the sub zero temperatures. It didn’t help that my glasses misted up as soon as I looked through the viewfinder.
I found a chaffinch looking rather surprised to receive the nomination as flying bird of the day.
*the guttering candle was exaggeration for literary effect. I actually had a nice coal fire at my back.