Today’s picture is a cheery blackbird that was serenading me as I walked round the garden this morning.
As you can see, the sun was very much in evidence today, although a few flakes of snow did fall on me while I was pedalling. It was still very chilly (2°C) but the fact that the wind had dropped a bit and that the sun was out persuaded me to don enough layers to make cycling comfortable and take the speedy bike out for a run. I set out up the Wauchope road on a ‘suck it and see’ basis as I was not sure how I would get on but things turned out well and I did two six -and-a-bit mile out and backs to end up with a very satisfactory 25 miles at a gentle pace.
The sun shone for the most past but it was a patchy affair as this picture of the Minsca windmills shows. They are all the same colour but some were in the sun and some were in the shade.
The fact that they were pointing directly at me meant that I had to face the wind on my way back but it was far less strong than it has been lately and I enjoyed the ride and finished with no ill effects.
There were plenty of bramblings to be seen when I got home.
During my pedal, I passed Mrs Tootlepedal at her manure mountain and she gave me an encouraging cry of, “Allez Tootle” as I whizzed by.
After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal was going to a colleague’s hen party in Carlisle so I was very happy to find that Sandy fancied a photographic trip. He came down and we set off over the hill to Newcastleton. The day was sunny, the road was clear and as an added bonus we hadn’t gone more than a mile or so before we saw four wild goats unusually close to the road. Naturally we stopped.
As we drove on, we passed several more groups of the goats on the moor. Feeding must be hard for them to find because they don’t often come so far over and so near the road.
We dropped down into Newcastleton and turned north on the road to Hawick. Having met the wild on the moor, it wasn’t long before we encountered the woolly in a field.
There were two alpacas in the field and they were as interested in us as we were in them.
I felt that I should try to do justice to the very fetching eyelashes on the white one.
The goats and the alpacas were incidental pleasures as our main target for the trip was to be found a few miles further north at the top of the hill.
Here, in the middle of nowhere, a small band of enthusiasts are painstakingly and slowly restoring a short section of the old Waverley Line that once ran from Edinburgh to Carlisle.
They have coaches…
(here’s one with Sandy showing the scale…)
…and they have a railcar which gives short trips for visitors in season.
..and they have all sorts of things lying around.
Some vandal had piled a load of breeze blocks in front of a great photo opportunity. Unforgivable.
They even had a bridge to spare.
Two of the dedicated men gave us a warm welcome and showed us their first class carriage from the inside.
They invited us to have a good walk round so we did and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.
The coach in the background is part of their exhibition and we were allowed in to look at that too. It had some fine photographs from the collection of our friend Bruce who is a great railway enthusiast.
As we walked along the line, which runs on top of an embankment, we could look down and see the road which we had driven up. It is one of my favourite roads for cycling and driving.
We were offered a cup of tea but we didn’t have time to stay so we thanked them and went on our way. We hadn’t quite finished with the railway yet though as we took the opportunity of an empty road to stop and take a picture of the Shankend Viaduct a mile or two down the hill.
Soon we had reached the bottom of the hill and found ourselves among extensive fields of pigs, both great and small.
And not long after that we were in Hawick and ready to turn on to the main road to take us back to Langholm. Sandy had an evening appointment in Carlisle so we had no more time to linger though a couple of sparkling snow clad hills did detain us for a moment near the county boundary.
I managed to sneak the faithful Kangoo into the left hand picture.
We arrived home safely after an excellent 50 mile round trip with a tremendous variety of scenery to look at as we went along. After a pause to eat a tasty home-made chicken curry, I popped out on my slow bike to give Arthur some computer assistance in e-mailing four fairly interesting photographs to his son. This may have been my last chance to use the cycle lights for some time as the clocks go forward tonight and even if we don’t have spring, we definitely will have British summer time tomorrow.
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch and in the bottom right hand corner of the photo you can clearly see two snow flakes. I hope that these are the last we shall see until next winter.