A leap of faith

Today’s guest picture has been sent by Langholm exile Joyce, now resident in the wilds of Canada.  She thinks that I ought to stop complaining about the weather here.


It was thirty degrees C warmer than that here today and the wind wasn’t too bad so I got the speedy bike out after breakfast and went off to check the state of the roads on the morning run.  They were terrible, with ever more potholes, gravel on corners and very soft verges to fall into if a car came the other way.  Luckily, I only met one car and got round safely but I don’t think that I will go round that route again on the speedy bike for a while.

The most notable thing about the trip was the sky.  To the south and west it looked promising but to the north and east, it was black as paint.  As I went up the back roads from Glenzierfoot to the Kerr, I got some strange lighting effects.  My phone did its best to capture some of them.

windows at the Fauldie
Fauldie with brightness to the left and darkness to the right.
Cottage at Fauldie
Bright eyes at the cottage there.

I stopped again going up the hill to Tarcoon.


It looked as though I was going in the wrong direction.

I was going in the wrong direction and hit a heavy rain shower on the last few miles back into Langholm.   However, as usual in the winter, I was well protected against the elements and I enjoyed the ride, especially as the wind blew me home through the rain down the Wauchope road.

The rain stopped soon after I got back and I was able to capture a perching chaffinch in a sliver of thin sunshine.


A minute later, the sun had disappeared again.


The promise of better weather convinced us to have an early lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I set off for Canonbie in the car to have a little walk.  We stopped at the Moorland bird feeders, as it was my day to fill them but they were quite full enough not to need topping up so we drove on.

We parked at the gate to the old A7 and walked along the road to Byreburnfoot.  Our eye was caught by a spectacular show of fruiting pods on a lichen.


When we got to Byreburnfoot, we turned and walked up the Byre Burn itself.  This little stream runs in a steep gorge but we found a place where even elderly folk could scramble down the bank to a little waterfall.


The gorge is hard to get at and the stream banks are untended and littered with fallen trees.

fallen trees byreburn

Mrs Tootlepedal sees the ghosts of early settlers crossing streams on such ready made bridges as this.

We scrambled back up the slope and rejoined the track until we came to the Fairy Loup, a larger waterfall further upstream.

Fairy Loup

Only in winter, when the leaves are off the trees can you get a good look at the fall.

Fairy Loup

I had my tripod with me and took the top picture at f4.2 and 1/160th and the bottom one at f8 and 1/20th.  In spite of what is often said, I see more water movement in the top picture than in the bottom.

The eagle eye of Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a fine display of fungus perched on a fallen tree, half way down the steep bank above the water.

My fungus identification skills are not yet developed enough to say what sort of fungus this is.  In fact they are not yet developed at all.

Above the waterfall, the river takes on a quieter tone, though with many little rapids still there to delight the eye.


When we reached the road at the top of the hill, we didn’t cross the stream but turned to other way to go back to the car.

Byreburn bridge

We stopped on the bridge first to chat with the couple you can just see walking off up the road.  Jean was so interesting about life in this part of the world when she was a child that I am going to make a point of recording her reminiscences for the Archive Group’s records.  She and her husband were recalling just how much there life there was in the village when they were young and as we walked back to the car, we passed the old school and the old station….

Gilnockie School and Station
Gilnockie School and Station, now both private  houses.

…and reflected on often you can pass houses called The Old Post Office, The Old Police Station, The Old Rectory, The Old Smithy and so on as you cycle through villages which are only a shadow of their Old Selves.

There was an Old Gate to be seen as well.

Old gate

We had timed our walk well.  As we got back to the car, the heavens opened and the rain poured down.  We were pleased to get home in dry clothes to enjoy a cup of tea and a biscuit.

It was so dark by half past two that further exploration or camera work was impossible so I made a little pizza dough and settled down to catch up on my correspondence.  We were visited by Mike Tinker later in the afternoon.  By coincidence, he and his wife had walked past the Fairy Loup a couple of days ago and he had a fine picture of it on his phone with a good deal more water going over it than we had seen today.  If he sends a copy to me, it will appear as guest picture of the day.  Hint.

In the evening, I went up to the Archive Centre and did a little work by myself.  Sandy, who had been away on an outing all day, poked his head round the door later on and we went off for a drink at the Eskdale Hotel.

The forecast is back to heavy rain and gales again tomorrow so I think my 100% record of cycling everyday of the year will come to a shuddering halt.

I found a flying chaffinch in a  bright spell today.

flying chaffinch







Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

38 thoughts on “A leap of faith

  1. There’s a cold wave hitting the Notrtheast of USA and part of the southeast too (That’s were I am) Tomorrow morning will be 21 degrees F (approx.5 degrees C) That’s cold for this area! 🙂

  2. I like the shots of the sky. Winter light is always so different.
    I agree with your assesment of the shutterspeeds used on the waterfalls. There seems to be plenty of motion without the blur.
    I’ve never seen a pixie cup lichen as happy as that one!

      1. After a warm Christmas holiday, I’m rethinking the the whole thing. I don’t think I’m as tough as I thought, after all. 🙂

  3. I enjoyed the stories of all the Old things in your neck of the woods! Wish I could assist with the fungus ID but it rains here so rarely, I doubt the books make any reference to them! 😉 ~SueBee

  4. Love the light in these pictures. Makes an interesting change from white!
    I loved walks to the Fairy Loup with my grandfather.

  5. Your winter is a very mossy green. I remember green…

    In addition to the superior character of the bridges in your part of the world, even your streams and waterfalls have great names. There’s nothing like a Fairy Loup around here.

    The unidentified fungus looks sinister.

  6. A fine and varied collection of photos. I think that the dark skies add drama to the photos, the lichens look almost like jewels in a way, and who doesn’t love a flying chaffinch?

  7. Loved the pictures of your walk to the Fairy Loup, splendid waterfalls. I enjoyed the perching bird, thank you and am glad you had a good cycle ride and no nasty fall on the rubbish on the road.

  8. There is the thermometer reading; then there is the wind chill. I am with my camera trapped inside because I dare not try to go tromping int he snow when it is so bitterly cold.

  9. Lovely to see running water, live fungus, green anything – all real-time observations we in the frozen states have to do without for a while. Thanks for the lively report.

      1. I wish! I fell skating five or six years ago (after an absence of 40+ years or so) and injured my already not great right knee. I’d like to try cross-country skiing but I think I better stick to walking and swimming with my knees. Right now my winter sports are limited to shoveling.

  10. I’m glad you didn’t get wet on your walk. It feels like we are set for a winter of wind and rain. Personally I’d quite like a little snow as a change.

  11. The orange fungi looks like Auricularia auricula-judae or wood ear. It is edible and is found throughout the year. Usually fungi is seen mainly in the Autumn.

  12. A touching thought about the Old thises and thats turned into houses. Or in our town, sitting empty.

    I am really impressed that you plan to study the names of fungi!

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