At leisure

Today’s guest picture shows a view of Amsterdam.  It was sent by my sister Mary who has just come back from a visit there with my brother Andrew and my sister Susan.  They get about.

Amsterdam April 2014 022

I made an effort to get about a bit myself today as for once it was a completely dry day and, for a while at least, the wind had dropped.

The downside was that the temperature was decidedly chilly in the early morning and I didn’t get going until nearly ten o’clock.  The sun was shining as I set out with a couple of bananas and an egg roll in my back pocket and no particular route in mind.  My plan was to see how I felt and cycle accordingly.

I started out along the Wauchope road and, as I was heading into what wind there was, I went at a steady rate, dropping into a comfortably low gear any time a hill approached.  This method took me the ten miles to Paddockhole without any stress and here I had a choice of routes.  I settled for heading north into the rolling hills and climbed up to Corrie Common where the moorland is wide open with skies to match.

Corrie Common

A bit of down and up took me to the edge of the Dryfe valley….

Above Boreland

…and here I could either head east into more hills and back to the Esk valley for a 40 mile strenuous round trip home or west into the broader, gentler country of Annandale with the opportunity to extend my tour as I felt able.  The sun had gone in but I was feeling well and the bike was rolling smoothly so I went west and followed the Dryfe Water.  I  didn’t go into Lockerbie but headed straight on towards the motorway.  I was passed by several log lorries who were heading towards the wood fuelled power station at Stevens Croft.

Stevens Croft

This is UK’s largest wood fired biomass station. With an output of 44MW it supplies the electrical needs of 70,000 Scottish homes, displacing around 140,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases.  There was certainly a huge mound of sawdust and vast acres of logs on every side round the building.   In the distance I could see another approach to energy production.


This was the third windfarm I had seen since starting my journey.   The wind may be a pain for cyclists but at least it is good for something.

For the rest of my journey, I could almost always see the sun shining but it was almost always somewhere else and not where I was which was a bit of a disappointment and meant that I took less photots than I had intended.

I cycled over the motorway on a bridge and headed towards the river Annan, crossing it by the bridge at Millhousebridge where this curious building dominates the approach to the river.


This clock lodge was the old schoolhouse.  The clock seems to eternally pointing to ten to three like the Old Vicarage in the famous poem.

I crossed the river and pedalled downstream to Lochmaben.  Here I bought a bottle of water as I had forgotten to put my own water bottle on the bike and a cup of hot chocolate.  I would have enjoyed the chocolate more if I hadn’t put it on the ground while I took a photo and inadvertently kicked it over.  This is the photo that I took.

Mill Loch
The Mill Loch, one of three in the town.

I cycled thought the town and out past the Castle Loch, the biggest of the lochs.

swans on Castle Loch
They have a sailing club here.

There was a brief moment of sunshine but it had almost gone by the time that I had turned round to look down the length of the loch.

Castle Loch

I was tempted to visit the castle that gives the loch its name but the road was covered by farm muck as they had been spraying the nearby fields so I passed up the opportunity and headed first down to Dalston and then to Hoddom, where I stopped in a handy picnic place for my lunch of a banana and an egg roll.

Refreshed, I crossed the Annan once again….

Hoddom bridge

and pedalled home via Ecclefechan, Eaglesfield, Gair….

wild flowers in the verge at Gair
Wild flowers in the verge at Gair

…and over Callister for the second time on the trip.  For this section I at last had the wind behind me.  This was well planned as it gradually increased in strength until it was able to give me a substantial helping hand down the final hill and back home.

I ended up covering 56 miles in just over four hours of cycling time and because of the leisurely pace and the care I took to be in an easy gear whenever some uphill threatened, I ended up in very good order.  Those with time to kill can view the route here.

I noticed when I put the route into the Garmin Connect website, that Dropscone had also taken advantage of the light winds to whizz round the customary morning run at great speed.  I was glad that I hadn’t been trying to keep up with him.

After a cup of tea and  shower, I had a look round the garden.  The tulips are doing their best.


A silver pear, a lasting gift to us for our silver wedding, has charming pink tips for its flower buds but no pink at all in the actual flowers.

silver pear

We are hoping that the plum tree, as well as offering a perch to our birds, will provide us with a good crop of plums this year.

Plum tree blossom
The blossom is looking very promising so far

The rhubarb is flourishing…


…and we picked  a few sticks which will be cooked for the first of many rhubarb crumbles to come.

As I went back into the house, I noticed this very large bumblebee crawling up the wall.


As the day was still dry, Mrs Tootlepedal, Sandy and I went up to the Moorland Bird Feeders to see if we could see anything interesting.  Dr Barlow was there filling the feeders when we arrived.  She had been hoping to have a ringing session tomorrow but the winds are going to be too strong so it has been cancelled.  She told us that there were plenty of hen harriers to be seen on the other side of Whita.

We sat down to look at the feeders. I was hoping for some good woodpecker shots but I had to settle for a male and female pheasant.

female pheasant
The female pheasant, restrained elegance
male pheasant
The male pheasant, rather showy

If the female looks a bit gloomy, it may be because every move she made was dogged by at least four and often more of the males, all vigorously pressing their suit.

There was little of interest so we soon packed up, pausing only to note the arrival of a woodpecker at the very moment that we were all back in the car with the cameras put away.

Taking Dr Barlow at her word, we drove round and up onto the Langholm Moor and sure enough, there was a hen harrier floating above the hillside looking for something for her tea.

hen harrier

The weather had worsened, with a chilly and strong wind and thick cloud so after Mrs Tootlepedal and Sandy had had a good look through their binoculars, we went back home, there being no chance of a better photograph to be had.

In the evening, we were visited by Mike and Alison Tinker.  Alison had been working very hard in her garden all afternoon so we  were both a little tired but all the same we managed to finish quite a few sonatas at the same time and often in the same key.  Most enjoyable.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch


Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

24 thoughts on “At leisure

  1. Wow! One day you’re feeling so-so and next you pedal like a pro. I got to eat more of the scones, that must be your secret! 🙂

  2. I so admire your determination,You certainly put me to shame, To each within there means, well I often think why do we settle for less than we are? that’s me Tom not you, keep up fighting the good fight. I Accept we should Appreciate getting old its a Privilege not afforded many.

  3. Your day exhausts me, and I’m just reading about it! I’m celebrating the first few days of cycling for the year, although it’s still mucky and snow is forecast. I tried to stick with the older and heavier bike but it had to go in for some brake work, which necessitated getting the new and speedier bike a bit muddy. Well worth the cleaning though – it’s glorious to be out on a bike again! My Tootlepedal impressions fall about 40 miles short though . . .

  4. Your countryside and waterways offer beautiful views, what a plus to the enjoyment of your ride. Your distance always WOWs me…..I’d be in trouble half way and someone would have to come get me and my bike.

    Your sister’s photo of Amsterdam is gorgeous!

    1. The trick is just to cycle at a comfortable speed. When I get a little pleased with myself, I keep reminding myself that Mrs Tootlepedal, who doesn’t generally cycle far or fast, cycled 50 miles a day for 19 consecutive days in 2008 and then I get some perspective on what counts as hard work.

  5. I still haven’t decided if the most impressive aspect of your blog are the photos, or how much you are able to pack into a day, especially since you started late.

    I’m not even going to try to pick a favorite photo from today, but I will say that getting the swans in the foreground of the Castle Loch really made that photo something extra special.

  6. What a splendid ride – lovely picture of Mill loch – even if it did cost you your hot chocolate.

  7. Beautiful swan shot by the sailing club and the Rupert Brook school house with its clock stuck at ten to three is lovely. Perhaps the bee was thinking about making some honey for your tea. Shame about the hot chocolate though, it’s the sort of thing I do.

  8. I feel out of breath from just reading about your cycle route and miles! When did you start cycling, Tom? I am finding more and more that it’s such a blessing to have something we are passionate about – it adds so much joy to life. It’s obvious cycling is one of yours, and photography, and music, and…. so many things!

    1. I took up cycling frequently about six years ago on medical grounds to help strengthen the muscles that protect injured ligaments in one of my knees and found that I enjoyed it. I haven’t stopped since.

      I like to be active and over the years have done hill running, golf, orienteering, golf again and now cycling. On each occasion the progression to a new activity was propelled by injury.

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