On the trail again

Today’s double guest picture comes from Langholm exile, Tom, in South Africa and shows his niece Laura, who is visiting from Langholm, watching the Cape Epic mountain bike race  together with a slice of action from the event itself.

Cape EpicThe day started with glorious sunshine and it would have been a perfect morning for a cycle ride if I hadn’t had to pay a visit to the doctor after breakfast.  The visit itself would have left me with plenty of time for a pedal but it involved an injection into my sore shoulder.  This requires a whole 24 hours of rest and in spite of telling the doctor that cycling is as good as a rest any day, it was banned.

Holding up heavy cameras was not recommended either so I put up a tripod at the kitchen window and sat down with a cup of coffee in one hand and the remote camera control in the other.  The light was good, the set up superb and all that was needed was some birds.  There was one.

chaffinchIt was very frustrating.

Sandy came round for coffee after filling the Moorland bird feeders (and sitting in the new hide) and we arranged to go for an outing in the afternoon.

Desperate for bird action, I shredded a suet ball on the lawn.  This attracted a jackdaw.

jackdawAnd that was the sum total of the garden bird watching today.

The flowers were more co-operative. There was a new one out today…

A scilla

…and the first bee too.

the first bee of the yearI couldn’t resist yet another crocus shot.  They looked so sharp in the sun.

crocusLuckily the afternoon excursion was more interesting than the morning bird watching.  I had enjoyed cycling past the Eskdale Prehistoric Trail sites yesterday so I suggested to Sandy that we could drive round them today and stop at the only one that I have never visited.  He agreed and acted as chauffeur as Mrs Tootlepedal had taken the car to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.

As on my tour yesterday, our first stop was to look at the meeting of the Black and White Esks.  It is a beautiful spot on a sunny afternoon.

White Esk at King PoolWe drove on until we arrived at the final trail site on the west side of the valley, Bessie’s Hill Fort and Enclosure.

A helpful sign stimulates the imagination….

Bessie's Hill..but the reality is slightly less dramatic.

Bessie's Hill
On the trail of a lonesome pine.

We followed a well marked and well maintained path up through the woods…

Bessie's Hill…until we arrived at the top of the ridge.

Bessie's Hill
The fort is in what might well be called a commanding position.

In spite of the hazy day, the view north was very satisfying.  We walked up to the settlement first and were able to look back down on the impressively defended fort with its triple earthworks and double ditch.

Bessie's Hill FortThe settlement or enclosure was obviously built in more peaceful times…

Bessie's Hill Enclosure…and is unusually square for prehistoric sites in this area.

We walked round and battled through tussocks and past vivid moss…

Bessie's Hill moss…and across the ditch that surrounds the earthwork…

Bessie's Hill ditch…to get a view across the site and the valley below.

Bessie's Hill enclosureWith the delightful precision customary in looking at early sites, the author of the leaflet for the trail notes that, “Field archaeologists have suggested the possibility of from two to seven round timber-built houses.”  We took their word for it.

Having walked right round the enclosure, we descended towards the fort.

On the way, a glimpse of colour caught my eye and a tree stump revealed a hidden garden.

lichenI have never seen a sight like this before and it was the icing on the cake of a very interesting day out.

The fort was impressive from the outside…

Bessie's Hill fort…but didn’t offer any great photo opportunities when we were on the mound itself.

We walked back down the hill, remarking on the many coniferous trees that were fully living up to their name.

spruce conesWhen we got back to the car, Sandy drove us on up the valley.  We stopped at Watcarrick churchyard and first looked back up to the ridge which we had just left…

Bessie's Hill fort…and then walked round the ancient burial ground.  I liked the ornate carving on the back of this eighteenth century stone.

Watcarrick stoneA very early example of a smiley if I mistake me not.

We drove on until we got to the bridge over the Esk at Eskdalemuir and, as I had done yesterday, came back along the other side of the river.  We stopped for a brief walk to another of the Trail’s sites, the Louping Stanes Stone circle.

This is not the most impressive monument in the world but it has its charm.

Louping stanesIt is suggested that the circle got its modern name from the tendency of young men to show their prowess by leaping from one to another of the two impressive stones that make up the entrance to the circle.

Louping stanesSandy and I thought about having a go but worried in case it would look as if we were showing off and walked back to the car instead.

On our return we had a cup of tea and agreed that the visit to Bessie’s Hill and the whole drive had been well worth the effort.

Mrs Tootlepedal arrived back safely, having had an entertaining time entertaining Matilda.

In the evening Sandy and I went up to the Archive Centre and this time, we agreed that our trip was not worth the effort at all as the internet connection worked brilliantly for a heady three minutes and then went into a terminal sulk and wouldn’t work again.  We went home in disgust.

The flying bird of the day is a fleeting glimpse of the jackdaw leaving after eating all the shredded suet.


Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

30 thoughts on “On the trail again

  1. At first I thought your lichen might be lipstick powder horn (Cladonia macilenta) but they look more like British soldiers, because lipstick powder horns don’t branch like British soldiers do.

    I wonder if the moss is one of the peat mosses? Some of them can be very vivid red. It might be (Sphagnum capillifolium).

    I think that photo of the trail through the woods is the best landscape photo that I’ve seen in a long time.

    1. I am sure the lichens are British Soldier but I have never seen them growing so freely before. The moss is almost certainly sphagnum though there are so many mosses that it is hard to be absolutely certain about it. The track through the woods was wonderful to use as well as to photograph.

  2. Thanks for showing us more from the Eskdale Prehistoric Trail sites, I’m always interested in such things, and your photos were wonderful!

    I would think that as troublesome as the Internet connection is at the Archive Center, that the people in charge of such things would demand that the service paid for be provided or that they would look to another provider.

    I assume that the doctor gave his or her OK for you to carry your heavy camera again, I’d hate to go without your photos for any length of time.

  3. Talk about interesting places to visit, this was a fabulous one! I thoroughly enjoyed your day, and while I wish to be there exploring in person, you did a very fine job making me feel as though I was there. Thank you!! On another note, do you know what’s making your shoulder sore? Mine has been, too, and I’m blaming it on all the computer time I spend at my job, with the keyboard not at the proper height.

    1. It is partly a legacy of breaking my elbow in a cycle accident some years ago, partly old age and partly holding up a heavy camera instead of sensibly using a tripod.

  4. Excellent blog – sorry that you had to have a jab, but as the result was some excellent pictures and an interesting outing, your pain is our gain. I love the pollen on the bee and the red moss.

  5. An excellent prehistoric tour and some very sharp bird and flower pictures before you left home. Hope the injection has a good effect on your shoulder.

  6. Excellent photos! I too like the inviting path up through the woods and enjoyed your reason for not leaping from stone to stone. No-one likes a show-off!

  7. I can imagine your frustration at having your activities curtailed by the shoulder injection. I had to smile at your comment to the doctor about cycling being as good as a rest any day. You are your sister Susan seem to be such active people. It’s encouraging to me.
    The pictures of the purple flowers and the pollen covered bee are very beautiful and sharp. The secret lichen garden is quite amazing to me. I just don’t see that kind of thing here.
    Thanks again for another interesting visual tour.

  8. Hill forts eh? Mounds look like mounds to me, it’s good we have the imagination to interpret what could have been there. Cheers.

      1. Yes, it appears these ancients knew a thing or to about “Location, location”!

  9. Your hill fort walk was interesting but you need a good imagination to see it as it was. I felt the same about St Catherine’s Hill, which was also a hill fort.

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