Head in the clouds

Today’s guest picture comes from Fiona, my Newcastle correspondent who is spending Easter in The Netherlands, her husband’s country.  Her children were having fun on a Kabouter (gnome) hunt.

Kabouter (gnome) huntOur welcome spell of dry and relatively calm weather continued in spite of this being a holiday weekend and after Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in church, I got my fairly speedy bike out.  I hung about looking out of the kitchen window from time to time while a robin and a sparrowhawk posed for me (but not when I had my camera to hand).

I had to make do with a pair of redpolls in the plum tree…

redpolls….a chaffinch landing on the feeder….

chaffinch…and a hard stare from a jackdaw.

jackdawI got going in the end.  It was a misty morning as I set off up the A7 to visit the Mosspaul Hotel and I was a bit worried about the visibility at the top of the hill.  As I got near to the final climb, the mist began to lift.

The road ahead still looked a bit murky
But the view to the side of the road looked more promising
Much more promising

I was dressed for a misty morning and when the sun came out, I was too warm for the first time this year.  The ten miles gently uphill from Langholm to Mosspaul were an absolute pleasure thanks to the gentle wind behind me and the cloudless blue sky when I got there.


Well almost cloudless.

Looking back down the road…

Mosspaul…the morning mist could still be seen but the sun stayed out until I was nearly home.  In a rather mean way, the gentle wind that had helped me up the hill had picked up quite a bit for the return journey and I had to work quite hard to pedal down the hill at times.

Although I was cycling along a main road, there were no lorries about, it being a Sunday, and the other traffic was very light so I had a very pleasant ride.

I had time for a shower and a light lunch before we put our bikes into our new Kangoo and set of for a drive and ride.  Although our newer version of the Kangoo is definitely bigger than our old one, the designers have made it much less bike friendly by lowering the internal roof roof with some unnecessary storage space and some noise insulation.  After a good deal of huffing and puffing, we worked out the best way to get the bikes in and set off.

Our route took us over the hill at Mosspaul again and through Hawick to the picturesque village of Denholm.

denholmNot only was the sun definitely out at Denholm but the temperature was 5 degrees warmer than in Langholm, showing once again what a difference crossing the watershed from west to east can make to the weather.  (Our neighbour Liz told us later in the day that to the west of Langholm, the morning mist had never lifted.)

We had definitely made a good choice of venue for our pedal.  Our route took us for seven miles along a back road beside the Teviot Water, with a cup of tea at a garden centre our ultimate objective.

At 18° C, it was more like summer than spring and if we had stopped to take every photo opportunity, we would never have reached our destination.  As it was, a short diversion to Mary’s Dairy for a home made ice cream at the Harestanes Visitor Centre only just left us enough time to get a cup of tea before the garden centre closed.

The back road that we followed was perfect for leisure cycling, undulating just enough to be interesting without being painful, passing through varied countryside in its short length and being almost free of traffic.  Here are some of the pictures that I took along the way.

Teviot Bridge
The bridge over the Teviot Water at Denholm at one end of our ride..
Ale water Bridge
…and the bridge over the Ale Water at Ancrum near the other end.

In between we passed Fatlips Castle, perched high on a crag…

Fatlips castle….looked across the Teviot valley….

Teviotdale…revelled in the strong scent of coconut from the gorse between the road and the river…

gorse…admired the open road….

tree near Denholm…and enjoyed a little shade too.

Near HarestanesNear Denholm, we were very much struck by the sight of patches of hedge that looked as though they had been splattered with yellow paint.  Closer examination revealed that they were covered in lichen.

lichen on hedgeAltogether, it was fourteen miles of sheer delight from start to finish.  It is amazing what light winds and good sunshine can do to add to the sum of human happiness.

Although it is only thirty miles away from us, the countryside around Denholm is entirely different to the country round Langholm and this was as good as a foreign holiday for us.

The drive home was in wall to wall sunshine and although we watched the car thermometer lose six degrees as we went over the hill at Mosspaul, it was still a beautiful evening when we got home.  Some of our blog readers were kind enough to wish us a happy Easter.  Their wishes were amply fulfilled.

The rest of the evening was spent in a somnolent manner and an early bed beckons.

At one fortunate moment during the day, I happened to have the camera to hand as a chaffinch flew past.

flying chaffinch

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

36 thoughts on “Head in the clouds

  1. Well, I wish that London had been as warm as the weather you had on your bike ride, it sounds idyllic. I loved the Jackdaw’s hard stare and the bridges particularly though the views of the countryside in the lovely weather were hard to beat.

  2. You saw some beautiful scenery and couldn’t have had better weather for Easter.
    I’ve never heard of Fatlips Castle so I had to look it up. It has an interesting history and a strange name.
    I never knew gorse smelled like coconut. Once again I wonder if it will grow here. I’m going to have to look into that.

    1. We wouldn’t have many options if we stayed off A and B roads. For a trunk road, the A7 is very quiet but it does carry some big lorries through the week and I avoid it for the most part. People living in the south can have no conception of what motoring and cycling bliss Dumfries and Galloway offers.

  3. What a wonderful retirement your both having 😊. Being busy when you want to be and hopping on the bikes for day trips sounds idyllic. I’m glad you had a wonderful Easter. We had a lovely one too.

  4. What is that blue stuff? A completely blue sky? That’s not something you’ve seen much of for a long while. I’m very happy you got to see that at Easter. Gorgeous landscape pictures. Looks delightful.

  5. I cannot think of a single stone bridge that I’ve seen anywhere near here, sadly enough – it’s very nice to see your photos of all the lovely ones you pass every day. Also interesting to read that gorse smells like coconut. When I looked it up, I also found that it’s considered an invasive species in some parts of North America. Such an education on Tootlepedal’s Blog!

  6. Difficult to find a segue to your blog, so I shan’t try, but I was reet chuffed over the weekend. On Saturday a chiffchaff chose to pass through my garden, and then on Sunday, long after I’d given up on them for this year, a single solitary siskin stopped off at my feeders! Must be on its way north to you I reckon.

  7. Do you know what the yellow flowering shrub is in the photo below the plowed field? It looks very much like an invasive species here known as Scotch Broom, Cytisus scoparius.

    1. It is gorse (Ulex europaeus) which is different from broom (Cytisus scoparius), though I see that both are regarded as invasive plants in various parts of the world.

  8. It looks like you had a tremendous Easter day! The blue of that sky is stunning — definitely has a spring/summer hue to it! Loved the bridges and that castle. We are still quite cold here and the forecast is for rain the next four or five days. 😦 Oh well…April showers and all that.

  9. You were very fortunate with your weather on Easter Sunday. I am pleased you had an enjoyable couple of cycle rides. Our weather was much colder and cloudier. Two bridges and castle as well as superb views to admire – a wonderful post! My husband is working in Scotland this week, staying in Largs and admiring the view ‘over the sea to Skye’.

  10. That looks like a wonderful day once the mist lifted. You had some nice bridges to look at on your secret nd ride of the day and Fatlips Castle would have had me making a detour. What and odd name!

  11. That area is lovely. We went cycling in it a few years ago and went to Denholm – I remember it as a woman at work had the same surname.

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