Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my flute pupil Luke’s mother. It shows an elderly cyclist visiting The Hub in Eskdalemuir. This has been converted to a meeting place and cafe from an old school where long ago he used to to teach on and off for a year.
Luke’s mother is a member of our Langholm choir and when she told me that she works in Eskdalemuir at The Hub, I resolved to pay her a visit on the first decent cycling day. That turned out to be today with a pleasant sun shining, a light wind blowing and the temperature just nudging 10°C.
I gave the temperature time to rise before setting off for the 12 mile trip to Eskdalemuir on the fairly speedy bike. The last time that I was up this road, I nearly fell off when I hit a big pothole while riding behind Dropscone so I was very happy to find that it had been very nicely repaired when I passed it today.
There is quite a long and steady climb on the way but I was happy to find that my legs had recovered well from Monday’s hilly ride and it presented no problem. I arrived at The Hub to find Luke’s mum hard at work….
I was perfectly in time for a coffee which was both reasonably priced and of good quality. I resolved to visit The Hub again and in fact, I did just that after I had ridden on until I reached the top of Eskdale, crossed the county boundary and cycled back down to the village again.
Although the road runs through quiet upland farms….
…it is not without interest. Near the top of the valley, I passed a seismological station….
…which was built in 1962, fundamentally to detect nuclear testing explosions. It has an array of sensors spread over the moor behind the station which collect the data. A bit further back down the valley there is a meteorological observatory which also collects seismological data.
Near the top of the hill, a forester with strong conservation instincts has built a little artificial lochan which I visited today.
The two white dots in the picture are nesting swans as far as I can see but they were too far away for Pocketcam. There is a lot of tree felling going on in the extensive forests in the area and I had to look sharp once or twice to avoid timber lorries which wait for no man (or woman) as they career down the narrow roads.
On my way back down to Eskdalemuir village, I stopped off at another remarkable place. Stuck in the middle of this remote Scottish valley is a full scale Tibetan Monastery and Temple, Samye Ling.
It is quite a place.
The site is under continuous development and in places has the air of one of those scrapyards where you go to find interesting pieces of architecture but the pieces here are very splendid.
Leaving Samye Ling, I got back to The Hub…
It is very comfortable, with sofas as well as chairs and tables….
By coincidence another cyclist arrived. He was doing a circular tour from Moffat and we had an interesting chat before we went our separate ways.
I went home down the other side of the river to the one I came up and as the sun had gone behind clouds and the wind was against me, I nearly took the quickest way home from Bailliehill. My legs were feeling pretty cheery though so I took a diversion to Paddockhole and came back along the familiar Wauchope road over Callister. I was a bit annoyed to find that I had misjudged the wind direction and as a result, it blew into my face for the last ten miles.
At 50 miles, the ride was the same length as the sportive on Monday had been and like the sportive, it had seven classified climbs along the way but it had nothing as steep as one of the climbs on Monday and they must have been less taxing as I managed a slightly better average speed for the trip. I had a longer break in the middle today too which might have helped.
When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden planting out vegetables. She is a bit behind on her garden schedule because of the tidying up after the building works but she is making up for lost time now. I had a little time to stare out of the window.
I got the scarifier and a mower out and began work on the front lawn. I had done the whole of the middle lawn yesterday and removed a lot of moss but the moss in the front lawn is even worse. We are going to try to make part of the front lawn into a meadow so I worked on the bits that are going to be grassy paths through the meadow today. It is hard work and I was secretly rather pleased when it started to rain and I had to stop.
In the evening, we were visited by Mike and Alison who have got safely back from New Zealand where they had been entertained by two granddaughters and an earthquake large enough to make the lawn upon which Alison was sitting rise and fall so much that she felt as though she was in a boat at sea.
It hadn’t affected her musical skills though and we enjoyed getting back to playing our Friday evening sonatas.
I didn’t have much time to catch a flying bird or indeed much strength to hold the camera up for long and the light went soon after I got home from cycling so this is the best flying bird that I could manage. Sorry.
Note: As I pedalled along in upper Eskdale today, I was joined by Stewart Pool for a while. He was just stretching his legs as he is entered with several other Langholm cyclists in the Fred Whitton Challenge on Sunday. The Fred Whitton Challenge consists of a 112 mile sportive around the Lake District, starting at Grasmere and taking in climbs of Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott & Wrynose passes and makes my cycle ride today look like a walk in the park. Hats off to him and his friends.