A grand tour

Today’s guest picture, taken by Bruce’s daughter and forwarded to me by him, shows Guthrie, having woken up, wondering where the next meal is coming from.

GuthrieWe were up promptly in the morning but got away a few minutes behind schedule on a trip to Lockerbie.  This time we were not catching the train to Edinburgh to see Matilda but going to a hotel in the town to meet Venetia.  Venetia is a long standing friend of my sister Mary and having been to a symposium in Newcastle, she was taking the opportunity of having come so far north in England to go a little further and meet us and have a tour of our part of southern Scotland.

I was delighted to meet her as she is a frequent commenter on the blog and has sent me several guest pictures of the day.

She was waiting patiently for us when we arrived and she was soon ensconced in our car as we headed off north to Moffat, our first stop.  There we had coffee, did a little shopping, admired the Moffat Ram…

Moffat Ram…and set off out  of the town to visit the Devil’s Beef Tub.  The Devil’s Beef Tub is a dramatic hollow among the hills north of the town where the Johnstones (“The Devils” to their enemies) would hide their cattle in Border Reiving days.  It was described by Sir Walter Scott in these terms:  “It looks as if four hills were laying their heads together, to shut out daylight from the dark hollow space between them. A damned deep, black, blackguard-looking abyss of a hole it is.”

It didn’t look quite so dramatic to us today in spite of some gloomy weather but it is an impressive hollow.

Devil's Beef TubWe rolled back down the hill into the town and then drove out on the Selkirk road.  This gave Venetia her first taste of the delights of log lorries on narrow roads as we followed three of them, having to stop every time we met a car coming the other way.  We finally got to our next port of call, the Grey Mare’s Tail.

This is the name given to a fine waterfall which drops over side of the valley from Loch Skene above.

Grey Mare's tailThere are footpaths both to the top or the bottom of the falls and Venetia and Mrs Tootlepedal took the path to the bottom.  I took a picture of them on their return which which shows the scale of the waterfall.

Grey Mare's tailMy knee felt better today but while they braved the narrow and steep path, I cautiously (sensibly) stayed near the car park finding interesting things to look at.

purple flowers
The banks of the stream were carpeted with these flowers, a bit more purple in real life than in the picture.
lichens
The moist weather meant that the lichens were very striking

I looked back down the valley up which we had driven and I could see the typical U shape which shows that it has been scoured out by ice in times past.

Grey Mare's tail valleyBecause it falls into such a narrow gorge, it is hard to get a good picture of the whole waterfall without going along paths which are too steep and narrow for me now.

We left the falls and continued along the Selkirk road to what should have been the most beautiful destination of our trip, The Loch of the Lowes and St Mary’s Loch.  On a sunny day this is an idyllic place to be.  It was far from sunny by the time that we got there…

Loch of the Lowes…and although it was still a pleasant spot…

Loch of the Lowes…the many spots of rain didn’t encourage us to linger so we drove on, until by turning south at the end of St Mary’s Loch, we came across the hills to Eskdalemuir where we had lunch at the Hub.  We stayed long enough for Venetia to see our photo exhibition and then continued south until we arrived at Langholm, in sunshine at last, and there we had a tour of the garden,,,,

strawberry and rose
The ornamental pink strawberry and Crown Princess Margareta enjoying a dry spell at last
poppy and campanula
A poppy and a campanula showing that white can make a statement
phlox and rambler rose
A pink phlox and a potential rambler rose

….and a restful sit down.

A crime had been committed in the garden and we were able to catch the culprit red beaked….

blackbird with strawberryIt went off saying, “Who? Me?” but I don’t grudge a strawberry here and there as I have had plenty.

We didn’t sit for long though and we were soon back in the car for a further tour.  This took us up the A7 and across to Hermitage Castle…

Hermitage castle…a favourite spot to visit for us.  On this occasion, we were rather late and the castle was so strongly defended by an uncooperative attendant that we gave up hope of walking round it (although it didn’t officially close for another twenty minutes) and took some pictures of wild flowers beside the path…

Harebell and orchid
Harebells and yet another orchid

…before continuing our drive to Newcastleton.  From there, we came back across the hill to Langholm, stopping to watch a hen harrier quartering the moor on our way.

While we were parked, Venetia’s sharp eye noticed this fine thistle.

thistleApart from the sights we saw when we stopped, the whole drive was through lovely countryside and we hope that Venetia who lives in Glastonbury in Somerset, a famous beauty spot, got a good impression of this part of the world in spite of the generally grey weather.

We went out for a meal at the Douglas in the evening and then Mrs Tootlepedal kindly relieved me from my role as chauffeur and drove Venetia back to Lockerbie.  It has been a great pleasure to meet her.

Amidst all this excitement, catching a flying bird was a bit of a sideline and this was the best that I could do.

flying sparrow

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

31 thoughts on “A grand tour

  1. What beautiful countryside! And colorful lichens!

    The feathered ones here got roughly half the blueberry patch. Our yield is about 72 quarts in a good year. We were able to get about 36 this year. We are in a drought, though, so their normal food supplies are running short out there.

    1. The blackbirds have finished off the strawberry patch after leaving it alone at first. I will be in a race with them once the blackcurrants ripen.

  2. You picked an appropriate title for this post, as it was indeed a grand tour! With so much to see in your area, as witnessed by your blog posts over the years, it must be difficult to choose just a few to show a visitor.

  3. That was a splendid tour helping me to revisit the place you have kindly taken me to over the years. The waterfall looked good with so much water in it and there were no jets screaming overhead this time. Glad your knee is at last responding to rest.

  4. I was going to use the word ‘grand’ but I see that it has already been employed!
    Very fine scenery, and you managed to convey it all very well in your pictures.
    A splendid thistle and some modern art lichen were very impressive.

  5. Beautiful pictures and lovely scenery. I showed your blog recently to my children. We live among woods near New York, and they said they could not imagine looking around and not seeing a tree (unless it was the ocean). They found it fascinating. Is it the sheep that keep the hills so bare, or would trees simply not grow, even without animals eating the saplings?

  6. Thank you for this most interesting tour of The Devil’s Beef Tub. The lichen pictures are indeed striking and the thistle brings back fond memories for me of time spent with my mother as a child. I’m glad your knee had improved a little too.

  7. I’m sure Venetia knows from all the comments on your blog over the years how envious many of us are of her grand tour!

    I loved the Moffat Ram. And wouldn’t you love to be able to see what the Devil’s Beef Tub must have looked like in Sir Walter’s day, for him to have described it so?

    The Crown Princess is gorgeous as always. Such a pleasure to the eye.

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