Pin(e)s and needles


Today’s guest picture gives a hint as to why Dropscone is on holiday in Malta.  It is not the fine architecture (though he likes that) but the blue sky in the background.


We did get a glimpse of blue sky in the morning here but it didn’t take long before it had disappeared and the familiar drizzle started again so I did feel a twinge of envy about Dropscone’s holiday.

The weather is more like winter now but it was still above freezing.  I should have been thinking about cycling but the drizzle and some rather achy joints made an extra lie in a more attractive option.  I took it and had a quiet snooze while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to have a haircut and do some business.

I should say that as the finally-delivered parcel’s contents were a Christmas present to her and as she already thinks, with quite a lot of justification, that the world knows too much about her business thanks to her reckless spouse, the contents will remain undisclosed to the wider world.  She did like the present though.

When I got up, I had a look through the kitchen window.

goldfinches and chaffinches

The feeder was busy but only with its accustomed customers.

There were one or two siskins around…


…but they don’t seem to have visited Langholm in great numbers this year as I haven’t heard of other feeders being busy with them.  There are lots of goldfinches though and everyone seems to have them in their gardens.

The rain fizzled out after lunch which was lucky because Sandy and I had arranged a walk.

We offered Mrs Tootlepedal a chance to come with us but she has been doing a lot of tidying up and preferred a drive to our council rubbish dump instead.

Sandy drove to the top of Callister and we took a walk on the forestry track that starts there.

As we started we were able to look at the stout bridge and culvert that allows the Pokeskine burn to run under the road that we had just driven along.

Callister culvert

We would meet this burn again.

The track soon entered a patch of fairly mature woodland….

Kirtleton Forest track

This forest is purely commercial planting and was first planted shortly after we came to the area.  There was a chilly northerly breeze about but our route was well chosen and we were well sheltered for most of it.

We had picked a forestry to walk along because the ground is so wet and although the going underfoot was dry, there was plenty of water on all sides…

Kirtleton Forest track

…both still and running.  The lichens are really enjoying the weather.

Kirtleton Forest track

Really enjoying it.

Kirtleton Forest track lichens
This tree stump was a botanical garden in itself.
A close up.

Among the mature trees, there were plenty of seedlings which were growing well.

seedling spruce

We came out of the trees and onto a stretch where the trees had been felled and replanted.  A hide on the forest edge is probably there for wildlife counters to lurk…

Kirtleton forest hide

…as there are plans for windmills nearby.

The tree planters have left gaps in the planting….

Kirtleton forest

…which gave us good views to enjoy.

Among the puddles beside the track is small but intentional pond…

Kirtleton forest pond

…but it wasn’t being visited by any bird life as we passed.

The trees in these plantations have very shallow roots and are liable to be blown over in strong winds, especially when neighbouring trees are cut down.

Kirtleton forest fallen tree
This one had been down for long enough to become very decorative.
Kirtleton forest fallen tree
Others had fallen more recently…
Kirtleton forest fallen tree
…and some very recently indeed.

We ducked under the arch and continued until we came to a bridge.

Kirtleton forest bridge

This was our second meeting with the Pokeskine Burn….

Pokeskine Burn

…and it marked the furthest point of our walk.

Beside the bridge was an interesting growth.  I took a very bad picture of it but I have put it in anyway because I don’t think I have seen anything quite like it before.

green lichen

It looks like a peltigera lichen but I haven’t seen one this colour before.

We turned and walked briskly back to the car, feeling that we had had a very enjoyable three mile outing for a chilly and grey afternoon in January.

After a cup of tea and a biscuit with Mrs Tootlepedal, who had got back from her trip to the dump, Sandy went home and that ended the excitement for the day.

The slow cooked beef stew made a third and final appearance for our evening meal and the day slipped away in peace and quiet.

Tomorrow promises the first fairly cold day of winter and a possible glimpse of sunshine to go with the frost but I have got a big pile of oranges ready to make marmalade so we won’t be lacking things to do if the weather is unkind.

The flying bird of the day comes with a full supporting cast.

flying goldfinch

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

29 thoughts on “Pin(e)s and needles

  1. I hope the marmalade turns out nicely. I was interested in the roots of the fallen trees. I found a fallen pine tree on our recent walk and was so surprised at the shallowness of the roots for such a tall tree. I wondered if it was an aberration but I see from your photos that it seems to be the norm. A very interesting and enjoyable record of your walk.

    1. It always amazes us that the commercial forestry stands up at all. They plant it so closely that it gives mutual shelter but as an orienteer, I was always very conscious of how many tangled areas of ‘windlblow’ there were.

  2. Mmmmmarmalade! My friend Lucie makes the most delicious Seville orange marmalade (when she can get the oranges) – hope yours is as delicious! (And I quite understand Mrs. T’s need for a bit of privacy.)

  3. Glad to see that Dropscone is enjoying some blue skies for his Malta visit.
    Great variety of lichens on your walk. You could do a modern art gallery exhibition with all your pictures.

  4. That was a wonderful collection of lichens that you found! It’s probably the same the world over these days, when they plant trees for commercial harvesting, they plant them too close. The do grow very tall, very straight, and very fast, but when exposed to any wind, they are easily blown over.

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