Blow, blow thou winter wind

Manifold at Ilam

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  After a break to recover from illness, he is back walking in the Peak District and this picture shows the Manifold river at Ilam.

Manifold at Ilam

The forecast offered a grey, windy and dry day and was correct in every respect.  The dryness was the chief attraction for  me and I set off after breakfast to put a few miles in on the fairly speedy bike.

Although the temperature was a mellow 6°C, the wind was from the north and was of the nipping and eager variety so there was not a lot of comfort about. I left my route choice and distance to be decided by my legs as I went along and they must have felt quite good about life at the start because they found a few miles of roads that I had never cycled along before to add interest to my trip.

This involved going up a stiff climb but there were excellent views as a compensation.  The greyness of the day meant that I can’t share them with you though.  I was cycling towards a hilltop that has been used for thousands of years as a fortified point…

A very rare beam of sunshine!

…but as I got near to it, the tarmac ran out and a dirt track and gloomy woods appeared…


…and I thought better of going on and turned back to sweep down the hill through Ecclefechan and onward to the banks of the river Annan near Hoddom.

River Annan

On my way I passed under the ugliest bridge in the district…

Ecclefechan railway bridge

…and it was hard to believe that the main line railway between London and Glasgow runs over it.

I wandered about in all directions and my legs finally settled for a straightish run home from Eaglesfield, realising that that the last 15 miles or so would be mostly into the wind.  They were right not to have gone further afield as the final few miles back home were very hard work.  Even going downhill required vigorous pedalling.  I was pleased to have done 45 miles and 2500ft of climbing but I definitely felt that I had been out cycling.

Those interested may find more details of the ride  by clicking on the map below.  (The temperature that Garmin gives was lower than the reality and the wind was far stronger than it claims.)

garmin 9 March 2016

After I had looked out of the kitchen window…

brambling and chaffinch
A brambling and chaffinch for comparison

…had a shower and done the crossword (I was waiting for Scottish Power to ring but they didn’t), the sun came out so I picked up a camera or two and went for my favourite short walk.

The grey clouds were well in retreat over the top of Whita and it was a lovely day.

George Street

Mr Grumpy was standing on a stony bank in the river with the sun dappled waters behind him.


On a sunny evening, this walk is hard to beat.  There are views….

Meeting of the waters

…ruined castles…

Langholm Castle

…handsome trees….

Castleholm pine

….more views…


…and of course ducks….

Light is a funny thing. This duck’s head is green usually.
duck landing
I often wonder whether ducks go “Wheeee!” when they splash down like this.

…mossy walls….

mossy wall

…and today’s special, an oyster catcher flying up the Esk.

oyster catcher

(The riverside dwellers were complaining at the camera club meeting on Monday about the raucous cries of these birds in the middle of the night.)

I had the added bonus of a cup of coffee and a tasty chocolate biscuit when I called in at the Tinker’s on my way home.

After a tea of nourishing fish cakes, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to sing with our local choir, Langholm Sings.  The tenors had an exciting time, sometimes hitting the note and sometimes choosing avant garde alternatives not in the score.

In  my defence, I was a bit tired for some reason.

The flying bird of the day is two high flying mallards. Not a great picture but a definite novelty in the FBotD stakes.

two flying ducks

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

42 thoughts on “Blow, blow thou winter wind

      1. Ah, yes. I adore choral music. Right now listening to The Cambridge Singers sing The LORD is My Shepherd. (It’s hard to escape the great choral influence since I lived in Utah for 19 years what with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir being in my neighborhood.) Plus, I’m an alto. Good stuff for altos in most good choral works. 🙂

  1. That was a bracing ride and walk. I can guess how you acquired the fine flying ducks – I picture you lying flat on your back having a little rest when they soared overhead! One day I hope we get a chance to go back to that interesting gloomy wood.

  2. I’m no expert, but not only do the mallards Wheee! as they land at times, I think that the way that they splash as they land is used as a form of communication with any other mallards around. Some seem to purposely splash other ducks at times, other times, they go out of their way not to splash others.

    As Allen said, it would be wonderful to be able to step outside and see the views that you are privileged to, especially now that things are beginning to look a little more green.

    1. The mallards sound just like our childhood behaviour when we went to the swimming pool. It is just the sunlight and the moss that made things look green. There isn’t a leaf to be seen.

  3. Quite the countryside your rode through. That was a very dark wood you came upon, and I probably would have turned around myself.

    The lighting was beautiful. Mr. Grumpy looks absolutely radiant!

  4. I have been catching up with your antics this morning and thankfully the photos are appearing but this post is still loading as I write and won’t let me ‘like’ it so I am just letting you know that I do like it.

  5. I agree. The views were lovely. I agree about the bridge though – it is rather ugly. It’s only redeeming feature is that it seems to work. Usually I m envious of your lovely stone bridges but it seems you do have at least one that is as ugly as some of ours. 🙂 Loved the mallard shots and yes, they do seem to look like they are having fun when they make a splash down. I do like your flying bird shot. I have yet to master a good one of these. I am also envious of the lovely detail in the mossy wall picture. Thanks for entertaining us each day.

  6. Love the iridescent lighting with the Mallard. Great landscape shots and cycle jaunt; whew, I’m getting winded just thinking about it. Great to get a break in your weather for an impressive trip!

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