All hail (and a little snow too)

Skelwith Force

Today’s guest picture harks back to my siblings’ visit at the start of this month and shows Skelwith Force in the Lake District.  It was taken by my sister Mary.

Skelwith Force
Skelwith Force

We had another day of mixed sunshine and showers here with some impressive cloudscapes.  Plans were once again slightly frustrated but the day worked out well enough in the end.

I was due to fill the Moorland bird feeders for some friends who are on holiday and since the light was good when I went up, I was looking forward to spending some productive time in the bird hide there.

However, when I had almost finished filling the feeders, a minibus full of school children drew up and the project leader told me that it was  a school visit.  Plan A went into the bin.

It was still quite bright when I got home so I decided to convert Plan A into Plan B and go and visit the nuthatches but by the time that I had made a pot of coffee for Mrs Tootlepedal and myself, it had clouded over and started to snow.  Plan B hit the bin too.

Plan C involved crosswords, catching up with business and making soup.  It worked well.

I did find a moment to admire an a gymnastic siskin….


…and watch a siskin and a redpoll circling warily round each other.

siskin and redpoll

After lunch, the skies had cleared.  Although it was still pretty chilly for April (6.5°C), the wind was much calmer than yesterday so I put on many layers and took my slow bike out to give the solid tyre another test.

Needless to say, it started snowing lightly as soon as I left our front gate but rather than junking Plan D, I kept going and was rewarded by a small pool of sunshine which very politely kept pace with me as I pedalled along.  All around there were showers and looming clouds…

clouds at the Kerr

…but for nine of the fourteen miles of my ride, I managed to keep away from them.

I didn’t stop much because it seemed a pity to risk being caught up by the rain but I did like the sight of this young Belted Galloway who was as curious about me as I was about it.

belted galloway

The weather to one side of the road smiled upon a pleasant prospect…

View at Ryehills

…but on the other side, more black clouds loomed.

Clouds at Ryehills

My luck couldn’t hold out for ever and as I ground up to the highest point of my ride, I was overtaken by a hailstorm.

Fortunately, the hail was the softest and most gentle that I have ever met so I was spared getting painfully pinged and because it was hail rather than snow, I didn’t even get very wet. To make matters better, I soon cycled through it and came out on the other side.

Since the sun was out again, I stopped at my favourite little cascade on the Wauchope to show that although the weather has been very cold lately, we haven’t anything serious in the way of continuous rain for several weeks and the rivers are very low.

Wauchope cascade

This was a different view taken last December after two solid months of downpours.

wauchope cascade

The low water let me get a close shot of the deformed rocks beside the river…

wauchope rocks

…and a look down stream to a more peaceful stretch.

Wauchope below Bessie Bells

The birds had been very busy at the garden feeders and I had to fill them when I got home.

As well as a bird on every perch and more waiting on the pole and in the plum tree, there was a huge squad of scavengers on the ground too.

scavenging birds
I can count thirty birds here.  There were often more than fifty in the garden at once

The garden was very pleasant, sheltered from the wind and bathed in occasional sunshine.

Flowers competed for attention.

A pulsatilla
Drumstick primulas
Drumstick primulas

Mrs Tootlepedal had painted our back stairs in the morning and was busy in the garden in the afternoon so she was quite ready for a cup of tea after I had had a shower.

Dr Tinker, whose tea detecting system was working perfectly, arrived just in time to join us.  He is going to look after Mrs Tootlepedal’s greenhouse plants next week while we are taking a short break from Langholm life.

As we sipped, we looked out of the window and saw some quite heavy snow so I was pleased with the timing of my ride.  The ground is warm enough and the snow showers short enough that we haven’t had problems with snow settling.

The sun was soon out again and when I was upstairs, I took the opportunity to lean out of an upper window and get a different angle on the birds.

goldfinches and siskins

I suppose that I was having a bird’s eye view from up above.

goldfinches and siskins

Mrs Tootlepedal has planted out her onions and is protecting them against the inclement weather with a row of cloches.  I could see them out of my window too.

onion cloches

In the evening, we went to sing with our Langholm choir and  had a good time getting some polish on pieces which we are going to sing in two concerts next month.

With four choral engagements, two with the Langholm choir and two with the Carlisle choir, in the next two months, we have plenty of homework to do.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches that I looked down on.

flying goldfinch




Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

23 thoughts on “All hail (and a little snow too)

  1. I always like photos of cattle and the Belted Galloway is such a handsome beast, though a trifle muddy! Glad to see the pulsatillla and primulas aren’t being damaged by the foul weather.

  2. I’m glad the river has dropped to show the unusual stone banks. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.
    I’ll have to go and see if our pulsatilla are blooming yet. I keep forgetting that they’re early bloomers and I’ve missed them for the past two years.
    I like the cloudscape.

  3. I love the circling siskin and redpoll, engaged in avian flamenco dancing. Always enjoy the countryside and photos from your rides and walks.

    Our streams here look much like yours now that the heavy, persistent rains have passed. The small drainage ditch where I keep cuttings is also on the way to drying up for the season. I am not sure what summer has in store for us this year. Fruit trees bloomed ahead of schedule and irises are already blossoming. A few days of hot weather early on caused the mustard to bolt.

    1. The weather has got our flowers rather flummoxed. They have poked up their heads on the one or two warmer days and then remained half out in the chilly times afterwards.

  4. Great timing for your ride, missing the bulk of the hail and snow. I loved the primulas, they look so clean and fresh.

    I hope that you’ve chosen a warm, sunny spot for your get away, you’ve had more than your share of miserable weather this spring.

  5. snow and expected continued bad weather has caused us to abandon plans to cycle camp in Northumberland this weekend. gutted . DH says we don’t have to prove we can cycle in snow – we’ve done it quite a few times and putting up a tent in snow isnt pleasant.

    1. I think that DH is quite right. What might be challenging and fun in one’s twenties and thirties gets to be more like working than playing as the decades go by.

  6. Glad your final plan came to fruition. Loved all the pictures of the Wauchope in flood and out. Fancy having so many birds in your garden that sparrow hawk must have been miles away.

  7. Belted Galloways are such attractive beasties. We have many here in midcoast Maine, where they are often referred to as Oreo cows.

  8. Lovely shot of white pulsatilla. The garden cloches look very neat. We have had hail and sunshine yesterday followed by a massive storm in the evening.

  9. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard anyone else refer to the “softest and most gentle hail.” You are a formidable cyclist.

    Those are wonderful clouds, the Beltie looks as if it has been on a walk with the Cowboy, and I expect the reason you have whole regiments of small birds in the yard is that they are conspiring against the sparrowhawk.

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