The Grand Old Duke of York

Aysgarth Falls (Middle Force

Today’s guest picture comes from my neighbour Gavin who is on holiday in the north of England.  It shows the middle force of the Aysgarth Falls in the Yorkshire Dales.

Aysgarth Falls (Middle Force

There was very little force of any sort about me this morning as I was in super pottering mode and although I got up into my cycling gear, it took me until midday to actually get my bicycle out and go pedalling.

I did look round the garden while I was footling about doing nothing.

The Feverfew is flourishing

I saw a young blackbird enjoying the sunshine.


When I did get going on my fairly speedy bike, I set off to the north, following the course of the River Esk.  I crossed it several times during the day and stopped to record the river as I went.

River Esk at Bentpath
River Esk at Bentpath, 6 miles north of Langholm
Church at Bentpath seen from the bridge
The church at Bentpath seen from the bridge

The road leaves the river for a while north of Bentpath and climbs steadily up the Shaw Rigg.  When you come over the summit, the upper Esk valley lies in front of you.

Esk valley

I stopped on the second bridge across the river at the village of Eskdalemuir.

River Esk at Eskdalemuir
The White Esk at Eskdalemuir, 12 miles north of Langholm

The road to Eskdalemuir is gently undulating for the most part…..

B 709

…and on a good day, this part of the country really does look like the sunlit uplands and might bring Shangri-La to mind so it is no surprise to find a Buddhist temple beside the road.

Samye Ling

I kept pedalling north and crossed the river again at Fingland,

The River Esk from Fingland Bridge
The White Esk from Fingland Bridge, 17 miles north of Langholm

It was not long before I got to the country where the White Esk starts…

Glen Dearg

…and the watershed between The Esk and Ettrick valleys.

Scottish Borders sign

I had thoroughly enjoyed my 20 mile pedal up the steady climb from Langholm and even at 1000ft it was a warm and pleasant day so I considered going on down the hill to foreign parts but the knowledge that quite a lot of the pleasure of the ride had been provided by a helpful wind behind me made me decide that I had gone far enough.

Bicycling back downhill into the wind was hard enough and I stopped at The Hub in the old school at Eskdalemuir for a cup of their excellent filter coffee and a toasted teas cake to get my strength up.  I took a slightly round about and hilly route to get home but I had enough puff left when I got back to Langholm to add the extra two miles to get my total up to a neat 50 miles.

I had stopped to take a few more bridge shots but the clouds had thickened up and the day was a bit too gloomy for landscape pictures.  I did notice a good crop of orchids by the bridge across the Black Esk though.


I got home in perfect time to watch the last 15km of the Tour de France stage and enjoy another well worked victory for the Manx Missile, Mark Cavendish.  I noticed during my ride that I was going down a hill flat out at 50 kmph and he was probably going faster than that in his final sprint on the flat.  A great man.

Those interested can find details of the route by clicking the map below.

garmin route 7 July 2016

Sandy came round for a cup of tea but he was too busy and I was too tired for a walk.  I settled for a stroll round the garden and admired the Charles Ross apples which are looking very promising.

apples Charles ross

On a cycle ride last year, Mrs Tootlepedal had acquired a melancholy thistle from the road side and planted it in our garden.  I had passed the very site today and seen some still growing there as well as many more further along on my trip.  The one on the garden is doing very well.

Melancholy thistle, Cirsium heterophyllum
Melancholy thistle, Cirsium heterophyllum

In the evening, I went to Carlisle with Susan and as the A7 between Longtown and Carlisle was closed for repairs, we had to venture onto the Motorway to get to our recorders.  This was very brave as Susan doesn’t generally do motorway driving but we survived and arrived safely.

We got home too having enjoyed a fine evening of quartets.

The flower of the day is a Rosa Mundi…

Rosa Mundi

…and the flying bird is a siskin, slipping between pole and feeder.

flying siskin




Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

19 thoughts on “The Grand Old Duke of York

  1. 50 miles is quite a ride.
    Interesting how the color of the clouds changed from place to place. It looked like you might have gotten rained on in one or two places.
    The melancholy thistle is said to “make a man as merry as a cricket” according to 16th century botanist Nicholas Culpepper.

    1. I’m glad. It came about because I found that I had forgotten to put a good flower picture in one day so I stuck it in at the end and called it flower of the day.

  2. Very commendable long ride and great to see pictures along the way – how you had the energy to go out in the evening I do not know.

  3. The countryside is very pretty, Tom, and surprisingly does look somewhat like the hills and valleys around the small town that we call Esk which is only about 100km from where I live. I wonder if new settlers to the area were reminded of their homelands and called it Esk for that reason. Anyway, I very much enjoyed your cycling tour and I appreciated the beautiful thistle as well. I’m very fond of them as I think I’ve mentioned before. They bring back a lovely childhood memory for me. Thank you. Well done on the impressive mileage too.

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