Today’s guest picture comes from Fiona, my Newcastle correspondent. She is on a family meander around the Highlands and sent me this picture of the village of Penman where they are staying. The village will be familiar to anyone who has seen the film ‘Local Hero’.
The forecast was quite right and we had a wonderfully sunny day today with the added bonus that it was not too hot for most of the time. Perfect.
I had big plans for the day which would begin with a visit to fill the Moorland feeders as the regular Wednesday feeder fillers were off to Edinburgh, followed by an interesting time in the bird hide getting great woodpecker pictures.
This part of the plan didn’t go so well. I got up in nice time to fill the feeders but found that two bird watchers had already filled up the hide with themselves and their equipment. Two’s company and three’s a crowd so I filled the feeders and came home a bit grumpily.
A butterfly on the buddleia cheered me up.
…and I spotted a dunnock on the plum tree from my own bird hide (the kitchen window).
In spite of the sunshine it was pleasantly cool but some birds seemed to be feeling the heat all the same.
The second part of my grand plan was to leap on my fairly speedy bike and bicycle miles and miles. I secretly had 100 miles in my mind but once again a certain disinclination to get myself organised was manifest and by the time that I got going (after a crossword, some coffee and a bit of toast, it was nearly eleven o’clock so I changed my ambitions from imperial to metrical and settled for trying to do more than 100 kilometres.
This went well.
Although I used mostly familiar roads, I managed to pick out a route that I hadn’t been round before and even included a few miles on a completely new road.
As I went along, there were always interested spectators…
…and fine bridges.
As I was snapping the bridge, I noticed a luscious crop of unpicked blackberries…
…but sadly their survival was down to the fact that they were out of reach down the river bank.
Brydekirk is a typical village with a pub at one end of the street and a church at the other. This was just one of the many churches which I passed on my journey.
There were some big skies when I got out of the hills.
This one was taken at the spot where the vapour trails show that airliners turn left for America.
My new stretch of road involved climbing a stiff hill out of Dalston. When I got to the top I came to an unexpected junction and stopped to consult Google Maps on my phone. As it happened, I stopped opposite a patch of wild flowers which was playing host to about twenty butterflies. Trying to take pictures of very small fluttering objects with bright sun shining onto the viewing screen, wearing dark glasses and just having cycled up a steep hill may explain my inability to bring you this wonderful sight in all its beauty.
The ridge gave me some good views while I was up there.
Google maps came up trumps and I soon swooped down the other side of the hill and crossed the very busy A75 at a suitable crossroads. I was not following a very well used road…
…but it took me safely down to Mousewald and thence on to Powfoot on the Solway shore.
I passed a field of alpacas near Powfoot and noticed that there were a couple of donkeys in with them.
When I got to the sea shore at Powfoot, the sea was a long way off…
…but I could see the English side very well.
Out on the sand banks, there was a family vainly trying to get a paddle…
…and beside me was a very colourful lichen.
The light wind was behind me now as I pedalled through Annan and on to Gretna where I stopped at the Old Toll Bar for a cup of tea and a teacake. To my surprise, I met another Langholm cyclist who had also stopped there on his ride. We sat and chatted for a while and discovered that we were doing roughly the same distance but in completely different directions, his route having taken him south of Carlisle. He was going quite a lot faster than me too.
I polished off my teacake and set off to add an eight mile loop to my route to Longtown which took me through this woody tunnel near Justicetown.
Once I got to Longtown, I took the straight way up the main road back to Langholm, stopping only to note some fine daisies on the Canonbie bypass…
…and a daddy long legs on a bollard beside the road.
It had got quite hot for the last few miles of the trip and I was glad to get home and sit down in the cool of the kitchen and have another cup of tea. Although I had eaten well, two bananas, a filled roll and a teacake and drunk well too, three water bottles and a cup of tea, I had managed to lose a kilogram on the ride so it must have been a bit warmer than it felt.
Those interested in the details of the ride can click on the map as usual.
On a rough calculation, 71 miles translates into 113 kilometres so I did achieve Plan B at least.
It was still a beautiful evening after I had had my shower so a brief walk round the garden was in order. There were more butterflies there.
It is wonderful what a bit of sunshine will do.
Strangely enough, I didn’t really feel like going on a flying bird walk for some reason so a Golden Syllabub rose, held up by my lovely assistant, will have to do as flower of the day instead.