In the steps of Telford


Today’s guest picture is another from Dropscone’s visit to Brooklands.  As well as the old motor racing track, he and Susan met an even faster bit of transport history..


It was just above freezing when we got up but there was no sign of any ice and the sun was out and it was a pleasant morning.   It was too cold to go cycling straight after breakfast so I considered a walk instead.  While I was mulling things over, I looked out of the window.

Sometimes there were siskins…


…and sometimes chaffinches arrived from all sides.

chaffinches arriving

Then I had to cycle round to the shop to get some milk and the ice free state of the roads persuaded me that a trip out on the slow bike would be a good idea.  It had to be a trip on the slow bike because the chain on my fairly speedy bike has not been repaired yet.

The slow bike gives me more chance to look around as I pedal along and so I thought that I would go up a less travelled route today and I followed the Esk instead of the Wauchope and stopped often to admire the views…

Gates of Eden

…which is not hard to do on a day like today.

Esk at Douglen and Craig

I passed a very nice burst of snowdrops in a wood near Hopsrig…


…and called in at the Telford Library at Bentpath.  This library was endowed by the great engineer Thomas Telford, whose biography was featured on BBC Radio 4 last week so I thought that it might interest the readers who have told me that they heard the programmes.

There is both a 1928 memorial for the great man and a modern information board about the library outside the building…

telford at Bentpath

…but unfortunately the library itself was not looking at its best today.

Westerkirk Library

I should say, to avoid confusion, that the village is called Bentpath but the library is in the parish of Westerkirk and Telford was born in the parish but not the village.

The library  was established in January 1793 when the ‘Louisa’ antimony mine owners, the Westerhall Mining Company, and several individuals presented a collection of 23 books to the miners.  Later on Telford gave the library the huge sum of £1000 pounds in his will.  It is believed to be the oldest library in Scotland still functioning as a library.

Looking across the river Esk from the library, the field where the flower show is held in September seemed very peaceful today.

Esk at Bentpath

I went down to the river and crossed the bridge…

Bentpath Bridge
The gravel bank shows that the river is not always so calm.

…had a look at lichen and leaves on the far bank…

lichen and leaves

…nodded at the church (built 1788)…

Westerkirk church

…and pedalled on up the road to visit the birthplace of Telford.

To get there, I had to leave the Esk and follow the Meggat Water up its valley…

Meggat valley

In spite of the well surfaced road and gentle gradients, it is quite hard to pedal up the Meggat valley because you have to stop and take pictures all the time.

Meggat water

Meggat water the old school
The old school

But I did finally get to my destination, Glendinning, the birthplace of Telford, and I left my bike and walked up to the cairn raised in memory of the great man.

Telford Cairn

The house were he was born can no longer be seen but this was the view that he would have seen in his childhood.


I had really enjoyed pottering up the ten miles from Langholm to get here and the sun and a friendly wind might have had something to do with this.  In fact, they definitely did because as I turned for home, the sun went in and the strength of the wind that had wafted me up the hill became apparent when I had to pedal a good deal harder to get back down the glen than I had had to to get up it.

Without the sun, the wind was distinctly chilly and the ride home was hard work so I didn’t stop to admire the view at all, though I did pause to photograph one of the less used bridges over the Esk.

Bridge at Georgefield

It looks as though it might be still usable but you would need a mighty big step to actually get onto it.

I did stop once more, mainly to get a break from battling the cruel wind for a moment but also to show the jump training track for our local racehorse stables.

Craig race track

I was pleased to get home and pleased to have done 21 miles on the slow bike even though I hadn’t managed to get my average speed up to ten miles an hour, making it the slowest ride I have done this year by far.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I set about clearing up the rest of the berberis and associated trimmings from our attack of a couple of days ago.  By the time that it was all shifted and shredded and added to the compost bin, I was quite ready for a sit down and while I was sitting, we were joined by Mike Tinker so we had a welcome cup of tea and a biscuit.

Having pedalled in the day, the evening was given over to tootling as first my flute pupil Luke came and then I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  A bit of music was a splendid way to finish a rewarding day which I though had been well spent.

I did get a bare tree on my pedals.  This one was on the road up the Meggat Water.

Meggat tree

And I managed to catch a flying chaffinch in the nick of time before it became a perching bird of the day.

flying chaffinch



Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

35 thoughts on “In the steps of Telford

  1. I don’t know what it is about those barren hillsides but they call to me.
    It’s interesting to get some background information on Thomas Telford. I wonder if the hills in his view were bare in his day.
    I’d like to walk across that bridge if I could find a way onto it.
    I like the tree on the hillside. Proof that they will be vertical whenever possible.

  2. I just listened to the Telford programmes this weekend on iPlayer. It was really interesting. Bob and I had been up the valley a few years ago (but couldn’t get his wheelchair to the memorial itself). It’s a beautiful valley, thanks for the pictures.

  3. What a lovely ride out with those glorious views, the blanket of snowdrops photo and then the library and Telford memorial- all so very interesting. Thank you.

  4. It doesn’t seem to matter what direction you go when you’re cycling, the views and your images are always spectacular! It was interesting to learn more about Telford, some one that I had heard a little of in the past. Being able to connect what I had heard before with the information in your post helped me understand even more about him.

    1. He was what was a called a lad of parts and the myth was that anyone on Scotland could be like him but of course you would need quite a lot of talent and good connections.

  5. Beautiful views on your cycle ride! It is good to see where Thomas Telford came from. I had a Scottish teacher in infants school called Mrs Glendinning. I had no idea there was a village of the same name!

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