Today’s guest picture, sent to me by my friend Bruce, shows that Langholm has two experienced hole inspectors. Here the results of recent heavy rain were under examination.
The wind had finally exhausted itself and we woke to a picture perfect day. Well, nearly picture perfect as there were signs of frost in the garden but things warmed up slowly and I waited for the thermometer to reach 5°C before setting out on a bike ride.
I had time for a glance out of the window. Some birds tucked into the seed…
…and some birds wasted time quarrelling.
The thermometer came up to the required point exactly at the time that I might have been eating the treacle scones that Dropscone had offered to bring round but there are some days that are just so made for cycling that even a treacle scone has to give way and in the end, in spite of pangs, I didn’t regret my decision.
It is my plan (for as long as possible) to do at least one ride each year that contains as many miles as I have years. My birthday is in November when the days are too short for long rides at the pace which I can sustain so I have to wait for a good day in spring. This was that day and I set out with 75 miles as my target. To help me reach this target, I chose an easy route that ran through the flat lands along the Solway shore…
…although, as the elevation for the route shows…
….you always have to climb a little to leave the town if you don’t go down the main road south and if you go down to the sea, you always have to climb a little to get home again.
Generally speaking though, my ride was undemanding and delightfully windless.
Although the verges are not full of wild flowers yet, the celandines are doing their best and in places they are quite spectacular.
I did put in a little climb before I got to Annan to avoid having to go right through the town and this took me up past the nuclear power station at Chapelcross, which is being very slowly dismantled.
In considering the mental gymnastics that politicians must go through when they wonder if their policies are at all consistent, I think that saying that we must have financial austerity because we don’t want to leave debts for our children to repay and being enthusiastic supporters of nuclear energy, which will require several generations of our children to keep on and on paying for decommissioning of reactors and storage of toxic waste for an energy source from which they will not have had any energy is a bit confusing.
I put this thought out of my mind and enjoyed the hill back down into Annan.
After Annan, I was cycling along the shores of the Solway for all but the last 14 miles of my journey and although the country through which I was pedalling is not very exciting, the view across the Solway was very rewarding.
I was more intent on cycling than taking pictures today but I did stop from time to time for a breather and tried to choose an interesting spot.
This is the bridge over the Lochar Water at Bankend….
…and this is the ruined tower a little upstream.
A mile or two further on, I came upon Caerlaverock Castle, an altogether better class of ruin.
I didn’t visit it, although it has a tearoom, because there is a cheaper tearoom with better food (in my experience) at the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust nearby so I went to that for my lunch.
Fortified by a very well cooked baked potato and an apple slice, I set off home.
Once again my plan was to stop at regular intervals for a breather and my first stop this time was at the Brow Well…
…which used to be used as a source of allegedly therapeutic drinks for invalids. It is a chalybeate spring, meaning that the water that dribbles from the spout low on one side contains significant concentrations of iron salts. It is chiefly famous for helping to finish off the poet Robert Burns who was sent there just before his death. They wisely don’t let the water accumulate in it now. I like the little bridge beside the well.
The poet was also made to bathe in the Solway so I went to have a look but the Solway was out and nowhere to be seen and I contented myself with snapping an unusually creamy brown lichen and a thriving gorse bush…
…before pedalling on.
My route took me past a field with a nice comparison of horse sizes…
…and a small flock of what I take to be alpacas…
….and then down to the shore at Powfoot.
The sea was still out but there was some very nice shining mud.
…and the Lake District on the far shore was still looking wonderful.
I pressed on through Annan and got to Gretna just as the cafe in which I was hoping to get a cup of tea and a fancy cake, closed for the day.
I ate half a banana and some dates and sulked.
My next stop was to admire the church at Canonbie, which was looking at its best in the evening sun.
Although, I was quite perky, my bike was a bit tired so I gave it a last rest near Irving House and while it snoozed, I offered up some suitable thanks for a brilliant cycling day at the small sacred grove nearby.
When I got back to the town, I looked down at my bike computer and was suddenly overcome by decimal fever so I did a gratuitous tour of the New Town to bring my mileage exactly up to eighty miles. This was more than satisfactory.
Mrs Tootlepedal had spent the day painting the bathroom door and doing a lot of gardening so we were both tired but happy.
More good weather is forecast for tomorrow.
I caught a flying bird before I left.
For those interested in these things, details of my ride can be found by clicking on the map below. Thanks to the benign conditions, I did the eighty miles at a better average speed than I did the twenty miles in the wind yesterday.
It was cold at the start but much warmer by the end.