Today’s guest picture is a very strange aperture in the clouds sent to me by our son Tony. Perhaps the weather gods had opened their kitchen window to see what he was up to down below.
We had a second sunny day running here today. Once again, it was quite chilly after breakfast so I had a cup of coffee, watched the birds…
…did the crossword, bought some spinach from our corner shop and only then, set off.
I decided to go in a different direction today and started up the main road through the Ewes Valley, which was looking very inviting in the morning sunshine.
Wafted up the gentle hill by a favouring gale, I reached Fiddleton Toll in no time and turned off to go over the hill and down into Liddesdale.
This quiet road has recently been resurfaced and was in very good condition so I pedalled along in a very cheerful mood…
…which persisted even when I came to the steep hill up to Carrotrigg. It may not look very steep in the picture but I needed to use my lowest gear to get up it without putting too much strain on my tin knee.
I took the precaution of stopping after a while on the excuse of looking at the view behind me. It is one of my favourite views so it was a good excuse.
The road ahead doesn’t look too bad either and there can have been few people in the world who felt more blessed at that moment than I did.
As I rode along the Carrotrigg hogsback, looking at the hills around me, I was metaphorically, and almost literally, for a moment at least, on top of the world.
I went down the steep hill on the far side with extreme caution. It was a bit of a waste of all the height that I had had to work so hard to gain but I was happy to get to the valley bottom in one piece and be able to enjoy this little bridge…
…and this neatly maintained circular sheep pen…
…before arriving at Hermitage Castle (closed for the winter months)…
…the last stop before I got onto the road south which follows the Liddel Water through Liddesale, visits Newcastleton and then drops down to Canonbie.
The nature of my pedal changed here as now I was cycling into the sun and the steady breeze which had been so helpful in pushing me up the hills so far.
It was not only this tree that was feeling the strain.
Still, the road to Newcastleton from Hermitage is gently downhill so even into the wind, I was making reasonable progress and passing interesting things….
…until I was stopped in my tracks by the sound of my mobile phone ringing in my back pocket.
It had stopped ringing by the time that I had stopped pedalling and when I got it out, I found that the missed call had come from Mrs Tootlepedal. I noticed that I had also received a text message from Sandy. Intrigued, I rang Mrs Tootlepedal back and was appalled to find that she was at the Archive Group’s annual lunch, a lunch which I should have been at too. We had both forgotten about it completely and Sandy had gone to fetch Mrs Tootlepedal who had been hard at work in the garden.
With twenty hard miles to go to get back to Langholm, it was obvious that I wasn’t going to make the lunch so I pedalled on in rather a chastened mood.
Still, what was done was done, and there was nothing for it but to enjoy the rest of the ride as best as I could.
I stopped before I got to Newcastleton to take a picture of this railway bridge over a disused section of the old Waverley Line from Edinburgh to Carlisle.
The northern half of this line has been re-opened in recent years and there is a strong push to get the southern half reinstated as soon as possible.
It would be nice to see this happen but it will need a lot of good will, hard work, excellent planning and pots of money, all of which seem to be in short supply at the moment.
I stopped in Newcastleton itself, and sat on a handy bench while I ate a banana and a finger of chocolate wafer. Opposite me, the village’s two hotels, sitting side by side in the main square, looked to be keeping quite busy.
Outside the hotels, there is a spot where free drink has been available in times past.
I had a real battle against the wind as I toiled up the three long hills which lie between Newcastleton and Canonbie. Although this section of the route is slightly downhill overall as it follows the river, it never seems like that to me. This is probably because the uphill sections are long and gradual and the downhill sections are short and sharp so I spend a lot more time going up than down.
I turned off just before I reached Canonbie and took a back road along to the Hollows. This meant passing a sign with two words which by themselves fill my cycling heart with misgivings and together make me very worried.
A nearby tree made the hill and the wind seem not so bad.
When I got home after just under 40 miles, I was welcomed by the crocuses…
…and Mrs Tootlepedal who had returned from the Archivists’ Lunch.
Not unsurprisingly, the archivists had managed to have a very good time with no help from me and both the food and the conversation had been thoroughly enjoyable. Nancy, the organiser, was very gracious when I rang up to apologise for my incompetence. She was rather relieved in one way because if I had appeared on cue, it would have meant thirteen people sitting down for lunch, a number which she regards as very ill omened. Perhaps it was for the best after all.
I had got home from my ride at a good moment because our day turned from bright and sunny into very gloomy and rainy in what seemed like the twinkling of an eye. Some of the gloom may have come from another very uneven performance by the Scotland rugby team which lead to a sound defeat by the French.
I used the spinach that I had bought in the morning to make a meal of baked eggs on a bed of spinach with a rich cheese sauce for our tea. It went down well as I had missed my lunch!
I didn’t have long to look out of the window today but a passing chaffinch appeared at the right time to become the flying bird of the day.
Those interested can find details of my route by clicking on the map below. I did thirteen miles fewer today than yesterday but climbed 100 feet more so it was not surprising that I was a lot slower.