Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony. The seals have returned to East Wemyss.
We had another frosty morning here but it wasn’t hard enough to any harm and the upside was another sunny day to follow. The sunshine led to a lot a photographs being taken, too many of which appear in this post….but it was a lovely day.
The bees have been encouraged by seeing me pollinating the plum blossom and have started in on the job themselves.
Mrs Tootlepedal showed me a willow twig which she had stuck into the ground and which is doing what willows do and growing vigorously. Nearby the last of the daffodils is coming into flower.
Sandy came round for coffee and Mrs Tootlepedal and I arranged to go on an outing with him to make the best of the sunny day. He went home to get organised and I had time to mow the front lawn and watch the birds squabble…
…and get very up close and personal…
…before we went round to the garage to put petrol in the car and then to pick Sandy up.
We needed the fuel because we had a grand tour in mind, starting by driving north to Eskdalemuir.
Upper Eskdale can be a severe place to live in winter but on a lovely spring morning, it bears a marked resemblance to Shangri-La
We stopped at The Hub, a community centre in the old school in the village, for a light lunch and we took the chance while we were there to arrange a date later in the year for a camera club exhibition.
Then we continued north, crossing the county boundary and driving down into the Ettrick valley. It is a picturesque but narrow road and we were lucky that we had parked to enjoy the scenery when this large log lorry whizzed by.
We turned left at Tushielaw and followed the trail of the lonesome pine…
…over the hill and down into the Yarrow valley. There we turned west and headed for St St Mary’s Loch, a beautiful sight at any time but particularly so when the weather is fine.
At the far end of the Loch, which is three miles long, a small bridge crosses the very short stream…
…which flows between St Mary’s Loch and the Loch o’ the Lowes…
…where we parked the car and went for a little walk.
We crossed the bridge between the lochs and walked past fine pine trees…
…until we came to the track along the south shore of St Mary’s Loch.
We stopped for some moments of reflection…
…and then headed along the shore towards a wood we could see about half a mile away.
The loch sits in a bowl surrounded by fine hills.
As we walked along, we were serenaded by oyster catchers.
Sandy and I walked along a track across sheep cropped grass while Mrs Tootlepedal chose the pebbly shore…
…but she called us down to the waterside to see a strange phenomenon. Every rock and stone under the water at the edge of the loch was covered in bubbles.
We had never seen anything like this and wondered whether it was small plants or algae on the rocks ‘breathing out’. There was no smell so it didn’t seem as though it might be decaying vegetable matter. We would welcome suggestions from anyone who might have come across this before.
Leaving the bubbly rocks, we walked on towards the wood…
…admiring a fine house on the other side of the water.
An information board in the wood told us that it was ‘The March Wood’, and described it as ‘a magical place’.
We didn’t disagree.
It had a rich history connected with William Wallace and royal hunts among other things and it was no hardship to spend a few peaceful minutes there..
Someone is taking care of the wood and new trees are being planted.
We walked back to the yacht club at the head of the loch…
…and on the way Mrs Tootlepedal enjoyed a hearty laugh when a well-intentioned stranger leapt up from a bench where he was sitting and asked me if I need a helping hand as I climbed over a stile. I didn’t realise that I looked that bad.
As we stood and chatted, a pair of spirited canoeists passed us as great speed.
We moved on and said goodbye to the loch…
…as we went up to examine the impressive statue of James Hogg, who lived from 1770 to 1835. Commonly referred to as The Ettrick Shepherd, he was a poet and novelist who wrote in both Scots and English and who became one of the most unlikely literary figures ever to emerge from Scotland.
The monument was unveiled on 28 June 1860 in front of a crowd of 2000 people who had gathered for the event.
What makes it especially interesting to us is that it was made from a single block of sandstone cut from the quarry on Whita Hill above Langholm. The block was so big that the whole town turned out to watch it being brought down off the hill by cart.
Leaving the loch and the monument, we kept going westward and descended the steep hill down towards Moffat…
…passing the Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall on our way. We thought of stopping there too but the call of a cup of tea and a toasted teacake in Moffat was too strong to resist and we headed on with pausing.
The tea and teacake were just what we wanted and gave us strength for the journey home (after we had visited the garden centre in the middle of the town). The final stage of our tour was a dull but speedy affair involving the motorway. After sixty miles on narrow and twisting roads, the dullness was very acceptable.
The whole trip was just under 100 miles and was a pretty good way to spend an afternoon. I notice that Sandy has put an account of the trip on his blog and if you have a moment, I can recommend a visit as he has taken some very nice pictures of our day indeed (better than mine). You can find his story here.
The flying bird of the day is a resident chaffinch.