Walking the walk

Today’s guest picture comes from Stephen, my Australian correspondent.  He says that it is easy to see the effects of the bush fires raging in the Blue Mountains while walking the streets of Sydney, especially as the sun comes up behind the haze at dawn.

sydney ash

We were hoping for some sun here today and we did get a slightly warmer day but sunshine was strictly rationed and we got only a very small glimmer now and again.  In spite of the grey skies, our visitor Patricia thought that a walk would be useful after her long sit on the train yesterday so we got in the car and drove down to the Hollows where we set out on foot to visit the Fairy Loup.

This 1.7 mile circular walk starts by going along the old A7, which was closed to traffic after a landslip about 40 years ago. One half of the carriageway remains and it is used occasionally by a local farmer as you can see from the tracks between the layer of beech mast which covered the rest of the road.

old a7 Byreburn Mrs t and Pat

There was interest along the way, with a flourishing crop of vetch and some colourful bramble leaves…

vetch and bramble

…as well as a selection of mosses on a wall….

moss on A7 wall

…and ferns and script lichens as well.

fern and script lichen

The winter months are the best for actually seeing the waterfall at the Fairy Loup but even without the leaves on them, the tree branches are growing so much that a clear view is impossible.

fairy loup November

We have had a dry spell lately and there was really very little water going down the Byreburn.

above the fairy loup

We passed a sensational crop of fungus on a pile of wood chippings.

fungus beside byreburn

Our direction of travel round the walk was well chosen because when we came out of the shelter offered by the Byreburn valley, we found that the nippy wind was behind us as we walked back down the road to our car.

There was even a little sunshine to light up the gates that we passed…

two gates gilnockie

….though it came and went and the clouds were back as we walked through these well clipped beech hedges near the old station.

neat hedge gilnockie

The sun came back to light up the last few yards of our walk and picked out some broom…

broom Gilnockie

…and the trunks of the trees beside the road…

trees byreburn wood

…as well as a thin string of ivy climbing a substantial tree…

ivy byreburn

…and the white lichen making a twisted tree trunk positively shine.

tree byreburn

We didn’t go directly home after our walk but stopped at the Buccleuch Centre for a light lunch in their excellent foyer coffee bar.

I had a look at the bird feeder when we got back after lunch, but there was very little avian traffic and the light was poor again, so I put my bird camera in the bag on the back of my slow bike and pedalled down to the river to see if I could see a bird or two there.

I saw several gulls perched on the electricity wires beside the Esk but they stayed stubbornly put as I watched so I left them to it and cycled over the bridge and on to the Kilngreen.

gulls on wire

There was  more movement here.  A large flock of ducks came rushing down the river towards me as soon as i got near the river, mistaking me perhaps for someone with bread in his pocket.  When no bread was forthcoming, they circled around and headed back up river muttering morosely.

ducks hoping for bread

One late-coming duck flew up at great speed.

swift duck

There were plenty of gulls about and they lifted themselves off the rocks where they were perched and took to the air from time to time.

two gulls

It was chilly so I didn’t spend too long watching them.

When I got home, I put on my cycling gear and went out into the cold garage and cycled on the bike to nowhere for half and hour.  Listening to the radio helped to lessen the tedium of looking at this view.

garage view

In the evening, I took Patricia and Mrs Tootlepedal out for a meal as a premature celebration of my birthday which is tomorrow.

As I have had a persistent feeling all year that I am a year older than I actually am, tomorrow is not going to be a big day as nothing will change….except of course that I might then start to think that I am another year older than I actually will be. For the record, I will be 78 tomorrow and I only hope that if I live to be 90, I will still be able to walk round the Fairy Loup with as much zest as our 90 year old guest Patrica demonstrated today.  She is a wonder.

The flying bird of the day is one of those Kilngreen gulls looking for a handy rock.

gull landing

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, novice photogrpaher

41 thoughts on “Walking the walk

  1. Happy almost birthday! It does seem an odd way of marking time the older I get. What a lovely place to walk. For what it’s worth just as well no one had bread for the ducks because it’s really not good for them. The Black-headed Gulls are beautiful.

  2. I like those beech hedges but it’s a tree I never would have thought to use as a hedge.
    That’s a great crop of mushrooms for this time of year. We’ve had too dry a year for many fungi this year.
    I’ll be pleased to just be able to get out of bed at 78. Happy Birthday!

  3. Happy birthday for tomorrow and your countryside makes for such a pretty contrast to where I am at the moment which is Australia, home of drought and fire.

      1. They are the worst fires I have ever known, the season has started earlier than normal and the fires have been harder to control. The drought has made the bush tinder dry, it is going to be a horror fire season unfortunately. It is nice to drop by your blog and see your lovely photos, a contrast to the Australian countryside.

  4. I’m going to say an early Happy Birthday because tomorrow I’ll have surgery in one of my eyes. 🙂

  5. Happy birthday (it’s probably tomorrow where you are). Adding a wish for good weather for you.

    You might try taping some pictures on that wall you’ve been staring at. 😉

  6. A cardboard box for a view. I can see why pedalling to “nowhere” is so tedious, but listening to the radio, there’s an idea for me. I can get those BBC podcasts on my phone, which might just get me pedalling to nowhere as well, because it hasn’t stopped raining here all day. The forecast is dire as well. All I need is to clear a space in the big shed, and get my single speed set up and a way to go! A way to go, pedalling nowhere, that doesn’t seem to quite gel. Meanwhile, I am planning my ride into work for my night shift tomorrow, I reckon the roads through the town of Neath will be that bit quieter so as not to worry me too much. But staying dry is my main hope. I dug out some overshoes I bought years ago, but never wore. Do you have such accessories tootlepedal? I am unable to get them on over my cycling shoes, they are medium size which is supposed to accommodate my size 8 shoes (42 euro). I’ve checked with the manufacturer’s web site which confirms they should fit, but alas no chance. Perhaps there is a trick to it, or some sort of special manoeuvre that is beyond my ken? By the way I’m already, unintentionally, adding a year onto my age. Why? I don’t know. Cheers.

    1. I have great difficulty getting my overshoes over my size 10 feet and at the moment, I have stopped trying as my arthritic fingers object. I am wearing waterproof socks instead. Keep safe on these dark wet days.

  7. Wishing you a happy birthday for tomorrow! Pat at 90, and you at 78, are an inspiration to all of us coming up the ranks. I am not sure how young Mrs. T is, but I wish I had even half of her skills. She is amazing.

    So there are hedges made of beeches over there? I would not have thought of them as good hedge specimens. Hawthorn I can definitely see as living fence.

  8. You were fortunate to enjoy such a lovely walk with your sprightly company, after all the cold weather you’ve had. Love the gates, the ‘forest’ of tree trunks and the gull photos. Hope the weather stays fine for you to have a special walk or cycle to somewhere interesting to celebrate your birthday..enjoy it all.

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