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.
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.
There was interest along the way, with a flourishing crop of vetch and some colourful bramble leaves…
…as well as a selection of mosses on a wall….
…and ferns and script lichens as well.
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.
We have had a dry spell lately and there was really very little water going down the Byreburn.
We passed a sensational crop of fungus on a pile of wood chippings.
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…
….though it came and went and the clouds were back as we walked through these well clipped beech hedges near the old station.
The sun came back to light up the last few yards of our walk and picked out some broom…
…and the trunks of the trees beside the road…
…as well as a thin string of ivy climbing a substantial tree…
…and the white lichen making a twisted tree trunk positively shine.
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.
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.
One late-coming duck flew up at great speed.
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.
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.
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.