Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia. I have seen many murmurations of starlings before but I have never seen one where the starlings murmured in the actual shape of a starling. She was on the Somerset levels when she took this amazing picture.
We had another morning of family fun with Matilda and her parents and then, after a light but creative lunch, Al, Clare and Matilda got into their car and drove off to Edinburgh. There was no argument, it had been a very good Christmas, and we were sad to see them go.
On the down side, as is probably inevitable over the Christmas period, too much eating had gone on, and both Mrs Tootlepedal and I felt that a good walk was needed to help shoogle down some of the surplus calories.
We started off at two o’clock and it was already very grey as we walked up the road past Holmwood…..
The camera needed its flash to record another concrete fence post with a mossy head. This one looked as though it needed a hair cut.
The ways of walls are curious. This one beside the road was absolutely covered in moss until it wasn’t. Why the moss had chosen to stop there is one of the questions that may never be answered.
And just round the corner, the moss gave way to a huge collection of spleenwort. The wall is covered with it for many metres.
We turned off the main road and walked along the quiet back road to Potholm. Even on a grey day, the country has its charms…
…and the mist was rising off the hills as we went along.
Our plan was to walk to Potholm along one side of the Esk, cross the bridge and walk back to Langholm on the other side of the river. We paused to consider our options though when a furious fusillade of shots rang out across the valley. A pheasant shoot was taking place along our route home.
Would it be finished by the time that we got there? We thought that it would, and walked on. There must have been a lot of pheasants about though because the shooting went on for ages and we were across the bridge at Potholm before it stopped.
I looked back from the bridge at Milnholm farmhouse, judiciously perched on a little ridge above the floodplain.
I had been a bit worried that it might be dark before we got home and the forecast had been for a good chance of rain on the way, but it stayed dry. It even got a little brighter at one moment so we could look back down the valley and the see the way that we had come.
Our road is hidden behind the wall that runs along the top of the fields.
As we passed the lonesome pine, we could hear gamekeepers whistling to their dogs as they collected the ‘bag’ for the day.
The shooting had finished by the time we got to the scene and we were able to walk past unscathed.
When we were passing the pheasant hatchery, we noticed another victim of the wet and windy weather. Our trees grow in shallow soil.
By the time that we got to the Duchess Bridge, it was too dark to take pictures…
…but we were very pleased to get home while it was still light enough to be able to walk in comfort. We had managed 5 miles in just under two hours and it had been warm enough for us to unbutton our coats and I had taken off my new Christmas gloves too.
The trouble about having a good walk to shake down too much eating is that it gives you an appetite. I had two slices of Christmas cake with my post walk cup of tea. Ah well, I can always have another walk tomorrow.
It’s very quiet here with no-one to play Ludo and Snakes and Ladders with me.
The flying birds of the day are a small flock of gulls, disturbed by the pheasant shooters and looking for somewhere with a bit of peace and quiet.