Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew. He recently found himself on top of Bosley Cloud, a 1125ft eminence on the Staffordshire- Cheshire border with, according to to the Visit Cheshire website, stunning views over the surrounding countryside. It lived up to its name when my brother was there though, and there was a marked absence of views, stunning or otherwise.
We had plenty of clouds here today as well. In fact it was so gloomy that when I threw open the curtains to welcome the day, the room actually got darker.
Still, we sang some cheerful Christmas carols when we got to church. Our new minister takes the view that Christmas is too good to be wasted on just one Sunday in the year. I agree. We returned home for coffee and a mince pie and as I added a modicum of brandy butter to mine, all was well with the world in spite of the dark clouds.
After lunch, we considered our options. It was dry and warm (7°C) so I considered a bike ride but checking on the wind, I found that gusts of up to 30 mph were expected. Mrs Tootlepedal fancied some exercise so she and I went off for another walk instead.
After yesterday’s tramp up hill and over rough terrain, Mrs Tootlepedal called for a flatter route on dry roads today so we drove down to the Hollows Bridge and walked the three mile Canonbie circle along to the village by the top road and back by the old main road beside the river.
Mrs Tootlepedal stopped to read an historical information board by the Hollows bridge and I checked to see if there were still stone statues in the wood there.
We crossed the bridge and stopped to talk to the owner of the Archimedes screw who was just setting off for a family walk and then we took the top road to Canonbie.
I was very impressed by the neat appearance of a hedge in a field beside the road.
Purists may think that it is a bit too sparse to be effective as a hedge but as it has a wire fence right behind it, that doesn’t matter too much.
As is often the case, the weather had got much better once we had got south of Langholm and out of the hills. Looking back as we went up the top road, we could see the impressive gloom over the town behind us.
Even without the dark clouds overhead, it wasn’t sunny and as we walked along a stretch of road between a conifer wood and a tall beech hedge, the camera was unimpressed by the amount of light available.
It was able to pick up a crop of catkins though, a reminder that we are on our way towards spring now.
We passed a lot of good trees along our route but this one was my choice for tree of the day.
The road to the village took us along the top of a steep escarpment above the river and I could look down on Canonbie church, which almost seemed to be catching a hint of sunshine.
Mrs Tootlepedal called my attention to a dunnock. As a dunnock is also called a hedge sparrow, it was good to see one living up to its name by posing on a hedge for me.
(It turns out that a dunnock is not a sparrow at all but an accentor.)
Although we weren’t in sunshine, there was blue sky above our heads, we were sheltered from any wind and we had left the black Langholm cloud behind us so walking was very comfortable.
We passed a fir tree in a garden before we got to the village. It was covered in smallish upright cones and looked very like a Korean pine but with brown not blue cones.
As we walked down the path to the village, Mrs Tootlepedal noticed this bracket fungus on the fence rail. It is unusual to see them on treated wood like this.
Canonbie’s Public Hall has a fine clock which celebrates the centenary of the hall in 2012.
We crossed the river Esk by the newly resurfaced Canonbie bridge and walked along the old main road back to the Hollows Bridge. There was a moment when the sun actually shone on us and we could see our chadows…
…but it didn’t last and the sun was so low anyway that the trees on the far bank of the river were looking very sombre.
It wasn’t a day for sitting at the fine new bench at the lay-by and having a picnic.
Rather worryingly, the back cloud over Langholm seemed to be slipping south and was getting nearer and nearer to us.
This lent a bit of urgency to the last half mile of our journey but I still had time to admire a monkey puzzle tree in a garden at Byreburnfoot.
I liked the way that its bottom branches pointed down, its top branches pointed up and the ones in the middle were absolutely pointing neither up nor down.
I was considering the habits of walls on our walk last Saturday and this wall at the Byreburnfoot Bridge was another example of the curious behaviour of nature. The wall is more or less totally black until it gets to the bridge itself when it suddenly becomes covered with pale lichen.
It’s another mystery.
It didn’t rain and we got back to the car after three miles of gentle exercise. The weather looked very black as we drove back to Langholm but even there, it wasn’t raining. The Met Office says that the humidity today has been around 95% so I have no idea why it hasn’t rained. I am not complaining though.
It was too dark to get a satisfactory flying bird today so the best that I can do is to show one of our resident garden dunnocks standing in for the absent fliers.