Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset corespondent, Venetia. She visited the wonderfully named ‘The Newt’ estate where she came across this excellent sinuous bridge.
Although we are not completely free from the threat of wet and windy weather yet, we awoke to a grey but dry day today. The wind was still too brisk to make cycling fun though.
After breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal had some business to attend to and I went to our shop for supplies. We had a cup of coffee when we had both returned and then we went for a walk.
Mrs Tootlepedal likes a bit of novelty in a walk if she can get it, so we drove three miles out of town and embarked on a walk up the track alongside the Esk from the Burnfoot Bridge to the Bentpath bridge and back again.
It was a well chosen route as it was sheltered from the brisk and chilly wind for the most part.
Although we were not far from Langholm, it was noticeable that the walls were built in a different style to the ones round us, using smaller stones probably collected from the river.
The end of one of the walls gave a neat demonstration of their sloping construction.
We didn’t see much of the river itself as there are trees along the bank all the way, but we did get some very pleasant views of the rolling country on the other side of the track.
As we walked on, the rough track became a smooth road and we entered the grounds of the Westerhall estate, which has impressive stone gateposts at each end.
A little sunshine at this point made the walk even more enjoyable.
Westerhall has some lovely woods and interesting buildings among them.
The grounds are well looked after and a broad grass avenue leads up the hill away from the house. The sharp eyed will be able to spot another little building in the distance at the top of the hill.
In fact several grassy paths lead through the woodland with some rather grand steps on the way.
We stuck to the road though…
…and walked on until we got to the church and churchyard at the village of Bentpath.
Among the graves, some bearing the names of many different members of the same family, there is a mausoleum designed by Robert Adams which was built for John Johnstone. The mausoleum is a fine example of the use of the Greek Doric Order in a building. It actually contains the remains of John’s father, Sir James Johnstone of Westerhall (1726-94). The mausoleum is built in ashlar, with a prominent lead covered dome. The front features two pairs of columns supporting a pediment and frieze decorated with ox-skulls.
You can still see the ox skull decorations and one of the gravestones beside the mausoleum has a spectacular show of moss and algae.
On our way through the estate, we had seen a good looking example of an orange witch hazel….
…and when we got to the bridge at Bentpath, there was an even finer yellow variety.
It was just behind a very nicely situated bench…
…where we had a sit down and a snack as it was one o’clock and lunchtime. I had bought some dates with me but Mrs Tootlepedal had gone for a banana. To make things perfect, we only needed a glass of wine and a loaf of bread but we hadn’t brought those.
We didn’t stop for long and were soon on our way back to the car.
We stopped to admire the very unusual semicircular bridge over the Kirk Burn…
…and the Kirk Burn itself which was splashing down towards the Esk in fine style.
The grounds of Westerhall have a lot of good looking rhododendrons and azaleas and we intend to come back when they are out in the spring. In the meantime, a big patch of dogwood was giving a little winter colour.
I had taken nearly fifty pictures on the outward leg so we didn’t stop for many on the way back. We did stop to look at buzzards circling too high in the sky to be within camera range. Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a hen harrier hunting over the hill as we drove towards Burnfoot on our way to the walk and she thought that she might have spotted it again as we walked, but it flew out of range before she could get her binoculars on it so it may just have been another buzzard.
The sight of Burnfoot House tucked in below Douglen Hill…
…signalled that we were nearly at the end of our walk.
We had covered just under four and half miles and thanks to taking many photos and watching many buzzards, we had spent almost exactly two very rewarding hours in going the distance.
By the time that we had had a bowl of soup and a cracker with cheese when we got home to add to our very light lunch at Bentpath, the light was beginning to fail. Mrs Tootlepedal did go out into the garden with a view to doing something useful but it was too gloomy and too chilly and too windy so she came back in.
Perhaps because of the stiff breeze, gusting up to 40 mph according to the Met Office, there were no birds on the feeder at all today when I looked. The only bird that I did see was this dunnock in the mirk of the late afternoon, and so it is the non flying bird of the day.