Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew. He had a moment to wander around in Borrowash this morning and was surprised to find a giraffe in the woods. You can see it too if you look carefully. It didn’t move a lot, he tells me.
Last night I had wondered whether we would wake to a winter wonderland or sodden slush and when the curtains opened this morning, the reality was somewhere between the two. There had been more snow overnight and the hills had a good covering but there was still plenty of green to be seen in the garden and the roads were slushy.
The sun was shining and I thought that I ought to visit the winter wonderland and ignore the slush, so I put my walking boots on and headed for the hills.
I carefully chose our smallest hill and stopped on the way to look back over the town. It was a good day to be out and about.
I got a short way up the Meikleholm Hill track and stopped to catch my breath and look around. Sunshine on snow, if it is not too deep, brings out details and I could see a fan shape near a pylon on the lower sloped of Whita across the the other side of the town.
A glimpse of some snowy hills encouraged me to climb a bit higher…
…but I met the owner of these footprints and he told me that it was very cold and windy on the top of the hill…
…and as it was clouding over and the forecast had suggested a good chance of more snow, I chickened out and walked back down off the hill and onto the Becks track. I settled for a walk across the Becks Burn and back home by the road. I hoped that I would get back before the snow started again.
My friend Ada had sent me message a day or two ago to say that primroses were out along the track so I kept my eyes open and saw one for myself. Shortly afterwards I passed a fine display of catkins.
I got down to the Auld Stane Brig and thought about heading home along the road.
But the clouds had moved away and the sun was out again, so I thought that I might have time to climb up the lower slopes of Warbla and come back down the track to the park to make my walk a little more interesting.
I wasn’t the only one to have used the track today…
…and this was no surprise as dog walkers get everywhere.
This short track was quite steep and even a little snow makes walking harder work and I was happy to stop and look back across the Wauchope from time to time.
The light on Calfield Rig was interesting.
And I could have stood for a long time looking at the snowy slopes…
…but it was chilly so I walked up the path a bit and then had another look in a different direction. The light and shade there were interesting too.
I got to the point where my path met the main track from the top of Warbla and turned to go down to the town. Then I turned back and looked up the track to the summit.
It was irresistible so I telephoned Mrs Tootlepedal to tell her of my whereabouts and then set off up the hill.
It was quite hard to make quick progress as I had to keep stopping to look around, both to enjoy the wider view as sunshine and clouds alternated in a brisk wind…
…and to use the zoom on the Lumix to focus in on small details that caught the eye on distant hills. There was some deep snow on Bauchle Hill further up the Esk valley.
I pressed on though, using the helpful footprints in the snow left by a pair of dog walkers who had gone up the track before me. Without the help of the dog walkers, I don’t think that I could have continued as the wind had blown quite a bit of snow onto the track and it was well over six inches deep at times. I would have skipped through that as a boy but it was a more serious consideration now.
Still, I got high enough to look back down over the town….
…and as I got to the flatter part of the track near the summit, the snow got thinner because much of it had been blown away by the strong winds and I was able to stride out with youthful exuberance (almost).
The views from the top were well worth any effort I had had to expend in getting up the hill.
Thanks to the rapid passing of the clouds, the light was different every time I looked and it would have been very tempting to spend quite a bit of time on the top of the hill taking pictures…
…but as you can see from the snow glued to the trig point, the wind was brisk and the windchill factor was enough to make standing around for too long unattractive…
…quite apart from the possibility of being literally blown over while taking pictures of Whita.
So I took one last picture….
…looked at some looming clouds coming up behind me, and scuttled back down the hill as fast as my legs (and two stout walking poles) would carry me.
As it turned out, there was no need for a rush as the snow didn’t start again until well into the afternoon. But I had had the best of the day’s sunshine while I was out on the hill so I was happy.
I was also happy to sit down for some lunch after a strenuous four and a half mile outing.
I had a quick look at the birds in a sunny moment after lunch.
The pigeon was back…
…and when the snow started again, the siskins were queuing up to kick…
…and shout at each other.
I settled down to the computer and put in some useful time entering more of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database and learning songs for a choir competition when we will have to do without books.
Mrs Tootlepedal found a dry spell to cycle about the town, combining some business with some shopping and when she go back, she made an excellent chicken stew for our tea.
We should be going to Edinburgh tomorrow to see Matilda but with more snow forecast, I think it most likely that we will stay at home.
The flying birds of the day are that flock of siskins which was back again. They love to perch on the walnut tree, leap into the air, swirl about a bit and then settle back in the tree. Perhaps, like me, they get a bit cold if they have to stand around too long.