A spring in our step

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who found this very unexpected thistle pie while out on a walk.  He may have had a hand in its creation.  The things that people do during lockdown.

(He says that the recipe for the pie can be found at http://www.thistlehurtyour hand.com.)

thistle cake

The weather changed this morning and the hills were misty when we got up.  Jackets were required for the morning coffee as the temperature had dropped to more normal April levels.  Luckily I had made a batch of ginger biscuits after breakfast so the gathering was not entirely without warmth.

Following the advice of our son Alistair and his wife Clare, I visited out local shop and asked the owner if he felt that I was old and frail enough to warrant getting deliveries rather than shopping in person.  “Undoubtedly,” he said, looking me straight in the eye.  He is an old friend and he is under pressure from his children too so he understood.  I was very grateful.

After coffee, we went into the garden.  There were still many daffodils to dead head, there was compost to sieve, and things to water so I was quite busy.

I checked on the fruit.  Apples, blackcurrants and gooseberries are all looking quite potential…

blackcurrant, apple, pear and gooseberry

…and the silver pear is looking lovely but sadly it does not produce eatable fruit.

In spite of the cool, cloudy weather, flowers still looked pretty as a picture…

trillium, daffoidl tulip, brunnera

…and there were riotous scenes all over the garden.

tulips, honesty, doronicum, cowslips

A trout lily is the flower of the day.

trout lily

In the pond, pond skaters were busy.  I like the way that they slightly dent the surface of the water.

pond sakets

I cooked some lentil soup for lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal made bacon butties to go with it so we were well fed when we set out on an afternoon walk together.

Our primary target was to see if the bluebells were fully out yet.  They were almost but not quite at their best and it was a treat to walk along among them.

bluebells april panel

It is difficult to stop taking pictures of bluebells because you always think that your next effort is going to be the best yet…

bluebells april 1

…and I had two cameras with me and used them both freely.  In the end, I think that once again, this path down the hill is my favourite.

bluebells april 2

I will be back again in a few days time to take the same pictures all over again!

We walked on down the hill and on to the Murtholm Track towards Skippers Bridge.

There was plenty to see besides bluebells including English plantains, uncurling ferns, brilliant dandelions and incipient geums.

fern dandelion geum english plantain

And having seen a lesser stitchwort…


…we saw these too.  They all look different.  There must be a greater stitchwort in there but is there a marsh stitchwort too?  I am sure knowledgeable and helpful readers will tell me.

three stitchworts

I can recognise a horsetail.  There were a lot at one spot beside the path.


Even without the sun, it was a lovely walk.


murtholm view

We came to Skippers Bridge and instead of crossing it, we walked along the same side of the river using the path in the woods between the river and the main road.

We had come to see a heronry which a friend had told Mrs Tootlepedal about. We hadn’t walked along the path for many years and never before in this direction, so it was a novelty to us.

The dry weather meant that it was in good condition for elderly walkers and we enjoyed a fine blackthorn bush…


…and when the sun unexpectedly came out, the walk through the trees was a real pleasure.

path between esk and A7

We saw several herons’ nests and one or two herons as well.

heronry beside A7

The bank of the river is rather steep at this point  but we found a place where we could scramble down onto the river bed.  There is so little water at the moment that we could get well out into the river and look back to get an unusual view of Skippers Bridge at a distance….

Esk very low water

…and, thanks to the zoom on the Lumix, from close up too.

skippers bridge from A7 side

I can’t tell you how life enhancing it was to be able to sit for a moment in such a beautiful spot.

Mrs T in middle of river esk

We were completely sheltered from any wind, and the light was gorgeous now that the sun had come out.  As we walked further down the river, it was hard not to stop every few yards…

esk from riverside path

…to watch ducks on a rocky promontory and some thick and luscious sedge.


Not to mention flotillas of ducklings….

ducklings esk bromholm

…and the fine metal bridge that crosses to Broomholm Island from the far bank.

broomholm island bridge

It was a peaceful scene.

esk at Broomholm

Everything was so fresh and green that it was hard to tear ourselves away from the river bank but in the end, we followed this path up to the main road…

path up to road from broomholm island

…and walked along the road back to Skippers Bridge.

I looked at one of my cameras at this point and saw that I had already taken 100 pictures with it since breakfast so I thought that it was now time to stop. We walked home back along the river bank to the park without pausing for more photo ops on the way.

In the end, we walked just under four miles but because of the many stops to admire our surroundings, it had taken us a long time and we were more than ready for a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit (or two) when we got home.

After the cold and cloudy start to the day, the warmth and the sunshine of the afternoon were even more welcome than they would have been if the recent good weather had continued unabated.  The morning made us realise just how lucky we have been with our weather.

We are promised 1°C for early tomorrow morning so the winter wear may have to be dug out again.

I didn’t have time to look for a flying bird of the day today and a curl of poplar leaves in the park, my final shot of the day, is standing in.

poplar leaves park

Sorry about all the pictures but what with bluebells and river scenes, it just couldn’t be helped.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

49 thoughts on “A spring in our step

  1. We took that walk a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed it. Love the close up of border esk through the arch of the Skippers.

  2. Couldn’t agree more with your note in the middle of the river. Finley and I have walked both up and downstream now for long stretches, truly amazing. I pray he appreciates these moments Tom

  3. What a remarkable thing, being able to sit on the riverbed and admire such surroundings. Your final shot of the day is very beautiful. All in all, it sounds as though you had a wonderful day.

  4. That was gorgeous lighting you had today, especially in that wooded walk with all the flowering trees! Flowers, flowering trees and flotillas of ducklings are wonderful things to look at. For a short time, current events fade into the background.

    How are the tadpoles faring during these drier days?

  5. The bluebells are here also, but I have yet to see a flotilla of ducklings. Only rarely been alongside the river these past few weeks, lost many opportunities, no doubt of seeing something special. There are ducks, moorhens and swans on the canal, but no ducklings as yet. A couple of swans have built their nests. Perhaps that turtle has scared them off. Great pictures as usual, and a much recommended walk I will try and get you a shot of some Neath Valley bluebells asap. Cheers.

  6. Just beautiful…and the silver lining is the lack of time pressure so you can take as long and as many pictures as you like. And hooray for corner shop deliveries!

  7. A stunning post with everything to enjoy. You can never take too many photos of bluebell woods, Skippers Bridge and the river…mind the added bonus of an incubation ( word in paper yesterday!) of ducklings never goes amiss! A walk to remember!

  8. No need to apologize for pictures. They are always welcome. The more the merrier. Thanks for your lovely blog each day. It’s a delightful interlude to pause and see what is happening in Scotland.

  9. As usual great photos! I’m often inspired by your garden photos, and what is grown. The helibores which I planted 2 years ago are growing taller and well, flowering beautifully and I thank you for showing me somethings I’d not seen before or could grow in a colder zone.

  10. I loved the bluebells and river scenes. I’m not sure how I missed them yesterday!
    That’s a great shot of the trout lily. I wish ours would show off like that.
    I’m glad you had such a beautiful day. The views (and ducklings) along the river were well worth all the photos.

  11. Those stitchworts are tricky fellows! I am pretty sure the one on the far right is a greater stitchwort and the one in the centre might be one as well, after pollination. The one on the left might well be a marsh stitchwort but I wouldn’t like to commit myself to it. Beautiful photos of a magical walk, Tom.

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