Up hill and down dale

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  Owing to an easing in the lockdown in England, she was able to visit the Fragrance Garden at The Newt, and very pleased she was to be there.

fragrance garden

A quick examination of our garden this morning showed that the frost attack hadn’t been just been a bad dream, the azaleas and most of the rhododendrons were truly dead.

four dead flowers after may frost

And what was nearly as bad from my point of view was the discovery that all the potential plums had turned black (top right picture in the panel above). As a devoted plum eater, this was very sad news.  One of the espalier apples looks doomed as well and we can only wait to see what happens with the other two.

Wherever Mrs Tootlepedal looked, she seemed to be able to find signs of more damage on other flowers and shrubs but I wouldn’t want to say that there are no flowers left in the garden…

yellow and white survivors may frost

…with the ‘wilder’ flowers looking to have come through best.

six may flowers after frost

I will have something to photograph in the coming days.

six may colourful flowers after frost

Like this dicentra.

dicentra survivor

We did a lot of wandering around feeling unhappy but our usual socially distanced street coffee morning cheered us up.  Afterwards, Mrs Tootlepedal settled down to removing and shaping box hedge plants for most of the rest of the day.

I lent a hand now and then, and in between times mowed the front lawn.  Both lawns badly need some steady rain and some consistent warmth and they are not looking good at the moment.  However, my target date for having the lawns looking good is mid June and I haven’t given up hope yet.

It was rather grey with a chilly wind so I was happy that it was a walking rather than a cycling day, and after lunch I picked up my walking  poles, put on my walking shoes, and went for a walk.

As I walked along the Ewes Water, I saw wild flowers on the far bank and a wagtail on a rock (with a reflection below) and as I walked up the hill past the Estate Offices, I saw two black lambs.

wildflowers, wagtail, lambs

Our neighbour Liz had told me that the cattle had been taken off Castle Hill for a while, so this seemed like a good opportunity to walk up my least visited of the hills around the town.

There is a steep start to the track up the hill and I was happy to pause for a moment among the hawthorn trees to look across the valley at Whita Hill…

whita from castle hill track

..before heading on up the very dry track to the summit.

track and tree castle hill

I say summit, but that is perhaps allowing Castle Hill a little more majesty than it really has at a modest 270 metres (885ft) above sea level.

But you do get a good view from the top.

This is perhaps the best of view of Langholm from any of our four hills as you can see the whole town.

langholm from castle hill

You can also look up Eskdale…

esk valley from castle hill

…and Wauchopedale too.

wauchope valley from castle hill

Castle Hill lies on the end of a ridge and my route today  took me along the ridge.

potholm hill ridge

One of the joys of walking round Langholm is the good supply of easily attained ridges that offer fine walking with splendid view on every side.

As I went along, I could look down into the Ewes Valley on one side…

looking up ewes

…and when I got to the highest point on the ridge, Potholm Hill at 310m…

cairn potholm hill

…I got a fine view of the Esk valley on the other side.

You can see our local racing stable’s all weather training track in the foreground.

look over craig up esk

You can also see that there is a lot of forestry on the hills in Eskdale compared with the Ewes Valley…

looking up ewes from potholm hill

…but as I have remarked before, there will soon be a lot more trees up Ewes as sheep farms have been sold for tree planting.

I came down  the ridge to the little col between Potholm and Wrae Hills and turned down to meet the track back to Langholm, passing these three trees as I went.

three trees wrae hass

This section of the walk is usually very boggy but it has been so dry that I could have done the whole walk in carpet slippers without getting my feet wet.

I was soon back among green fields…


…and headed back past Potholm Farm towards Langholm.

Instead of sticking to the main track, I branched off into the woods above the track, following a minor track used by the pheasant keepers.  It was my intention to see if I could join up with the track that Mrs Tootlepedal and I had enjoyed last week when we walked into these woods from the far end.

The woods were dark after the airiness of being on top of the hill, and I began to wonder if I would find my way…

walk through woods above longfauld

…but fortunately I met a friend coming in the opposite direction, and she gave me some sound advice which I followed and I soon came to the track that I was looking for.

Unlike the hill, where the sheep had eaten everything except the occasional tormentil, there were plenty of wild flowers in the woods…

wild flowers longfauld woods

…and some sensational bluebells and wild garlic in the more open areas.

bluebells and garlic

This very lovely crop of speedwell deserved a solo picture in my view.


I finished my walk by crossing a mass of dandelion clocks on the football pitch on the Castleholm…

dandelions castleholm

…and they told me that it was time for tea and a Garibaldi biscuit so I didn’t take any more pictures.

When I checked, I found that I had walked just under six miles and once again, I had had a wonderful variety of terrain and views on my short walk.  This is Walk 4 of the Langholm Walks (I had done it in the ‘wrong’ direction) and I can heartily recommend it to anyone who hasn’t tried it, especially just now when the going is dry underfoot and there are no cattle on the hill.

I had time for my tea and biscuit before my regular sibling Zoom meeting and then I sat down to a welcome meal of roast chicken prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal, washed down by a small glass of cider, part of the gift from our son Alistair and his wife Clare.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, sneaking past the drops of water coming from the sprinkler that Mrs Tootlepedal was using to try to get a little moisture into our dry soil.

flying sparrow hose drops

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

36 thoughts on “Up hill and down dale

  1. Your Castle Hill is almost twice as high as our Glastonbury Tor, which is only 158 metres above sea level. But I suspect the latter starts from much lower, if you see what I mean. That is, about 5 metres above sea level.

      1. I was very sad for you when I read that.

        I think dry weather makes frost much more damaging. 😦

        Beautiful long walk today though with all those lovely wildflowers.

  2. Those are sad photos of the frost damage but it does happen. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened here this spring.
    Beautiful views in any direction, as always. I’d love to walk among those bluebells.
    I’m glad you still have plenty of wildflowers to see. My favorite is the shot of the speedwell blossoms. That’s not an easy one to get, I’m sure.

    1. The annoying thing is that we had survived several near zero or sub zero mornings and we were just thinking that the worst would be soon over when this sudden severe frost hit us.

  3. Wonderful views, I liked your picture looking back at Langholm. Bluebells look so lovely, I have missed seeing ours down here this year.

      1. Not really ,and I have some in the garden, but to see drifts of them we would have to drive out and that has been banned until now.

  4. Another splendid walks with beautiful views to banish the thoughts of all that sad frost damage at home. Lovely to see the beautiful garlic and bluebells after that cold photo of the woods- half expecting to see the Gruffalo peeping out!

  5. Evil work of the “frosty saints” who came in on spot with Mamertus (11.), Pancratius (12.), Servatius (13.) Bonifatius (14.) and Sophia (15.). A lot of folklore is woven around these days in May. But that should be over now and I would dearly like to see lots of rain as the land is parched and there is fear about crops.

  6. I am sorry to hear about the frost in your area. We can sometimes get a frost or two through the end of May here. Losing fruit to frost is maddening. Our pear tree tends to bloom on the early side, and often gets hit. We have been lucky this year, so far.

    I enjoy those views from your hills, looking out over the countryside. Those long stone walls are impressive, and remind me of my native New England.

  7. Your disparaging of Castle Hill amuses me as I live among the Watchung “Mountains” in New Jersey, one of which is 130 meters/420 feet and the taller a whopping 180 m / 590 ft.

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