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.
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.
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…
…with the ‘wilder’ flowers looking to have come through best.
I will have something to photograph in the coming days.
Like this dicentra.
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.
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…
..before heading on up the very dry track to the summit.
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.
You can also look up Eskdale…
…and Wauchopedale too.
Castle Hill lies on the end of a ridge and my route today took me along the 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…
…and when I got to the highest point on the ridge, Potholm Hill at 310m…
…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.
You can also see that there is a lot of forestry on the hills in Eskdale compared with the Ewes Valley…
…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.
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…
…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…
…and some sensational bluebells and wild garlic in the more open areas.
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…
…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.