Today’s guest picture comes from South African exile Tom. He wasn’t able to visit Langholm for the Common Riding this year so went for a walk at home yesterday instead. Like the early risers in Langholm, he enjoyed a fine sunrise.
After yesterday’s untypical heat, we were back to more normal summer temperatures today with a brief mid afternoon peak of 70°C.
After breakfast, the garden was full of the sound of swifts. They seem to be feeding young in the eaves of our house.
They came and went very ‘swiftly’ though, and were hard to pin down.
We didn’t just have one or two. Small flocks swooped repeatedly past the window, emitting their characteristic screeches and I did my best to catch them as they whizzed past.
A more sedate bunch of starlings sat on the power line at the other end of the garden.
And in between, dahlias smiled.
We had a very pleasant morning coffee meeting sheltered from the breeze and shaded from the sun in our neighbour Liz’s gazebo, which had been erected for a family gathering yesterday. And there was cake.
After coffee, we did some gardening. Mrs Tootlepedal was altering some of her compost bins and I turned the contents of my Bin C into Bin D and tucked the results up snugly.
After yesterday’s visit from brightly coloured butterflies, it was the turn of white butterflies to browse on the buddleia today.
More sweet pea flowers have appeared…
…and this gave my pocket camera a chance to show off. The sweet peas are protected from the sparrows by plastic netting. You can see some in the picture above behind the flowers. What you can’t see is the mesh in front of the flowers which I was shooting through. The camera correctly guessed that I wasn’t looking at the mesh and managed to erase any trace of it without me even asking. When I am trying to photograph wild flowers though, and the camera ignores the flowers and only focusses on the leaves, I am not so impressed with its intelligence.
I did a lot of poppy and calendula dead heading too. The various poppies have responded well to regular dead heading.
After lunch, we decided to go for a walk. The sun had gone in, but it was still a pleasant day. Mrs Tootlepedal suggested a walk to Boykenhope Head. We had done part of this walk last August without going as far as we had hoped, so we intended to go the full distance today.
We drove the few miles to the foot of the valley and parked the car before setting off on foot.
We saw plenty of colour beside the tracks as we went along and I have put a selection into a panel.
Mrs Tootlepedal gets the credit for spotting both the wild thyme and the orchid.
There was a mass of heather getting ready to come out and some fine moss and ferns too.
And there was a bridge.
Our plan was to get to the abandoned house at Calkin…
… and take the lower of the two tracks which you can see behind the cottage. This follows the Boyken Burn up to the head of the valley where there is another abandoned house. Then the plan was to continue on to the newer forestry road and come back by way of the upper of the two tracks in the picture. It was a very good plan.
Unfortunately, the plan couldn’t cope with the fact that there was a very large and formidable bull which we came upon standing just round the first corner in the middle of the lower track. It was giving us a hard stare. It might well have been the mildest natured bull in the world but we weren’t going to test that out. We took the upper track.
Luckily the bull couldn’t see us thanks to the lie of the land and we progressed in peace. Down below on the other side of the burn, the cows and calves were disturbed by us, and headed for higher ground.
The upper track involved quite a bit of climbing…
…as we had to go up to a height of 1150 feet through the woods.
But the rewards were some splendid views across a sea of trees to distant hills…
…and some intriguing views down the steep side of the valley to the track below which we should have been walking along.
It was very peaceful up in the hills and we felt that we were miles from anywhere, so we were a bit surprised to come round a corner and find that there was wind turbine just over the top of the ridge in front of us.
We hadn’t realised how close we were to the back of the Ewe Hill wind farm. As we walked on, we passed another couple of turbines but their gentle rotation and the soft murmuring of their working parts didn’t disturb our pleasure at all.
We had hoped to visit the old house at Boykenhope Head, but using the forestry track instead of the track straight up the burn left us with a considerable drop back down to the house from the top of the valley and we didn’t fancy using the straight track back in case the bull was still standing on it.
In the end, we felt that we had climbed enough and turned back without visiting Boykenhope Head and walked back the way that we had come. This was not dull because of course, we got different views on the way back as we were facing in the opposite direction, and we met interesting things on the way, like this caterpillar…
…which might be a peacock butterfly in the making.
Less welcome when we got back down the hill was the sight of the bull, now standing firmly in the centre of the upper track. We made a prudent diversion over a fence and into a field of sheep. It was a big bull.
We were pleased to get back to Calkin….
…and enjoyed some moments of fantasy as we thought about what it would be like to buy it, do it up and live the simple life there.
As we still had three gates to go through before we got back to the car, Mrs Tootlepedal felt that life might not be quite so simple after all.
A check on the computer when we got home showed that we had walked just over seven miles so we had had a good outing even if we hadn’t visited our intended target.
It was just as well that I had been watching the swifts in the morning as the traffic at the feeder was non existent whenever I looked at it today. The flying bird of the day is therefore a swift.