Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony’s partner Marianne. She had a striking view from her place of work today.
We had another good day here, but neither quite as sunny nor quite as warm as yesterday. This didn’t matter much to Mrs Tootlepedal who had a great raft of administrative tasks to get through and mainly spent the day indoors. The task were resolved with efficiency and at one moment while she was doing her Embroiderers’ Group’s accounts, I heard say perhaps the most unexpected thing that she has ever said to me; “Accountancy is beautiful!” I took it correctly that she had balanced the books.
I waited for the day to warm up a little and after coffee and a quick check on the bird feeder…
I set out on my bike. I had got as far as 100 yards away from the house, when I remembered that I had forgotten to put a loaf in the breadmaker. I circled round and went back inside and made the loaf.
This turned out to be the best decision of the day, as I changed my mind about where I should go and instead of having yet another excursion to the south and west, I headed up the main road to Hawick instead. When I got to Hawick, a traffic jam in the middle of town, persuaded me to take a small diversion and cross a bridge over the Slitrig Burn that was new to me.
I looked downstream towards the town from the bridge…
…and found a convenient bench on the far side of the bridge where I could sit and have a snack after my first 23 miles of pedalling. The ground beside the bench was covered with fallen little red apples and when I looked up, I saw that I was sitting under an apple tree.
I didn’t try one as I suspected from the fact that they were lying there unharvested that they might well be crab apples. Interestingly, there was not a single wasp or other insect feeding upon them either.
Instead of going back to Langholm by the main road, I consulted my legs and finding them in full agreement, I cycled off up the Slitrig Burn and took the road over the hill and down to Newcastleton, adding ten miles to the return journey.
I passed pigs in the fields in the valley. Well, I didn’t pass them because who could resist the call to stop and record the piglets? Not me.
After a mile or two along the flat valley floor, the road soon starts climbing and I was happy to stop for a breather and a look behind over the rolling border countryside. As you can see, the sky was pretty cloudless by this time…
…but luckily for me, it was still not a hot day, the northeasterly wind keeping things merely warm and perfect for cycling.
Having climbed very steeply out of the valley, I immediately lost height again as the road dropped down towards the Shankend Viaduct over the same burn that I had left before the climb.
I sometimes think the the road makers did this sort of think just to annoy cyclists (but it was probably just to keep landowners happy).
From the bottom of the viaduct at 700 ft, there is a three mile drag up to 1212 ft with gradients occasionally hitting 7% so once again, I was not unhappy to stop and look back while I was on my way up.
It was good to see deciduous woodland regenerating among the commercial conifers.
This was probably only a 30 second stop but it is amazing what a lot of pressure such a short stop takes off the legs and breathing.
On the other side of the summit, a group of enthusiasts have been painstakingly restoring a short stretch of the old railway line and they have got an eclectic collection of rolling stock there.
There are plans to reopen the old railway from Hawick to Carlisle so maybe in the future this will stop being a preservation site and become part of a real railway line again.
From Whitrope to Newcastleton, the road goes steadily downhill and this was very welcome after eleven miles of mostly uphill work. It crosses the Hermitage water by one of my favourite bridges.
The view from the bridge shows the shallow valley that I had been cycling down for a mile or so before the bridge.
I stopped in Newcastleton for a final refuel before the last ten miles back to Langholm. I liked this little bench round a tree…
…only slightly spoiled by the electricity boxes need for the Christmas lights that are strung through the branches above.
I needed the fuel (half a banana, some apple slices, a date and a quava jelly cube), because the road back to Langholm over the moor is hard work, starting with a climb of 400 feet in the first mile with gradients touching 9% at one point. Luckily my bicycle has a sufficiently low gear to let me get up this while sitting in the saddle as long as I don’t rush. Believe me, I don’t rush.
The climb continues at a much more forgiving gradient for another four miles before it reaches the county boundary at 1100 feet. Once again, a look back was welcome.
Did I mention that it was a lovely day?
I ventured into the modern world and took a selfie at the summit.
However welcoming they were, I was leaving the Scottish Borders region. I like the way that my outstretched arms are reflected in my cycling specs.
Unfortunately, it is not a straight run back down to Langholm from the top as the Tarras Water has to be crossed, meaning another drop and climb before the final swoop down from the White Yett into the town. Luckily, my legs were still in a compliant mood and I enjoyed the whole ride from start to finish.
Looking at the map, you might think the the first half is more hilly than the return journey, but the elevation profile tells the true story.
Those interested can click on the pic for more details and a look at the terrain.
When I got home I was just in time to watch the end of the day’s stage in the Tour de France, have a quick wander round the garden….
(If I am going to dead head the sunflowers, I will need a step ladder.)
…and check on the birds,
The siskins were quite quiet at first…
…but soon the usual shenanigans broke out.
I left them to it and went for a shower. Then had we had a zoom meeting with my siblings.
A second helping of the slow cooked lamb stew rounded a very good day off.
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.