Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, who saw these Somerset lambs practising their gambolling skills with great verve.
We had a much improved day here today. There was no rain, plenty of sun, and a moderate wind. It was a day to get out and about and not sit indoors doing the crossword and drinking coffee. I did find time to fill the bird feeder and watch the birds for a moment or two after breakfast though.
A siskin watched me back.
Two goldfinches found something to check on while they munched…
…and generally there was quite a lot of action at the feeder.
Mrs Tootlepedal was able to go shopping today, so I left her to drive down to the Co-op while I set off on my bicycle to visit the valley of the Water of Milk and check to see how the new windfarm there is progressing.
Even though the wind was not nearly as strong as it has been, it was still a task to pedal into it so it was just as well that the weather stayed good and the views were there to taken my mind off the hard work. This was the little valley at Crawthat…
…a mile or so before the bridge at Paddockhole…
…where I crossed the Water of Milk and pedalled up the western side of the valley. Even though the road unkindly climbs up a steep hill before letting you look at the view, it is a favourite spot and you can perhaps see why…
…though a glimpse of snow sitting on the hills to the north showed that we are far from summer still.
It became apparent, even before I had got to it, that the windfarm had been completed and all the turbines are now in place.
Two of them were turning gently in an experimental sort of way.
I cycled on past the wind farm and out of the land of Milk and into the Esk Valley where I came to the junction of the Black and White Esks. I wanted to follow the White Esk on the right, so I crossed the Black Esk immediately above the meeting of the rivers by the fine single arch bridge….
…and pedalled along up the course of the White Esk on this very peaceful road…
…which brought me out at Eskdalemuir Church.
If you would like to buy a neat church, built in 1826, this one will shortly be for sale.
After stopping beside the church for a banana and a honey sandwich, I took the road to the left in the picture above and headed up the hill towards the headwaters of the Black Esk and then down to Lockerbie.
For ten miles, this road goes across the grain of the country, and there is what seems like an endless succession of ups and downs (they mostly feel like ups…
… but there must be downs too logically) before the road finally settles down and eases into Lockerbie, crossing this functional bridge at Sibbaldbie…
….put into to replace one that was fatally damaged by a lorry..
Once I got to Lockerbie, I was on familiar roads and didn’t stop to take many more pictures, partly because the views aren’t up to much and there were no spring flowers to show, and partly because stopping and starting was proving a bit hard on my knees.
I had to stop when I got to Kirkpatrick Fleming though because it is very rare to see the lake District hills anything like as clearly as I could today. Not only could I see Skiddaw, 25 miles away across the Solway…
…but I could look past it to the west and see the hills further south as well.
Before I got to Sibbaldbie, I had been in hilly country and cycling against the wind for almost all of the way. Once I had turned southwards at Sibbaldbie, I was getting some much needed help and the feeling was so good that I continued straight down the old main road until I got to Gretna. I was a bit worried that I might pay for this rush of blood when I turned to head for home at Gretna Green, but the wind was still kind, mostly across but mostly across and helping slightly, rather than across and hindering.
I heard a bit of a racket when I got near Englishtown, and looking up, I saw a lot of geese heading home after a day out.
The sun had gone behind clouds by this time and there was a distinct chill in the air after the warmth of the sun in the middle of the day so I pressed on. My legs put in a request for a final breather before the last hill and I was happy to oblige. I took the opportunity to photograph a hedgehog of moss on a bridge parapet…
…and a view of another bridge from the bridge.
I had just enough strength left when I got home, to wander round the garden admiring crocuses, primroses and frogs…
…but mostly crocuses.
Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy while I was out. As well as the shopping, she had done the washing and a little gardening too. In the garden, she had pruned a buddleia and then created a fake bush to help shield the bird feeder.
The old daisy stems which have provided a refuge for birds during the winter are going to come down so the fake bush is much needed.
I chose a cycle good route today with all the all the hard work over the hills and into the wind in the first twenty five miles. This took me two hours and twenty three minutes. By comparison, the forty miles after that only took me three hours. Because of the slow start, my average speed was poor but I wasn’t unhappy about that because 65 miles is a decent outing this early in the year…and if you turn it into to kilometres, it comes to 105km which sounds more impressive.
Mrs Tootlepedal rounded off her busy day by cooking toad in the hole for our evening meal. It went down well.
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch. Sharp eyed readers will notice an errant seed flying through the air. It is a mystery where these seeds come from.