Testing the road

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew. He knows that I like a bridge so he sent me two for the price of one today.

The forecast had suggested that it might be the first day for ages with only light winds, so I was definitely hoping to wake up with no side effects from yesterday’s second vaccination. When the time came, I opened my eyes and found that all was good; the winds were light and I had no side effects. Bicycling was in prospect.

While she was looking out of an upstairs window after breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal noticed a thrush on the lawn. Unfortunately, it had gone to the far end of the lawn before I arrived with my camera.

In the end, it took me some time to get organised and get going. The morning was rather cold and I didn’t want to be too cold when I started or too hot in the middle of the day. Of course you can take clothes off as the temperature rises but then you have to carry them around for the rest of the ride. I waited until Mrs Tootlepedal and our neighbour Margaret had settled down for coffee in the garden (with blankets) before I finally pedalled off with just enough clothing to keep me warm but not too much to cook me later on.

It’s terrible being old. In former times, I would have put up with being cold at the start and warmed up as the sun rose in the sky.

As I left the garden, I saw two ducks swimming in the dam behind the house.

Are they making a nest on the stepping stone across the water in the background? Time will tell.

It was a lovely day for a pedal with not enough wind to turn the turbines on the windfarms. Even though what wind there was was against me, it was no problem to ignore it.

My plan was to try out the newly repaired road to Waterbeck. I had ridden over the first resurfaced section last week and was looking forward to a smooth ride the rest of the way today. I was disappointed though, because after that good start, the rest of the road had only been patched and not resurfaced. Experience leads me to believe that patched roads soon degenerate as water gets into the edges of the patches and frost works its mischief. In the meantime though, it was a treat to cycle along a pothole free road for a few miles.

I stopped after ten miles for a snack and a drink and found that the authorities had sent out a low flying plane to check on my whereabouts.

It was very large and really low. The local rooks were most upset.

I had meant to go straight on when I left the village of Eaglesfield and head west for Annan but from sheer force of habit, I found that I had turned left and was heading south. Gathering my thoughts together, I went through Kirtlebridge and under the railway viaduct that crosses the road and the Kirtle Water at the same time.

Once back on the Annan road, I decided to turn off..

…down a road with a fine beech hedge to visit Brydekirk to add another bridge to my journey.

I had crossed the Kirtle Water three times already, but this was the first time that I had crossed the Annan Water.

There is a popular walk from Annan to Brydekirk up one side of the river and back down the other and I did the cycling equivalent of the return journey on the road and soon found myself crossing the Annan Water by the bridge in the town of Annan.

The recent rainy spell had left a fine pond on the upstream side of the bridge…

…which was popular with gulls today, both for resting..

…and swimming.

I cycled through the town and headed along the coast road towards Gretna. Just before I got to Gretna itself, I stopped at my fourth bridge over the Kirtle Water to have a snack. The bridge is undistinguished but just beside it, I saw not only a native ladybird but several fine lichens (I can count four).

There is a well made conduit bringing a field drain into the stream just above the bridge. It would be made from a big plastic pipe these days.

From Gretna, I took the road to Corries Mill and admired the large quantities of celandines along the verges.

All along my ride, I passed carpets of these bright flowers and if I had stopped to take pictures of them all, I would never have got home.

As it was, I had to try a bit harder to get home than I would have wished. The wind changed direction entirely during my ride and I found myself pushing against an ever strengthening north wind as I made my way back to Langholm.

I stopped for a final breather as I passed Hawkshole Farm on my way down to join the main road at Canonbie. I was at the very edge of our hilly country here, and looking down towards the plains round Carlisle.

I got home after 50 enjoyable miles, ready for a cup of tea and a slice of fruity malt loaf.

I hadn’t watched the birds at all in the morning before cycling so I filled the feeder and had a look at them while the kettle was boiling.

It was a time for chaffinches…

…and siskins.

Top poser of the day was a chaffinch.

Although the north wind was blowing, it was a pleasant afternoon and Mrs Tootlepedal and I sat on the new bench outside the kitchen window to enjoy the sunshine while we drank our tea.

Then we had a stroll round the garden. The crocuses are nearly over but new flowers are arriving every day.

I have been trying to take a satisfactory picture of tiny viburnum flowers for some weeks with not much success. I failed again today. But it was a better effort.

The day proceeded with a sibling Zoom and I made myself fried haggis and chips for my evening meal. Mrs Tootlepedal had something a bit more refined.

The weather is due to stay fine but to get decidedly cooler over the next few days with some frosty nights to come. I hope that the garden can take it.

The flying bird of the day is a female siskin.


Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

30 thoughts on “Testing the road

  1. 50 miles of great cycling, bridges galore and a scene that I recognise from years ago. It is of a bridge as well, that viaduct railway bridge. I remember travelling under it on many car trips from here in Glynneath en route to Stranrear ferry and on to Belfast and back again (431 miles there and again back). The last time was eleven years ago, with my three sons. It’s really great to have that little connection with your borders. Fried haggis and chips sounds great to me. Cheers.

    1. The meal tasted good and that was the main thing. I am pretty sure that you wouldn’t have driven under that particular viaduct on your journey to Stranraer as it is on a very minor back road.

      1. That’s disappointing, so it’s not on the main route from say Gretna towards Stranrear? The one I remember had sharp bend under and out if Recall correctly. Cheers.

      2. I’ll have look at my old route on Google maps, and do some sleuthing as well. Cheers.

      3. Hi tootlepedal, Just had good look at Google maps. I know when I travelled, I drove from Carlisle to Stranraer, I went via the A75 all the way. I can’t see a rail line near that route, so perhaps the one I saw was disused. But I can picture it now, a viaduct with the road doing a sharp s-bend under it. I have to admit Langholm is further west than I imagined. Cheers.

      4. The line from Dumfries to Stranraer has been closed for some time. I have only driven the whole route a few times and can’t remember a viaduct. I will have to check with people who know.

  2. Those hedges are amazing but it must take forever to trim them. I wonder if the landowner has to do it or does the town do it?
    It was nice to see all the flowers. I’ve never seen that particular celandine here.
    I’m glad to hear that the second shot was a breeze. My turn will be here before long.

  3. Glad you’ve had no reaction to your second jab..I’m due mine on May 5th,exactly 12 weeks from my first one.
    Peoples reactions to the vaccines seems quite random and unpredictable,many like us had no problems,but I know quite a few folks,mainly in the fifties age groups,who’ve had two or three days of aches and pains and a few who had a day confined to bed, even the experts have no explanation for this.. Maybe our older immune systems work differently.
    Anyway your second jab seems to have given you wings..another 50 miles today excellent effort.
    I had planned on a ride today,but my better half ,who is ,to be fair ,on holiday had other plans and a 5 mile walk became the order of the day.which I enjoyed all the same.p

    1. A five mile walk on a nice day is not to be sniffed at, especially in good company.

      We had our second shot after about nine weeks which was a pleasant surprise.

      1. That’s great to hear!

        And it was nice to see a glorious bank of celandines where I didn’t have to do anything about them but appreciate how pretty they are. 🙂

  4. I enjoyed all the photos, especially that regal-looking chaffinch and female siskin FBOTD. Those are particularly nice bird photos. The first ladybug of the season with lichens was an eye-catcher, too.

    The fruity malt loaf and tea after a 50 mile ride sounds very good.

    A warm and sunny day here, though I was unfortunately was away for most of it. The thermometer on the porch read mid 70s when I got back home.

  5. The jab must have given you extra energy and improved your joints to complete such a lovely 50 mile cycle. Your brother would have approved of all the interesting bridges you passed on your pedal out. The celandines seem to be having a splendid year everywhere and your photo really captures their pretty shiny leaves and petals. Loved seeing the ladybird, the chaffinch portrait and the FBOTD.

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