Compost and a castle

Today’s guest picture shows a curious calm on the sea when seen from East Wemyss today. Our son Tony took the shot.

It was fairly calm here today too, but not quite as calm as that. It hadn’t been frosty overnight so we got out into the garden before coffee and I sieved some compost for the first time this year. I found this an exciting event but Mrs Tootlepedal managed to retain her calm without much difficulty. She did use some of the sieved compost later on in the day.

We had coffee in the garden with Liz and Margaret, and afterwards I went on a tulip hunt. They had opened up quite well today.

(One of the tulips may be a daffodil The sixth tulip picture did not come out well.)

The magnolia has suffered from the many frosts….

…but all is not lost.

We are hoping that this year, the plum blossom will eventually provide us with plums.

Last year the plum blossom was magnificent, and then almost every potential plum got nipped in the bud by a severe late frost.

The bumble bee was back buzzing about among the pulmonaria…

…and the trout lilies were talking among themselves.

I didn’t have long to look at the birds today, but I did capture a moment of tension in the chaffinch community.

I made some soup for lunch with lentils, bacon, celery, some aged carrots and an onion, i.e. everything that I could lay my hands on. It came out well though and gave me enough pep to go out for a pedal.

It wasn’t sunny on the whole, but it was warmer again (17°C by the afternoon) so it was good to get out and not have to be wrapped up like a Christmas present. The wind was light which made it feel even better as I pedalled out of the town up the A7 as far as Fiddleton Toll.

Here I turned off and took the road across the hills to Liddesdale. This involves a steep climb up to Carewoodrigg so I was happy to stop for a photo of the bridge at the bottom of the hill…

…before puffing up the hill to the beginning of the ridge. It seems as though you have done all the work when you look ahead…

…but this is a snare and a delusion. It is one of those roads where the top of the hill is always just round the next corner, and when you look back from the far end of the ridge…

…you can see why your legs are complaining.

Still, you are rewarded with a good swish down the hill into the valley of the Hermitage Water…

…with an enjoyable run down to the junction of the Hermitage Water and the Liddel Water which gives Liddesdale its name.

There is a compulsory stop to admire Hermitage Castle.

The huge arch makes the castle look quite small, but a view from the road…

…gives a better idea of its scale when you look at the size of the front door in the wall. It is an impressively grim building, meant to make visitors feel small.

At the junction with the road to Newcastleton, I found a handily placed bench to give my bike a rest while I looked at the bridge over the Hermitage Water from both sides, and enjoyed a large clump of hairy bittercress with an added dandelion.

I stopped for another bridge over the Hermitage Water near Steele Road.

A sign advises traffic that this is a weak bridge and you can see that they have tried to strengthen it. I went across it very carefully.

While I was there, I took a picture of one of the slightly conical hills characteristic of this area.

Further down the road, I met some farm goats and a llama which had turned its back on me. A discreet cough brought its head round to see who I was.

The Waverley Line, the railway between Carlisle and Edinburgh, used to run up this valley and there are plans to re-open it. In the meantime, it is a footpath and I took pictures of the trackbed, a bridge which lets the Black Burn run under it, the Black Burn itself, and a bridge which carries a farm track over the railway.

It will be a great thing if the whole railway is re-opened because at the moment it stops halfway between Edinburgh and Carlisle, but we are not holding our breath. It will take many years for the plan to come to fruition, even if it is approved.

I stopped in the village of Newcastleton for a snack and then set off down the very undulating road to Canonbie. The undulations took all my concentration and I only stopped twice more before getting back to Langholm, once for blackthorns near Archerbeck…

…and once for the ‘mile of daffodils’ between Rowanburn and Canonbie.

When I got back to the town, I was cheerful enough to add a couple of miles to my trip to bring up a round 40 miles. I like a neat number.

I haven’t been able to do this particular ride lately as it takes me out of Dumfries and Galloway and into the Borders Region but restrictions have been eased so we can visit other regions now. Next week, I will be legally able to go for a pedal in England.

I had a quiet evening in when I got home.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch at full stretch.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

41 thoughts on “Compost and a castle

  1. Sounds like you had quite a full day,but well rewarded with some great photos..bridges architecture nature and landscapes,what more could you ask for😊

  2. Thr bridge to water ration seems larger than usual in some of the photos. That is an impressive castle, If I ever build one, I may build it with a very tiny door facing he road to confuse visitors.

      1. That is the genius of my plan, making mine look a lot bigger than it rally is. Yours seems to have it wrong way round, that big one making it a lot smaller than the second view suggests.

  3. There is enough variety of bridges to satisfy my enjoyment of them – all are good to see. I become so entranced with the views in your area that it is easy to forget about your restrictions – ours seem to go on forever, but at least we are ‘free’ to travel throughout the country at last.

  4. Your usual good range of photographs. The castle is particularly fascinating. Your never-ending path reminds me of the Bolton Marathon. The last six miles are a slow drag up Plodder Lane. When the finish is in sight you have a right angle turn into an albeit short step incline.

  5. A fine pedal indeed, and some great pictures as well. Your bike was the main attraction for me, today, though. Is that the Gates carbon belt drive on it? I believe you’ve spoken in the past about it, so what hub have you got on it? Yes, I know, I’m becoming a right bike nerd. I’d appreciate an up close detailed shot of all your bikes, if you don’t mind. Yes, I know proper bike nerd! You certainly travel over some lovely bridges, big and small. That first bridge looked as if it had been repointed recently. Cheers.

    1. It is a carbon belt and the gear hub is a Rohloff Speedhub which is expensive but lasts for ever (I hope) and you don’t need to buy a new cassette and chain every year.

      1. How many gears does your the Rohloff support? Is this the bike you ride the most? I’ve read alot about Rohloff speedhubs, they are used alot by long distance cycle tourists. Do you enjoy the hub more than derailleur gears?

      2. It has 14 gears but they are equally spaced so they are easily equivalent to 21 gears on a derailleur. They are also very quite in the top set which make a change from the buzz and clanking of the derailleurs. I wouldn’t change back.

      3. I’m hoping the knee doctor will put a Rohloff on this gammy knee of mine this afternoon. 14 gears will be far better than the one I have to walk about in at present lol. Cheers.

      4. I believe they have the technology but they can’t be bothered to rebuild me, lol. Knee doctor says I can start physio, hope to be back in work in two weeks. So feeling more positive. Cheer.

  6. Hopefully the days of frost are almost over, though we can see them into May here. I enjoyed the photos from the day, especially the llama and goat panel.

    How old is Hermitage Castle?

  7. Another lovely cycle out with lots of interesting things to see and enjoy. The castle builders certainly knew how to put off callers! The conical hill is unusual…to me…and being able to see that number of bridges, a llama, goats and a mile of daffs is always a pleasure to see in your posts.

  8. I am enthralled by castles! Hermitage looks like it is in sturdy condition!

    There are a growing number of goats and llamas here in rural Ohio as well. Lots of chickens, who donate daily free eggs.

    The flying Chaffinch photo is superb!

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