A colourful hillside

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew. He met a rather alarming animal while on a walk through Derby.

The improvement in the weather continued and we got a day that was positively warm and pleasant, even though once again, it was a bit short in the sun department.

It was cloudy when I went out for my morning walk round the garden, and as I was taking things easily today on account of old age, I did no dead heading or weeding, just a bit of looking around.

There is more to see each day, thanks to the warmer conditions, and flowers that were coming out one at a time are mob handed now.

And ones that were a bit shy are open to the world.

Parents were taking their responsibilities seriously…

…pollinators were concentrating…

…and on the other bank of the dam behind the house, our neighbour Kenny’s plants are looking really healthy.

The main business of the morning was to have coffee and conversation with Fred, a young Social Anthropology student and creative producer, who is working with the Langholm Initiative on the community buy out.

He is going to make a film about the people involved in the buyout, the people of the town and development of the nature reserve on the moor. He was interested in talking to Mrs Tootlepedal about the historic background to the land ownership. He was so interested indeed that our conversation lasted for two hours, and it was lunchtime when he left.

I had time for another look round the garden before going in for my tomato sandwich. Mrs Tootlepedal took a geranium in last autumn to protect it from the frosts and it has done very well indoors over the winter. She has put it outside again, now that the frosts are past, to let it get used to real life again.

The young starlings in the holly tree were making very demanding noises all morning and they didn’t let up as I watched them.

A brief burst of sunshine picked out the pansies.

After lunch, I suggested to Mrs Tootlepedal that we might cycle the mile up to Bessie Bell’s to see how the bluebells on the hill were getting on. In good years after our woodland bluebells are just past their best, we then get a show of bluebells on the open hill, proving that there was once a wood there too in times past.

This is a good year.

Although the sun disobligingly went behind the clouds as we cycled up the road, the bluebells made the trip well worthwhile.

As we looked up the hill, we could see that we had been right to come.

They are best seen from a bit up the hill, so we climbed up. Mrs Tootlepedal sat and rested peacefully among the flowers while I went further up the hill.

There were so many possible views to take, that even though I took a lot of them, there was always the feeling that I had missed the best one. I will put just a few of the many pictures that I took without further comment.

Mrs Tootlepedal also enjoyed the view back across Wauchopedale towards Castle Hill.

Among the thousands of bluebells, a few tormentils could be found. For some reason, perhaps because they are so low to the ground, the sheep don’t graze these pretty little flowers off.

We cycled home, in a very contented state of mind. It was warm enough for children to be swimming in the river at Pool Corner.

I left Mrs Tootlepedal to watch the penultimate stage of the Giro and went off to some cycling of my own.

Since it was a Saturday and there would be little if any heavy traffic on the main road, I decided to head down to my favourite bench at Newtown on the Roman Wall. It was warm enough for me to wear a single top layer and shorts, so it felt very different from the cold, well wrapped up rides of the first weeks of this month.

The twenty miles to Newtown takes the form of a shallow V, with the first ten miles to Longtown being gently downhill and the next ten miles to Newtown being gently uphill. The road also has a change of direction at Longtown and this meant that today, I went downhill to Longtown into a light wind and then uphill to Newtown helped by the light wind. Naturally this pattern was repeated on the return journey so this was as good a day for the route as it could possibly be.

I only stopped on the way out when I got to the bench at Newtown. My bike always likes to have a short rest there.

On my way back, my legs demanded one or two little extra rests so I stopped on Longtown Bridge…

…and looked down…

…and up the river Esk.

Thanks to the benign conditions, I completed the 40 mile ride at 14.5 mph, which was quite a bit more quickly than my last effort in chilly February. It is a very easy ride and there is something most enjoyable every now and again just to put your head down and pedal without having to worry about taking pictures, narrow roads, big hills, or dangerous descents.

A young starling was still waiting to fed in the holly tree when I got back, and jumped for joy when its parent appeared.

If the sun comes out tomorrow, I might pop back up the road and see what the bluebells look like in better light.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin getting the traditional welcome at the feeder.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

44 thoughts on “A colourful hillside

  1. The flowers in the garden are beautiful and the bluebells were breathtaking. I’m glad you went and spent some time with them.
    The river looks quite low.
    I hope I’ll be able to see the film about the nature reserve here. They seem to show us a few U.K films along those lines.

  2. Your neighbour has quite an impressive stand of hostas near the dam. And I will echo the first comments about the bluebells – quite wonderful!

  3. That is a stunning hillside of bluebells from any view. The flowers, bees and birds are always enjoyable to see, and I second Laurie about the film.

    A cool air and warm sun day here in the upper 70s. I took care of quite a bit of weeding, and will be getting some planting done tomorrow.

  4. “A host of golden daffodils” – this swathe of bluebells would give the daffodils a run for their money and deserve a poem of their own. Thank you for sharing them.

  5. Is that a Guernsey Cream clematis? Love the bluebells. Is there a botanical name for them?

      1. Yours looks very good. We actually have a few next to the road round here – I suspect the line of trees they are in used to be must have been proper woodland at one time. They are quite tough if they can grow next to a well-used city road.

  6. Your garden is really coming alive with colourful flowers, birds and bees. Those bluebells are an amazing sight and the community buyout sounds like an exciting project, well worth being filmed.

  7. A film- now that is interesting maybe there’ll be some ride on parts just for you! Your garden is getting into the swing of bustin out all over in time for June- it all looks lovely. Wonderful photos of the bluebells on the hillside – a beautiful sight.

  8. Now that is what I call a bluebell patch. I thought I had a scene in this valley to match anything you have up there, but, sadly mine cannot compete. Getting to view said bluebell patch is quite awkward with a gammy knee, but I will try next time I am passing. By the way I would love to see a close up of your bike, magnifying with my ancient lap top isn’t up to scratch. Sorry to be a bike nerd. Exercising my knee seems to be going backwards at present, I am realising now, that it is very fortuitous that I am having this replacement so quickly, because it is on it’s last legs. (OH dear, sorry) Your post cheered me up, along with glorious sunshine in the Neath Valley. I can hear the cyclists shouting to each other as they ride up the Rhigos bank behind our house, maybe, when I get my new knee (and my swytchbike conversion) I will be able to ride all the way to the top! Cheers.

    1. Sorry about the last legs (and the joke) and I hope the new one is better. I will try to put a bike close up in to a post soon.

      I am sure that you will soon be swanning up hills like Egon Bernal.

      1. I hope so, the knee in question has got a lot worse all of a sudden. With all the concern wrt this new wave of Covid, I am desperate that my operation won’t be cancelled. Cheers.

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