Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie, and shows dawn over Stockwell in South London today. Annie tells me that the Stockwell shepherds were cowering at this unexpected sight.
It was freezing when we got up today after a clear night, but a change in the weather meant that the thermometer rose steadily from 28°F (-2°C) before dawn to 49°F (+9°C) by the time that I came to write this post in the evening.
It felt perishing when Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off on our bikes for some varied shopping after breakfast, and we were happy to get back inside and enjoy a cup of coffee with our neighbour Margaret. By the time that she left, it had started to rain, and this persisted for the rest of the visible day. It may well have stopped by now, but I don’t feel tempted to go outside and check.
Mrs Tootlepedal had purchased an individual steak, mushroom and peppercorn pie for my lunch. It turned out to be so liberally peppercorned that I had to go out for a walk to cool down after I had eaten it, even though the conditions were quite uninviting.
I decided to do the five miles ’round Potholm’ for the first time since the visit of Storm Arwen.
The road to Bentpath is till closed according to the road signs, but this didn’t prevent a number of cars passing me in both directions.
The problem is not so much fallen trees across the road, as these have been cleared, but trailing phone and fibre cables, and the dangerous state of some of the bankings.
There are new poles waiting to be erected . . .
. . . but there are a lot of poles down all over the place, so it may be some time before the wires are lifted off the road.
It may take even longer to get all the Langholm Walks back functioning.
You can see a direction marker nearly hidden under the chaos here.
Wall menders will be in demand as well as foresters . . .
. . . though I was glad to see this pheasant carefully popping down behind a solid bit of wall as I could hear the sound of pheasant shooting nearby.
I left the Bentpath road and walked down the side road towards Potholm, grateful that I had a stout umbrella to shelter me from the rain.
It was not a day for views, unless you were particularly partial to low cloud, mist and rain.
And I mean very low cloud.
The mystery of why some exposed trees withstood the attentions of Arwen continues.
I expect that it is down to roots.
Once I had crossed the river, I found more evidence of the hard work that has gone into clearing roads and tracks after the storm.
A reader recently asked what was happening to all the timber that is being cut. At the top of the hill, I found one answer. A lot is just lying waiting to be collected.
A rough count of tree rings showed that one of these trees was about forty years old.
As I walked back along the Langfauld track, I could see more damage from the storm with trees felled in a neat row.
Very fortunately, although a lot more trees close to the track had been blown down, the wind had managed to blow them uphill and away from the track.
It was a bleak scene.
I saw that one tree had been growing on top of a substantial rock . . .
. . . and at times the roots of the casualties towered over me.
Not every tree along the track had been affected and once again I wished that I had an answer to the question of the question of why some survived when nearby trees were flattened.
I found more road clearing work had been done when I got to Holmhead . . .
. . . so I was able to drop down and take the low road to the Lodge and the Lodge Walks.
It had got very gloomy by this time, and I kept my camera in my pocket, until I was tempted by a gull in the river when I was nearly home.
Thanks to waterproof trousers and a good umbrella, I was fairly dry when I got home where a cup of tea and a slice of toast rounded off a surprisingly enjoyable walk. Mrs Tootlepedal had gone for a three bridges walk of her own while I was out, so we both felt that we had done well to laugh in the face of the weather gods’ efforts to keep us indoors.
We weren’t tempted to go out again though, and settled down to a winter evening in.
There were no birds at the feeder at all today, so the non flying bird of the day is a dipper seen right at the end of my walk.
Footnote: For those readers from overseas who might be wondering why shepherds in Stockwell (there are none by the way) should be cowering, there is an old saying here that red sky in the morning is a shepherds’ warning. This is because with the prevailing south westerly winds, such a dawn may well lead to rain.