Today’s composite guest picture comes from my Welsh correspondent, Keiron. He is waiting to get his bike fixed, so in the meantime he went out on a walk to look for trees. He found these two.
We were promised a fine day here, and when I looked out of the bedroom window, I saw a fine day. Full of enthusiasm, I got up straight into my cycling clothes. Over my porridge, I looked at the weather website and got slightly discouraged. There was plenty of sunshine on offer, but it came with what the BBC described as a brisk north westerly wind. They said it would be 16 mph. The Met office suggested gusts of well over 20 mph.
I considered my options, which included staying in and sulking. I didn’t want to find myself battling home into that brisk breeze, so I discarded any idea of floating round the flat lands of the Solway shores for 50 miles, and made the choice to go north for 20 miles and hope to be blown home. The northern route is much more hilly, and it took me a while to face up to the task. I did finally get going. I was armed with a home made honey sandwich, and three bananas and a chocolate bar purchased from the corner shop as I set off.
It was a lovely day as I passed the Gates of Eden . . .
. . . and pedalled though Bentpath up to the Enzieholm Bridge.
I was just peering at some fine algae on the bridge . . .
. . .when a passing postman in his van, wound down his window and gave me a cheery greeting. He is a cyclist himself so he may have wondered what I was up to when he saw my bike leaning against a fence post.
The road divides at Enzieholm bridge, and I took the fork that leads up the west side of the river. I passed the meeting of the Black and White Esks . . .
. . .and crossed the bridge over the Black Esk . . .
. . . and took the very quiet back road up to Eskdalemuir.
There was little damage from Storm Arwen to be seen until I came to Bessie’s Hill, where a plantation had suffered badly.
On a sunny day like today, the upper Esk valley is a scene of pastoral peace . . .
. . . and the Tibetan monastery of Samye Ling positively shines.
I looked more closely at the detailing on the stupa.
I had set my expectations for the speed of the ride extremely low, and accordingly, I did not push very hard into the wind. I found myself averaging just under 10 mph as I climbed steadily up the valley. At that pace I was able to enjoy the views (and dodge the timber waggons) as I went up the open road to the county boundary.
All the same, I was pleased to stop at the border of the Scottish Borders Region . . .
. . . and have my honey sandwich and my second banana. It was quite chilly in spite of the sunshine, so I didn’t dilly dally and was soon heading back down the road through Dumfries and Galloway towards Langholm.
I was a bit disappointed with my projected ‘easy ride home with the wind behind me’. A combination of low sun in my eyes, making avoiding potholes a tricky matter, and shifts in the direction of the road bringing the wind across me instead of behind me, meant that I went a lot more slowly than I had hoped.
I crossed the Esk at Eskdalemuir . . .
. . . and took the east bank route. This was my undoing. Lying in wait for me was the stiff climb up the Crurie Brae. The 10% gradient at the start of the 1.2 miles hill was too much for my knees and I had to stop to take a picture of the some trees to give them a rest.
I was able to resume and pedal up the rest of the hill, but my knees were not at all happy, and let me know about this for most of the rest of the way home. I had to take any little uphill sections extremely carefully so as not to upset them.
However, I did get home with safely, if slowly, and I thoroughly enjoyed most of the 42 mile outing. The ride had taken longer than I expected, and it had got decidedly chilly by the time that I got home, so I was glad that I hadn’t attempted a more ambitious distance.
A nice cup of tea warmed me up, and I took a moment to see if there were any birds about. A chaffinch seemed shocked to find a sparrow on the feeder.
The light was fading but there was enough about to let me see a snowdrop in the garden when Mrs Tootlepedal pointed it out to me . . .
. . . and two flying birds framed by the garden arch against the setting sun.
Our regular sibling zoom rounded off the day.
Because our weather has been so cloudy, I did not get a glimpse of the talked about full moon, but with clear weather tonight, I could see a slightly used moon. I was so pleased that I took a picture.
The flying bird of the day is another appalled chaffinch. This one is upset because another chaffinch had got to the feeder first.