The longest day

Today’s guest picture shows that Tony’s dogs are enjoying their Highland holiday too.

Since today was the longest day of the year, I thought it appropriate to try to achieve the longest bike ride of the year while I had plenty of daylight. The forecast was for a warm, cloudy day with a light wind. This sounded perfect. I got up a bit earlier than usual and ate a hearty breakfast. However, my enthusiasm for cycling was slightly dampened, when Mrs Tootlepedal put her nose outside the door and announced that it was raining.

Fortunately this turned out to be only a momentary aberration, and I set off at half past eight, intending to go to Dumfries and back, taking an indirect route.

As a plan, it went pretty well, though it did mean cycling for several hours into the light wind. However, I took things very gently and survived. I stopped frequently for a stretch, a snack and a drink . . . and to take pictures.

Wild flowers were abundant and I was spoiled for dog roses in the hedges. I took these four pictures, including ragged robin and loosestrife before I got to Annan.

After passing through Annan, I took a picture of a railway bridge over the line to Dumfries. This was to mark the fact that the one thing that I was unlikely to see today was a train of any sort.

As always seems to be the case, when I arrived at Powfoot, the tide was out. It was pretty gloomy, but a couple were having fun of a sort on the muddy shore.

I cycled through the caravan site and along the narrow lanes across the marsh. Once again, there were many roses to brighten a dull day.

I sat on a handy bench outside the Savings Museum in Ruthwell and ate a sandwich, before heading on along the Solway Coast to Bankend, a totally flat section of road.

At Bankend, I stood on the bridge and admired the romantic ruin of the Isle Tower . . .

. . . and a rich display of lichen on the bridge parapet.

When I joined the road from Dumfries to Caerlaverock at Bankend, I found a big notice telling me that the road would be closed this Thursday for the British Road Cycling Championships. I felt quite superior cycling along a championship course. My pride took a knock when I was passed by a fellow practising for the event. He was a serious cyclist, wearing an aerodynamic helmet and with a solid time trial wheel. He went past me like a rocket. I met a few more of these human rockets and I was very impressed to see that the ones coming towards me as I made my way back, were not too high and mighty to give an old codger a cheery wave as they flew by.

On my way to Dumfries, I passed a cow and castle at Caerlaverock . . .

. . . more cattle grazing on the marsh beside the Nith estuary . . .

. . . and Criffel under a cloud.

I made my last stop before Dumfries at Glencaple. The tide was still out and the view up the river was not very exciting, and there was only a lone oystercatcher to be seen by way of birdlife.

When I got to Kingholm Quay at Dumfries, I took the excellent bike path along the river, part of national Route 7 into the centre of town. It had a characteristic signpost.

I had hoped to use the many cycle paths in the town to extend my distance to 50 miles, but the path in the town was narrow and shared with pram pushers, dog walkers, hand holding couples and idiots wearing noise cancelling headphones. This was not productive so I took a picture of a disgruntled heron who had just been dive bombed by gulls . . .

. . . and the caul and bridge at the Sands . . .

. . . and turned back. Perhaps if I had gone over this smart new bridge before the town centre, I would have found better cycling.

I cycled back to Kingholm Quay and looked down the river. The view here was better than the one at Glencaple. Criffel had lost its cloud.

I pedalled back down the Nith Estuary, stopping for a snack and a look round at a nature reserve . . .

. . . and then stopped again a few miles further on, when I made a diversion to have a cup of coffee and a slice of very tasty cake at the WWT cafe on the reserve at Caerlaverock. This added a welcome three miles to my total, but did not make up for the deficit which I had acquired in Dumfries.

I pottered along the coast roads to Annan and Gretna, given help by the now friendly wind, and stopped to note how the low the Kirtle Water was. That gravel bank which should have been flooded many times, is now thoroughly covered with vegetation.

I made another little diversion from my intended route by going up to Gretna Green and Corries Mill before joining the A7 just north of Longtown. I turned off the main road to go through Canonbie and the Hollows on the old main road, stopping for a tractor throwing up a fountain of mowed grass behind it . . .

. . . and honeysuckle in a hedge, orange hawkweed at the Hollows bus shelter, daisies at the Hagg and grass near Old Irvine.

When I got back to Langholm, I found that I was a mile short of my target, so I had to cycle up to the High Mill Brig and back to bring my total for the day up to the magic 100 mile mark. I had hoped to do the ride in eight hours of cycling and ten hours of elapsed time. I managed to get in five minutes before the ten hours were up, but I missed the cycling time target by an annoying ten minutes. I blame the dog walkers and pedestrians of Dumfries for that, or possibly old age.

The ride was very satisfactory though. The adjustment I had made to my saddle yesterday proved to have been well judged, and I was as comfortable as one can be after eight hours in the saddle.

I had enough energy left for a quick stroll round the garden to see what caught my eye. There were plenty of eye catchers about.

Thinking that I might need some encouragement during my ride, Mrs Tootlepedal had sent me a text message telling me that there would be mince and tatties for tea. This had motivated me a lot. The mince and tatties duly appeared and went down very well.

While I was out, Dropscone had appeared bearing gifts. He had been to a supermarket and five custard doughnuts for 10p had proved an irresistible bargain. I had one for my pudding. It was delicious.

I didn’t fill the feeder today or look at the birds, with the result that apart from the grumpy heron in Dumfries, I only took one bird picture and it is the flying bird of the day.

Those interested can click on the map below for details of the trip. You can see that it was mostly very flat.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

32 thoughts on “The longest day

  1. It’s amazing how fast plants can colonize a sandbar in a river or stream. It happens here too.
    The dog roses and ragged robins were my favorites today.
    Congratulations on riding 100 miles and bring back such fine photos to document it.

  2. I also offer my congratulation on your 100 mile ride. I enjoyed the sights along this virtual tour, and found the dog rose to be quite beautiful. After a 100 mile ride, mince and tatties for tea sound quite nourishing.

    It was warm and sunny here today, in the mid 70s with a pleasant breeze. The forecast for this weekend is not so pleasant, with temperatures in the 90s. I was hoping to get through June without that kind of heat.

  3. I’m amazed that you have the time to take so many photographs when you are bent on completing a long ride within a specific time. Although there are many lovely shots today, my favourite is the cattle and the castle. That’s a juxtaposition you’d be very hard pressed to find around here!

    Tony’s dogs certainly seemed to be having a good time in the water. One of the things I like best about dogs is how they approach all things with such zest and enjoyment. A good lesson 🙂

    1. Especially Tony’s dogs. They are very enthusiastic. Taking the photographs is part of my system of frequent stops on long rides and is factored in to my time expectations. 🙂

  4. An excellent way of marking the longest day, and one with no trains. For me, a reminder of when I drove the same approximate route when staying in Lockerbie in 2015, a day or so away from meeting you and MrsTootlepedal for the first time.

  5. Well done completing the 100 miles – such a satisfying way of celebrating the longest day. Our longest night was made even darker by power outages! You have treated us to a fine variety of photographs to document both your trip and beautiful garden. Your and Mrs T are inspiring.

  6. Congratulations Tom and to use your words, that route was a monster! 100 miles!! And, as always, what a lovely collection of photos to highlight the route, even down to capturing a passing bird-battle! Hope you’re not too stiff and sore today. I’m off on a leisurely 14 miler on legs as opposed to wheels, which should pass those mystery yellow flowers again – I’ll try to get a better photo.

    1. A pleasure. The effort is as much mental as physical as cycling 30 miles and realising that you still have 70 to go can be quite daunting. Luckily I had interesting roads to ride on for the most part.

  7. Great ride, great pictures, congratulations all round. I particularly enjoyed the cow and the castle. I am proud to have a sibling who can still do that mileage in his eighties.

  8. A splendid ride, apart from the Dumfries section, A timely reference to the train strike. About 30 years ago I was doing the sprint section of a training run round a club track. Two young women glided past me and informed me that the outside lane was for jogging. “I’m going as fast as I can” I replied

    1. I have learned to temper my speed to my ability so I don’t get so tired now as I used to get when I was trying harder. I felt remarkably fresh when I finished.

  9. Well done for achieving your target- 100 miles that’s wonderful. Great photos on the way round . I love the photo over the river at Kingholm Quay- it’s like a painting.

  10. Great effort ,and congratulations on reaching the magic 100 mls and a very respectable pace for us folks of a certain age….A slow 20 mls is about the best I can manage these days..I should try harder as my teacher used to say,hmm.
    You should be feeling quite pleased with yourself.
    Nice and unusual to see you even got a wave from some professional cyclists.
    You’ve earned a few easy days for the rest of the week.

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