Over the hills and quite far away

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia. She had heard of the bottlebrush tree before but she was quite surprised to see this bottle tree on a garden visit.

Our day started with a check on the trail camera. There had been overnight hedgehog sightings. We were very happy.

Then we had a visit from Sandy for coffee. He was in a very cheerful mood because his recovery from his various operations is going very well at the moment. We may even be able to get a walk soon.

I was dressed for cycling while drinking my coffee, as I had decided to make good use of a warm, dry and not too windy day. When Sandy left, I made a packed lunch, got my cycling gear organised, and left Mrs Tootlepedal drinking coffee with Margaret as I pedalled off into the wide blue yonder.

It was a perfect day for cycling, not too hot, occasionally sunny, and with not a lot of traffic on the main road as I set off north out of the town.

I went up the Ewes Valley . . .

. . . over the hill at Mosspaul and down into Teviotdale. I crossed the River Teviot at Martins bridge . . .

. . . and headed up the Borthwick Burn to Roberton.

Although I was going uphill, the countryside was so beautiful that I felt no pain. Just before Roberton, I was hailed by a couple of cyclists who had been misled by an app into thinking that a grassy track only suitable for walking was a road. They wanted to know if there was an actual road to Ashkirk further up the hill. I thought that there might be, but I don’t ride this very often at all and I couldn’t be sure, so I told them that there might be one. I left them as they considered their options, and felt decidedly guilty when I passed a signpost saying “Ashkirk” not much further up the hill. However, at this point the hill was very steep (10% in places) so I wasn’t going to go back down to tell them.

The hill tops out at 1000ft, and then the road drops down and crosses through the middle of the Alemoor reservoir . . .

. . . before winding across the moor . . .

. . . and dropping down into the Etrrick valley by way of the Rankle Burn.

I crossed the Ettrick Water and took the road towards Langholm from Tushielaw.

After five miles, I crossed the Ettrick Water again . . .

. . . after pausing for a snack and a rest under this fine tree.

I then followed the Tima Water . . .

. . . up another beautiful valley . . .

. . . passing swans swimming on Tima Loch . . .

. . . before arriving at the county boundary at 1000 ft again . . .

. . . with 20 mostly downhill miles to go back to Langholm.

I say mostly, because there was another very steep hill to climb after Eskdalemuir with more 10% gradients.

However, I got over it, and pedalled down through Bentpath along the Esk valley . . .

. . .and arrived home safe and sound (and very slowly).

It was a hilly 64 mile trip with 3100 feet of climbing involved. It took me five and a half hours of cycling and six and half hours with stops for snaps and snacks. I solved the problem of the two steep hills by putting my bike into its lowest gear and pedalling very gently and slowly, never getting into breathing difficulties or stressing my knees. I am past the age where rushing up hills holds any attraction for me.

If I had stopped for every good view or delightful wild flower, I would still be pedalling now, but I did stop for a few here and there.

This was the view back down the Borthwick Water valley as I went up the Roberton Hill . . .

. . . and this was the extensive view back from the top of the hill. My camera can’t do its scale justice at all.

Here is a selection of wild things, heather, harebells, willowherb and marsh woundwort. I was very surprised to see heather in bloom high in the hills.

I was also very pleased to see both chicory and scabious on my way. The hawthorn berries are ripening. I don’t know how that lichen sneaked into a wild flower panel.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been very busy all afternoon in the garden while I was out, and after a cup of tea, we had a walk round to see the results of her work. I took a token picture of a dahlia.

There was no time to watch birds during the day, so here are two sitting sparrows and a siskin, the nearest that I could get to a flying bird today.

Footnote: Those interested can click on the map below for more details of the ride.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

24 thoughts on “Over the hills and quite far away

  1. The views of the hills and wildflowers are beautiful. They were certainly worth the ride.
    I’m glad you found more chicory and bluebells. Their color is my favorite.
    I’m also glad a non white dahlia has appeared in the garden.

  2. The views and wildflowers always take my breath away, and I thank you for sharing them.

    It is good to see the hedgehog again, too. The night vision trail camera looks like a good investment.

  3. I was surprised to see the bottle tree in your first picture. Very original ! Useless to confirm that this was a beautiful trip, your pictures already do. 64 miles up and down, almost a stage of the Tour de France.

  4. Well done for cycling so far and for sensibly pacing yourself up the steep hills. Thanks for all those wonderful views of the beautiful countryside you live in.

  5. Happy to see the hedgehog- wonder if there are any hoglets? Loved your cycle ride so many wonderful views to enjoy and a fine collection of wildflowers too! Didn’t know it was heather time already-where has this year gone?

  6. Great ride today with significant height gains,and as you say in near perfect weather for cycling which takes some of the sting out of the hills.
    Some superb landscape photos along the way.
    I must try and vary my rides a bit more too.

  7. I use this route when I take out the MGB for a run, Recently I’ve noticed quite a few more cyclists. Bit difficult keeping to the new Highway Code for passing but most seem to get sick of me following and wave past. Do you notice the difference in the road surface between the Borders area and Dumfries?

    1. I certainly do notice the better surfaces in the Borders. More money there of course. I usually make every effort to get a car to pass me when I am on a single track road. It is a lovely route.

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