Posts Tagged ‘Black Esk’

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Bruce.  He ordered 28 litter pickers from two different sources.  24 of them came in the small box at the front of his picture.  The other four from Amazon came in one enormous box each.  This is the economics of madness.

litter pickersIt was sunny when I woke up this morning.  I was so surprised that I had to have a little lie down.  In fact, it was sunny and misty at the same time and I had hopes that the mist would lift and we would have a fine day so I got the fairly speedy bike out after breakfast.

Instead of my usual westerly route, I pedalled northwards today.  It is a fine cycling route but I don’t use it very often because the first few miles are appallingly surfaced and it is very bumpy.

Things looked promising as I looked over the Esk valley soon after the start.

Gates of EdenIt looked as though the clouds would soon be gone but the further I went along, the more the clouds thickened up and by the time that I was half way round, all signs of blue sky had disappeared.

Still, I had some sunshine left as I pedalled up to Bailliehill, looking down on the River Esk below me.

River EskI stopped to take a photograph of the meeting of the White and Black Esk rivers just past Bailliehill.

The White Esk

The White Esk, this was the one I would be following for the next part of my ride.

The Black Esk

The Black Esk. This is dammed further up for a reservoir which provides Langholm with its water supply.

Just a few yards upstream, the Black Esk is crossed by a striking bridge, obviously very popular with birds.

Black Esk bridgeI cycled on towards Eskdalemuir, following the route of the Eskdale Prehistoric Trail.  I didn’t visit any of the sites as it would involve too much walking and I was on a tight schedule. The only site that you can see from the road is this one…

EPT, Over Rig…at Over Rig.  It is described in the leaflet accompanying the trail as a unique and perplexing site – fascinating but mysterious.  There is a good deal of speculation about the site but the leaflet ends its entry by asking, “What was it? Will we ever know?”  In my case, the answer to the second question is, “No.”

The road to Eskdalemuir through Castle O’er is one of my favourites and even the final disappearance of the sun couldn’t diminish my pleasure as I pedalled quietly along It.  The road back to Langholm on the other bank of the river…


Prehistoric Trail

 ….is less interesting and has a steep hill near the start but with a long descent to ease the muscles after it.

I was stopped in my tracks near Bentpath by the sound of bleating.  It was the first lamb of the year.

lambAlthough shorter than yesterday’s ride, today’s effort had quite a bit more climbing and I was pleased to arrive home in good order.  I had taken things very easily up all the hills partly because I wanted to be sensible and partly because I had little oomph in my legs anyway so my average speed was in the stately class.

When I got home, I had a tour round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.  We were impressed by a pond full of purring frogs…

three frogs…and the crocuses, which have been looking very battered,  were impressed by the warmer weather.

crocusescrocusesI spent a little time watching a very feisty lady chaffinch seeing off all comers.

chaffinchAfter lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle to purchase some building supplies and I went to a meeting about the forthcoming Tourist Information season for which I am a volunteer.  There are exciting plans afoot with new premises planned and all we need now is some tourists.

After the meeting was over, I got the slow bike out and revisited the Kilngreen and the Castleholm hoping to get some better pictures of dippers and tree creepers now that the light was a bit better even though it was still cloudy.  Needless to say I didn’t see a dipper or a tree creeper today but on the plus side, I saw a wagtail….

wagtail…and got some better picture of catkins and flowers of the hazels by the river.

catkinshazel flowersThe pictures gives no clue to how tiny the elegant female flower is compared to the showy males  catkins.

I was quite tired after two days energetic cycling but I had enough energy to admire the chimney pot which was first capped and then completed during the day.

chimneyIt suits the house very well.  The builders are finishing the inside work and the end wall will be wet dashed (like the chimney) at the weekend so the end really is in sight now.

In the evening, we went to our local community choir, Langholm Sings.  We are working towards two concerts at the end of May so we have plenty to do at our practices.

The flying bird of the day is a duck which nearly knocked me over on the Kilngreen.

flying duck

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Today’s picture shows that there are fine canals in the south of England as well as the south of France.  This is a shot of the Kennet and Avon taken by my sister Susan on a recent visit.

kennet and avon

We had the third day of interrupted sunshine running today and some of us are finding it very hard to take it in.  I was too tired and the temperature was too chilly for me to join Dropscone round the morning run but he is made of hardier stuff and went round Waterbeck on his own, dropping off the scones on his way.  I hadn’t eaten them by the time he got back and we shared them over a cup of coffee or two.

He had been to a very good golf course at Gullane for a competition yesterday and his enthusiasm almost made me want to take up golf again.  Luckily I am too sensible to punish my joints and brain by doing anything so rash.

The unfortified fat balls have been attracting the attention of a couple of starlings and I caught this one in an elegant pose.  I would say that starlings must have been designed by an Italian.


There have been some chilly mornings but we have been spared a thoroughgoing frost so far and the garden is surviving the cold  well.  The nerine outside the kitchen window is getting better all the time.


The chaffinches were in residence in the plum tree, enjoying the sun as much as we were.

chaffinch basking

The dry spell has got the insects out and about again and the Michaelmas daises were covered in a multitude of small life.


insect with shades

And to my surprise, there was a butterfly about as well. This is a red admiral.

red admiral

I never knew that butterflies were so furry until I had a camera.

The pink rose, after looking as though it was on its last legs, is going great guns and had a proper flower out today.

pink rose


I enjoyed this final spike of astilbe catching the morning sun too.


The shadows finally cleared the feeders and I was able to take this great tit just before lunch.

great tit

After lunch I was turning a little compost when a van drew up outside and the man who makes cider locally came and pruned our apple tree for us.  This was very kind but also self interested as he is hoping to harvest a good crop next year for his cider making.  It couldn’t be worse than this year.  Here is a before and after shot of the tree.

apple tree pruning

He would have liked to have taken a bit more off but didn’t want to give the old tree too much of a shock.  The Charles Ross apples against the hedge caught his eye…

Charles Ross

He advised us to pick them before a frost got them so we picked them as soon as he was gone.

They are for us and not for him.

After he left, I got into some warm gear and got the (fairly) speedy bike out as the temperature was now up to a very reasonable 9° C. As there was a light north wind blowing and I like to be blown home, I set off north up the Eskdalemuir road.  After a sharp climb in the first mile, this is a pleasant road to cycle along.

It is an iron law of nature that on a fine day, a man with a camera in his pocket can’t pass the view of the Gates Of Eden without stopping to photograph it no matter how many times he has shot it before….

Gates of Eden

It really was a fine day.

…and the same applies to the church at Bentpath.

Westerkirk Church

I cycled up to Bailliehill, running the gauntlet of a flock of sheep…

Rampaging sheep

…and then, like yesterday, the lure of a fine bridge drew onwards towards the junction of the Black and White Esk rivers.

Black and White Esk

This is the bridge over the Black Esk just above the junction of the rivers.

Black Esk bridge

Since the day was so kind, I decided to cycle on for a mile or two.  It was gently uphill on a good surface and when I came to Castle O’er….

Castle O'er

…I turned round and enjoyed cycling back down the gentle downhill.

I took it easy on the way home and completed the 23 miles at a very sober 12.7 mph.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came.  What with one thing and another, we haven’t had many lessons recently and I asked him if he had been practising while I was away.  ‘A lot’, he said confidently and he was quite right.  He had made really good progress and I was delighted.   I definitely think that he has the makings of a flautist.

Later on, I went to the Buccleuch Centre with Sandy to listen to a musician at the other end of the age scale.  This was Ralph McTell, a noted singer and guitarist.  We were a bit alarmed when it emerged that the show would last 1 hr 45 mins without an interval but in the event, the time passed extremely quickly.  He is a very fine guitarist indeed in the finger picking mode of the American bluesmen such as Blind Gary Davis and has a foot tapping sense of rhythm.

As an extra treat, we could hear every single word that he sang and he retains a most pleasing singing voice.  It was refreshing to hear a singer using a natural register and not shouting at us in the strained voice fashionable today.    The audience applauded with vigour at each number but there was no shouting or cheering and the whole evening had a very nice old fashioned air about it.  The theatre was pretty well full and I would imagine that everyone there went home feeling well satisfied.

There are two flying chaffinches for the price of one today to please Dropscone who likes a bargain.


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