Posts Tagged ‘border hills’

Today’s guest picture is another from Dropscone’s Northumbrian holiday.  It shows his daughter and granddaughter on their way to visit the castle on Holy island.

holy island

It was sunny here, the wind had dropped, the cattle had been taken off Meikleholm Hill, and it was a perfect day for a walk up a hill.  So I went for a walk up a hill.

It was cold but not ridiculously so and with the sun being high enough in the sky by now to impart a little heat, walking was very pleasant.  My walking poles are a great benefit for hilly terrain, both going up and going back down again.  They help push me up and stop me falling down.

As I went up Meikleholm Hill, I passed this old hawthorn.  At first sight, you might think that it has been blown over but it is still growing and just keeping itself as low to the ground and out of the wind as it can.

old hawthorn

From the top of Meikleholm Hill at 262m (859ft) I paused for a breather and to admire the view along the ridge from Castle Hill to Potholm Hill on the other side of the Esk…

castle hill ridge

…and the green fields beside the river below.

milnholm valley

Two views that never fail to please.

Looking up to my left, I saw a very unusual sight indeed these days.  As you can see, the blades of the turbines were absolutely stationary for once.

craig windfarm still

I dropped down from the top of Meikleholm Hill and then began the walk up Timpen, the next hill along the ridge.  In spite of all the recent rain, the going underfoot was not too bad, and although I was only wearing walking shoes and not boots, my feet stayed dry.

climb to timpenb

Once again I was glad of an excuse to stop for a breather when I got to the top of the hill.  The trig point there has a bench mark, showing that I had reached 1024ft (312m) above sea level.

trig point timpen

To be fair, I had started at 269ft (82m) in the town so I hadn’t actually climbed a thousand feet.

There is a good view to reward the walker at this point.  Sadly, although it was a sunny day, it wasn’t a clear day and the hills in the distance were slightly obscured by haze.

view from timpen

Still, I wasn’t complaining, as the lack of wind made the 5°C temperature feel quite spring like as I walked on along the ridge to the north.

descent from timpen

I didn’t go far along the ridge and gently slid off the top of the hill making my way down to the road below by easy stages, using the contours as my friend.

Looking down below me, I could see Craigcleuch, built in 1874 for one of our local mill owners.


Looking beyond the house, I could see the road running through the Gates of Eden in the foreground and the hills of the Ewes valley beyond.

view through gates of eden

As I dropped down the hill, I came to a little gully where the steep banks had discouraged the sheep from eating the trees before they could grow.  I was stopped in my tracks when I saw a monster waiting to attack me…

monster green sike

…but it turned out to be harmless.

I liked this  old tree which had managed to survive even though it was on the flat above the gully.

tree green sike

The little gully that I was walking  along was joined by another…

green ske junction

…and together they made quite a dent in the hillside down which the Green Sike ran…

green sike

…and provided some picturesque corners where a picnic on a sunny day would be quite in order.

delightful spot green sik

I arrived at the road, and set off back to town.  After coming down the hill from the quarry, I chose to take one of the Langholm Walks paths instead of continuing along the road…

…and there could not have been a greater contrast to my open hilly route on the way out.

walk 2

I passed an elegant fern on my way and I could easily tell you what sort it is if only I could remember what Mike Tinker had told me when we walked here a year or two ago.  He is a fern fancier and knows them all by name.

fern on walk 2

A little stream chattering down the hill…

cascade near Duchess bridge

…and a newly broken branch…

fallen tree near Duchess Bridge

….were a reminder of last week’s wet and windy weather.

I got home just in time for lunch, having had a four mile walk of which not one single second had been boring.

After lunch, I watched the birds for a while.  There weren’t many about and some of those that visited the feeder wished to remain anonymous.

chaffinch hiding

…though others were keen to make sure that I had noticed them.

chaffinches checking

I didn’t watch the birds for long though and I greatly surprised myself by getting ready to go out for a cycle ride.  The day was just to good to waste.

All the same, the weather gods had to have their little joke and as soon as I put my cycle helmet on, it started to rain quite heavily.  Luckily, it was only a little joke, and a few minutes later I set off in dry conditions which lasted for the rest of my ride.

The lack of wind couldn’t last and there was enough wind for me to notice but not enough to make cycling a chore.

I had already taken far too many pictures and I didn’t stop for any more until a red traffic light at Irvine House forced me to apply the brakes.

I had another look at the landslip there…

landslide irvine house

Looking at it, it seems fortunate that some of the road didn’t go down the hill too. The fallen tree had taken quite a lot of masonry with it.

landslide irvine house tree

In contrast to the still morning, smoke from a neighbour’s chimney when I got home showed that the wind was back in the afternoon.


I had had ideas of a longer ride in the benign conditions, but my legs were quite adamant that the 20 miles of my familiar Canonbie circuit would be quite enough, thank you.  So that’s what I did.  It doesn’t pay to take up arms against your legs.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy in the morning but she had done some useful gardening in the afternoon so we had both been able to make good use of a rare calm day.

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to another meeting.  The proposed land purchase is keeping her and the rest of the group very busy.

For the second day running, before I got to work on the blog I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database, using the program which our son Alistair kindly repaired for us.  There is quite a backlog arising from the time when the page was unavailable so the data miners are on hold at the moment.

The flying bird of the day is a female chaffinch looking positively stately.

flying chaffinch

Footnote: I am sorry about the large number of pictures but I did throw out a lot more,  It was a good day.

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Today’s guest picture is another from the files.  On his visit to Blackpool last month, Bruce was brave enough to venture onto the glass floor looking down from the top of the famous tower.  Rather him than me!  I don’t like the way that the thing seems to be held together by baler twine.

blackpool tower glass floor

We had an unequivocally sunny day here today with not a cloud in the sky.  The payback was that the thermometer hardly scraped above freezing all day.

It was chilly when I had a look round the garden after breakfast and even our wooden heron had got a new hairstyle.

frozen garden nov

However, the sun showed off the walnut tree well.

walnut tree sunny morning

It was far too cold and potentially icy to go cycling so I was very happy that it was a Friday and Dropscone came round with the traditional Friday treacle scones. They were very tasty today.

We ate them while we drank coffee and chatted.  Dropscone had been playing golf at Powfoot and had played a few holes with an elderly member of the club.  He was impressed to discover that the stranger had an even larger collection of second hand golf balls than he had.  It must be large, for as far as I know, Dropscone has never bought a new golf ball in all the time that I have known him.

Mrs Tootlepedal had coffee at the Buccleuch Centre with her ex-work colleagues and one of them mentioned that she has an aunt who lives in Kent who enjoys reading these posts, so I am sending greetings to Kent today in the hope that she reads this one.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a walk to the top of one of our local hills.

The walk up Warbla is on a good track, especially when it has been hardened by frost but is still not icy.  This was the case today.  We could hardly have had a better day for a November walk.

There was very little wind and in the sun, it was warm but in the shady spots, it was pretty chilly.  This horse looked as though it might have preferred to have been in the next door field.

horse in shadow

On our way to the summit, we passed trees both anguished….

bent ree warbla

…and relatively cheerful.

bare tree warbla

After a steep section, the final part of the track levels out and Mrs Tootlepedal strode out at a good pace.

warbla track Mrs t

I had stopped to take a panorama picture of the Wauchope Valley.

warbla panorama 1

Click on the pic for the full scene.

It was cold enough for the puddles along the track to be artistically icy.

warbla icy puddle

When we reached the top, we could look down into England.  A low mist covered the Eden Valley and obscured the northern hills.

warbla mist over england

I wasn’t surprised because I have seen it before, but I am still amazed to find molehills right on the top of the hill.  The soil must be very thin here and you would think that there would be slim pickings for the little creatures.

warbla mole

I walked to the edge of the hill and took another panorama, looking right over the town in the valley below.


Mrs Tootlepedal leaned reflectively on the trig point for a while, contemplating the glorious views…

mrs t warbla summit

…and then we headed back down the hill.  We cast a long shadow as the sun went down behind us.

long shadows warbla

The hills were casting shadows as well.

sinking sun warbla

When we got to the wall at the bottom of the open hill, there were things to be seen as usual.  I was very excited when I saw the subject of the middle frame of the panel.  It looked very exotic at first sight,  but it turned out to be common or garden heather so I got less excited.

three things warbla wall

As we got down towards the Stubholm, I looked across the valley to Whita Hill where the dying bracken added a strong touch of colour to the view….

whita from warbla1

…and the clever zoom lens on my pocket camera could read the yardage signs on the golf course practice area, nearly three quarters of a mile away.

golf course signs

I put this picture in just for Dropscone

The lights on our town Christmas tree are going to be switched on tomorrow.  I noticed that nature has been doing its own work too.

nature's christmas tree

The light was already fading when we got home and the frosty weather had been keeping birds away from the feeder so there were not a lot to look at.  I  did catch a visit from our robin who hopped from stalk to feeder…

robin panel

..before quickly flying off again.

As a photographer, I was interested in this picture of a chaffinch when I looked at it on the computer.  The low sun was definitely behind him and yet he appears to be lit from in front.  I can only assume that a reflection from the feeder was responsible.

frontlit chaffinch

Later on, Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday evening visit and I tried to put all the useful advice I have been giving Luke to good use in my own playing as Alison and I played Telemann and Loeillet sonatas.  (More work is needed but at least it is good advice.)

A rather gloomy chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch


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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s who visited Oslo on his Scandinavian  cruise.  He tells me that She Lies (Norwegian: hun ligger) is a public sculpture by Monica Bonvicini made of stainless steel and glass panels.  It is a permanent installation, floating on the water in the fjord and turns on its axis in line with the tide and wind, offering changing experiences through reflections from the water and its transparent surfaces.  I would add that it is not often that you see a window cleaner at work on a sculpture.


I had a quiet morning in as although it was dry again, I wasn’t attracted to the idea of going for a cycle ride in very strong winds.  I did walk round the garden where thanks to the continuing mild mornings, there are plenty of flowers still blooming.  The panel below doesn’t show everything that’s out by any means.

garden flowers late october

Mrs Tootlepedal made some delicious ginger biscuits and then we cracked open some of our walnut crop and she made a walnut and banana loaf.  The biscuits have been well tested but the loaf is waiting for tomorrow for a try out.

After lunch, I practised songs for our Glasgow trip and then went off for a walk. Mrs Tootlepedal, having checked my proposed route and tested the wind, decided that gardening would be more fun.

I walked up through the town and onto the golf course.  My plan was to look for toadstools which often flourish there.

I think that i was too late this year and most of the fungus has flown.  What was left was a bit tattered.

golf course fungus

Still, it was a pleasure to be on the well maintained course and the views always are available to console a golfer after a poor shot and me after a fruitless fungus hunt.

golf course

This was my favourite view from the course today.

trees from golf course

I walked up to the top of the course and took the track onto the open hill, passing this fine wall…

whita wall

…which was rich with interest.

whita moss amnd lichen

I was soon high enough up to get good views back down over the town…Langholm from whita

….and away to the south over the Gretna windmills and the Solway Firth to the Lake District Hills which were nudging the clouds as they passed over.

skiddaw from whita

I took closer looks at the town…

dye house chimney

…where the poplars beside the church was very prominent…

poplars from whita

…and looking at the New Town, I could see our walnut tree in the middle of the picture.  (It is behind the much darker tree.)

new town from whita

I walked along the old track towards the quarry and leapt nimbly over the stile at the wall (that might not be an entirely true statement) before going down the hill on the far side of the wall.

The hill is not grazed intensively these days and young trees are able to grow without being nibbled before they can established themselves.

birch on whita

Going down the hill on a rough path requires all my concentration these days and if I try to look at the views as I descend, I am likely to fall over.  I didn’t fall over today but I had to stop if I wanted to look at the river below.

river esk from whita

The sun came out as I  walked through a newly established birch thicket…

new wood on whita

…and I had one last stop for a view…

looking over langholm

…before I came to the woods on the lower slopes of the hill and walked down to the river to take the obligatory shot of Skippers Bridge.

skippers arch in autumn

This shot had added interest today, because when I looked at the picture later, I noticed something which  I hadn’t seen at the time, a cormorant doing a little fishing under the bridge.

cormorant at skippers

I crossed the bridge, clambered down the bank on the far side and looked back.

skppers from up river

A quick check on the camera at this point showed me that I had already taken over 100 pictures, so I stuck it firmly in my pocket and resolved to take no more before I got home….

…but who can resist a goosander?


My walk was about three and a half miles long and I was very pleased with the co-operation that my feet offered as I went along. My new insoles are doing a good job.

Mrs Tootlepedal had just finished her gardening when I arrived back but she had enough energy left to cook a dish of smoked sausage and spinach with a cream cheese sauce served with penne.  I needed it to give me strength as it was soon time to go out to my Langholm choir practice.

Our regular conductor was not there but our accompanist did a very good job of directing us and playing at the same time so we had a useful session.

On my way home from my walk in the afternoon, I came across a gang of jackdaws finding something interesting to do in the middle of  Henry Street.  They wisely took off when a vehicle approached, allowing me to capture a double (low) flying bird of the day.

two flying jackdaws

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