Posts Tagged ‘Borders railway’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Alistair who went up on to Calton Hill with his wife and daughter to see the lights of Edinburgh.

edinburgh night

We had another grey and rather miserable day here today but it was dry enough for a while to let my step mother Patricia and me get out for a short three bridges walk while Mrs Tootlepedal was off on a fir cone hunt.

Pictures from the walk follow but news on the fir cones will have to wait for a later date.

Patricia and I crossed the Town Bridge and walked along the Kilngreen, passing this fine tree on the way…

berry at kilngreen

..until we came to the Sawmill Brig…

sawmill brig late november

As we approached the bridge, I said to Patricia that on occasion one could lean on the parapet and watch a dipper on the rocks below.

As it happened, today was one such occasion, although the dipper was on a branch and not a rock.

dipper at sawmill brig 1

As a treat for Patricia, the dipper flew off (to a nearby rock) and was almost immediately replaced by another.

dipper at sawmill brig 2

I felt very sagacious.

There was a very fine drizzle so we didn’t hang around and managed to get home before it started to rain more seriously.

During the morning, I kept an eye on the feeder and was pleased to see that it was quite busy.

A greenfinch took advantage of one of the old sunflower stalks to weigh up the situation.

greenfinch on stalk

A goldfinch was kept waiting by other goldfinches who had got there first.

goldfinches at feeder

A blue tit stood up very straight…

blue tit straight

…but a chaffinch stood up even straighter.

chaffinch straight

Mrs Tootlepedal made some soup (with croutons)  and we enjoyed that with some biscuits and cheese for our lunch.

Then we piled into the car and drove through some steady but light rain to Tweedbank where we caught the train to Edinburgh.  Patricia had organised a get together at a restaurant in Edinburgh to celebrate her recent ninetieth birthday with our two sons and their families and we caught a train which would leave us half an hour to walk down to the restaurant.

And indeed it would have left us half an hour for our walk if it hadn’t been half an hour late.  On a 35 mile journey, this was quite a feat.

Even so, the taxi from the station would have got us there only a moment or two late, if it hadn’t got stuck in desperate traffic several times on the short  journey to the restaurant.  Still we eventually all arrived and met and had our meal.

Tony and Alistair sat beside Patricia…

Pat's party edinburgh

…and unfortunately a party of about twenty cheery people squished onto a rather small space behind them so our meal wasn’t quite as peaceful and orderly as we might have wished.  The party behind had booked as eight people so the restaurant was rather overwhelmed when more than double the number turned up but they battled on and we got our meal.

All  this meant that we were a bit rushed by the end but Tony kindly gave us a lift back to the station and we caught our train back to Tweedbank with minutes to spare.  There were more minutes to spare as the train’s guard and driver spent about ten of them persuading a drunk man to get off (and stay off) the train at a station down the line.  It just wasn’t our day for trains.

Still, we got back to Tweedbank and drove home through a very light drizzle, relieved that forecasts of continuous heavy rain had proved to be alarmist.

These unexpected events were a bit disappointing for Patricia but she took them in a very good spirit.  We hope that her train back to London tomorrow runs smoothly.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

I would like to thank all the readers who took the time to wish me a happy birthday.  I did indeed have a happy birthday and would have answered all the comments individually if I hadn’t been quite tired by the time that I came to write this post for some  mysterious reason (perhaps old age).

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Today’s guest picture is a further report from Tony’s Highland holiday.  He has been to the Isle of Skye.


A lot of my posts recently seem to have been done late at night and in rather a rush, not helped by my computer behaving in a grumpy manner and frequently holding things up.  This one is no exception so I apologise for any dodgy photos and grammatical infelicities.  I am tired.

A couple of readers have asked for more general garden shots. I leaned out of upstairs windows this morning and had a look about.

The front lawn has had a dose of my moss eating treatment so it looks a bit patchy but the beds round it are quite colourful at the moment.

front lawn 27 june

I couldn’t get a view of the whole of the middle lawn because the plum tree gets in the way but the grass is better on it and I like the combination of shrubs and flowers in the right hand bed.

middle lawn 27 june

This is a view from one lawn to the other across the pond.

view of pond bed

General views are all very well but who could pass roses and peonies like these without taking a picture?

the wren margareta and peony

And even in their passing, the peonies are full of interest.

peony teeth

Our neighbour Liz brought her great nephew into the garden to walk over the pond bridge and I was able to point out a frog basking in the sunshine to him as he crossed.

june frog

In return, he told me that he had seen fish swimming in the dam, so I went out to have a look.  He was right.

fish in dam

I had time to mow the middle lawn before we set off in the Zoe for an outing.

The chief business of the day was our customary trip to Edinburgh, but instead of going to Lockerbie as usual, we went to Tweedbank to catch a train on the Borders Railway.  One of the reasons for the change of route was that it let us visit the lost property office of the Border Bus Company in Galashiels on the way.  Some careless fellow had left his cap on the bus to Carlisle when we went to London recently and it had been returned to Galashiels where I picked it up today.  The cap fitted so I wore it.

The route up to Edinburgh from Tweedbank is delightful on a sunny day, and it was certainly very sunny today.  Although the farmers weren’t making hay as the sun shone, they were certainly cutting a lot of silage.

view from border's railway

We did a little shopping when we got to Edinburgh, and then we sat on the top deck of a bus as we went down to see Matilda.  We were in the front seats and got a good view of a bit of Edinburgh of the past…

old edinburgh

…and a bit of Edinburgh to come.

new edinburgh

As it was such a lovely day, Matilda was keen to visit the park again.  The road to the park is called Butterfly Way so it was good to see an actual butterfly on the way to the park.

butterfly way

The park was busy and Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda had to take avoiding action when a cyclist came towards them.

Mrs T and Matilda Lochend

Not everyone was busy though, and we saw this duck having a snooze in the middle of the loch.

duck at Lochend

We arrived safely at the little pier at the end of the Loch and were able to see water birds of all sorts.

pond life Lochend

And we noticed that coots have very big feet….

….as do moorhens.

moorhen Lochend

Mallard’s feet are more in keeping with the size of their bodies.

mallard Lochend

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the coots and moorhens need big feet not just for swimming but to support themselves when they are wading over mud and marsh.


Matilda had a lot of fun on the adventurous climbing frame, the roundabout and a swing, and then was given some bread by a kind lady to feed the birds.  She found that gulls are very rude and greedy birds.

A magpie turned up after all the food was gone and looked a bit put out.

magpie Lochend

After plenty of fun all round, we returned home and played a couple of games of Go Fish.  I won’t tell you who won because it will just make Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda big headed.  I didn’t cry though.

After another delicious meal cooked for us by Alistair and Clare, it was time to head for home on a very comfortable and punctual train.  The days are so long now and the weather was so good today, that it was still light when we arrived back at ten o’clock.

There was no time for a flying bird today.  A picture of Matilda having a standing up straight competition with a lamppost takes its place.

Matilda standing straight


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Today’s guest picture is a very strange aperture in the clouds sent to me by our son Tony. Perhaps the weather gods had opened their kitchen window to see what he was up to down below.

hole in cloud

We had a second sunny day running here today.   Once again, it was quite chilly after breakfast so I had a cup of coffee, watched the birds…

two chaffinches

…did the crossword, bought some spinach from our corner shop and only then, set off.

I decided to go in a different direction today and started up the main road through the Ewes Valley, which was looking very inviting in the morning sunshine.

Ewes valley from Terrona

Wafted up the gentle hill by a favouring gale, I reached Fiddleton Toll in no time and turned off to go over the hill and down into Liddesdale.

This quiet road has recently been resurfaced and was in very good condition so I pedalled along in a very cheerful mood…

hermitage road nesar foddleton

…which persisted even when I came to the steep hill up to Carrotrigg.  It may not look very steep in the picture but I needed to use my lowest gear to get up it without putting too much strain on my tin knee.

carrotrig hill from bottom

I took the precaution of stopping after a while on the excuse of looking at the view behind me.  It is one of my favourite views so it was a good excuse.

looking back into Ewes valley at Fiddleton

The road ahead doesn’t look too bad either and there can have been few people in the world who felt more blessed at that moment than I did.

road up carrotrig hill

As I rode along the Carrotrigg hogsback, looking at the hills around me, I was metaphorically, and almost literally, for a moment at least, on top of the world.

hills at carrotrig

I went down the steep hill on the far side with extreme caution.  It was a bit of a waste of all the height that I had had to work so hard to gain but I was happy to get to the valley bottom in one piece and be able to enjoy this little bridge…

bridge below carrotrig

…and this neatly maintained circular sheep pen…

circular bield

…before arriving at Hermitage Castle (closed for the winter months)…

hermitage castle

…the last stop before I got onto the road south which follows the Liddel Water through Liddesale, visits Newcastleton and then drops down to Canonbie.

The nature of my pedal changed here as now I was cycling into the sun and the steady breeze which had been so helpful in pushing me up the hills so far.

It was not only this tree that was feeling the strain.

leaning tree steele road

Still, the road to Newcastleton from Hermitage is gently downhill so even into the wind, I was making reasonable progress and passing interesting things….

alpaca grazing

…until I was stopped in my tracks by the sound of my mobile phone ringing in my back pocket.

It had stopped ringing by the time that I had stopped pedalling and when I got it out, I found that the missed call had come from Mrs Tootlepedal.  I noticed that I had also received a text message from Sandy.  Intrigued, I rang Mrs Tootlepedal back and was appalled to find that she was at the Archive Group’s annual lunch, a lunch which I should have been at too.  We had both forgotten about it completely and Sandy had gone to fetch Mrs Tootlepedal who had been hard at work in the garden.

With twenty hard miles to go to get back to Langholm, it was obvious that I wasn’t going to make the lunch so I pedalled on in rather a chastened mood.

Still, what was done was done, and there was nothing for it but to enjoy the rest of the ride as best as I could.

I stopped before I got to Newcastleton to take a picture of this railway bridge over a disused section of the old Waverley Line from Edinburgh to Carlisle.

railway bridge Copshaw

The northern half of this line has been re-opened in recent years and there is a strong push to get the southern half reinstated as soon as possible.

It would be nice to see this happen but it will need a lot of good will, hard work, excellent planning and pots of money, all of which seem to be in short supply at the moment.

I stopped in Newcastleton itself, and sat on a handy bench while I ate a banana and a finger of chocolate wafer.  Opposite me, the village’s two hotels, sitting side by side in the main square, looked to be keeping quite busy.

Grapes and Liddlesdale

Outside the hotels, there is a spot where free drink has been available in times past.

copshaw fountain

I had a real battle against the wind as I toiled up the three long hills which lie between Newcastleton and Canonbie.  Although this section of the route is slightly downhill overall as it follows the river, it never seems like that to me.  This is probably because the uphill sections are long and gradual and the downhill sections are short and sharp so I spend a lot more time going up than down.

I turned off just before I reached Canonbie and took a back road along to the Hollows.  This meant passing a sign with two words which by themselves fill my cycling heart with misgivings and together make me very worried.

windy hill

A nearby tree made the hill and the wind seem not so bad.

bare tree windy hill

When I got home after just under 40 miles, I was welcomed by the crocuses…

open crocuses

…and Mrs Tootlepedal who had returned from the Archivists’ Lunch.

Not unsurprisingly, the archivists had managed to have a very good time  with no help from me and both the food and the conversation had been thoroughly enjoyable.  Nancy, the organiser, was very gracious when I rang up to apologise for my incompetence.  She was rather relieved in one way because if I had appeared on cue, it would have meant thirteen people sitting down for lunch, a number which she regards as very ill omened.   Perhaps it was for the best after all.

I had got home from my ride at a good moment because our day turned from bright and sunny into very gloomy and rainy in what seemed like the twinkling of an eye.  Some of the gloom may have come from another very uneven performance by the Scotland rugby team which lead to a sound defeat by the French.

I used the spinach that I had bought in the morning to make a meal of  baked eggs on a bed of spinach with a rich cheese sauce for our tea.  It went down well as I had missed my lunch!

I didn’t have long to look out of the window today but a passing chaffinch appeared at the right time to become the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

Those interested can find details of my route by clicking on the map below.  I did thirteen miles fewer today than yesterday but climbed 100 feet more so it was not surprising that I was a lot slower.

Garmin Route 23 Feb 2019

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Today’s guest picture comes from our younger son Al and shows Matilda rightly triumphant beside a fantastic giraffe.  She may have had a little help in building it. I couldn’t rightly say.

matilda and giraffe

We went to Edinburgh to see Matilda today and in the the course of the day, saw both our sons as one had just finished painting the other’s house.

Al and Clare, Matilda’s parents are moving house soon and wanted there present house to look as neat as possible for potential buyers so they hired Tony and his men to paint it from top to toe and when we saw it today, finished only this morning, it looked very good indeed.

We had caught the train from Tweedbank to Edinburgh…


…and as you can see, when they built the new station at Tweedbank, the authorities didn’t spend a penny on anything that might have made it an attractive place to wait for a train.  Still, the train ran on time and there were plenty of seats so we had no complaints.

The train takes its time trundling through the borders and I was able to take a picture through the window of this ancient castle as we passed.


Note the very modern solar panels on its roof.

We met Tony and his partner Marianne at Al and Clare’s house and admired his work.  After we left the newly painted house, I paused to admire a fuchsia in a very nice garden just across the road..


…and then we had a refreshment with them in a small cafe at the end of the street before Tony and Marianne went off to their new home across the Forth and we walked down to Meet Al, Clare and Matilda at the site of their new house.

Passing this church on the way.


I like its sober but mildly decorative style.

It had rained heavily while we were in the cafe, but it had stopped before we walked down to meet Al and Clare

Their new house is still in the process of being built and they had an appointment with the builder’s representatives at the show house on the site to choose styles and colours and surfaces.  While they did that, we went shopping with Matilda and then played hide and seek and ‘Grandmother’s Footsteps’ in the show house garden while the discussions went on.

Their car was too small for all five of us so Al and I took the bus while the ladies drove to where the family are staying while their old house is being prepared for viewing.

While we waited for the bus, I looked at the top of Arthur’s Seat just to give the camera zoom some exercise….


And admired this decorative item on the roof of the church which I had photographed earlier.


The view from the top deck of the bus as Al and I went down the hill on Hanover Street is one of the things that makes Edinburgh so special.


The view from the bus as Mrs Tootlepedal and I went back up the hill to the station after an excellent meal, is pretty good too.


It was a lovely evening by this time.

The train and car journey home went very smoothly and we ended up tired but happy.

No flying bird today but a rose of the day beside the door of the house where Matilda is temporarily lodging.


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Today’s guest pictures come from my daughter Annie.  She looked on the internet for advice on camera settings, used her tripod and, over the space of an hour, took much better pictures of the lunar eclipse than I did.  Click on the picture for an expanded look at it.

lunar eclipse annieWe had yet another fine, calm day today and although I couldn’t use it for cycling, we did make good use of it by going to Edinburgh to see Matilda by a new route.

Instead of going to Lockerbie and catching the train there, we went to Tweedbank and caught a train on the brand new Borders Railway service on the recently re-opened section of the Waverley Line.  The 40 mile drive up to Galashiels was a treat in itself as we set off on one of those mornings when the early mists were just lifting and the hills looked at their best.

The train was pretty full but we got seats and enjoyed going smoothly up the railway line looking at the winding main road beside it instead of going slowly up the winding main road as we have in past months and looking at the line under construction.

When we got to Edinburgh, the weather was just as fine as it was in Langholm.

Calton HillMatilda was in good form, looking shyly at her grandpa from her granny’s lap…..

Matilda…and enjoying a joke with her mother while writing to the newspapers…..

Matilda…or to be more precise, writing on my newspaper.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I took her for a short walk…

walking matilda

This is Walking Matilda….is there a hint of a song there?

…but all too soon it was time to leave to catch the train home.

We arrived back in Tweedbank on time and I took a picture from the commodious car park to show that however much money they have spent on reviving the railway line, no money has been wasted on the terminal station.

TweedbankIt consists of a platform, a bus shelter and nothing else.

The drive home was as sunny and scenic as the drive out but Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that she will return to using the Lockerbie route when she next goes to Edinburgh because it needs a lot less time spent driving as the station is only 18 miles away from us and the train goes a lot quicker so the trip takes the same time.

When we got home, there was just enough light left to catch a passing poppy….

poppy…and a cheerful phlox.

phloxThen there was time for a light meal before Susan arrived to drive me off to Carlisle and a meeting of our recorder group.  One of our group has taken up the clarinet and has joined an amateur orchestra which meets fortnightly on a Tuesday so tonight there were only four of us.  We had an excellent evening of playing with the highlight being a Bach Motet.  It is a great privilege as well as a pleasure to have friends with whom it is possible to enjoy playing such good music.

The flying bird of the day had unfortunately landed before I could press my shutter finger.


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Today’s guest picture comes from my younger son Al and shows Matilda’s reaction on being told that granny and grandpa were coming to visit soon.

MatildaThe business of the day was a drive to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.  Mrs Tootlepedal is still coughing quite a bit, which is tiring for her, but was otherwise well enough for the trip.  We drove to Edinburgh rather than taking the train because curiously enough we wanted to see a railway line.

They are rebuilding the old Waverley Line from Edinburgh through the borders as far as Galashiels and for a large part of its route it runs along the A7 so we were able to see the progress that has been made.  The nearly all the embankments, bridges and tunnels all seem to be in place and the extensive construction team is in the process of laying the rails and putting in the ballast.

It would have been nice to stop and take some pictures but the trip to Edinburgh takes long enough without stopping and as we were in a steady stream of traffic, it would have been necessary to leave the road to find a safe parking spot and then walk back.  I will make a special trip sometime in the new year.

The drive north itself was a treat with low mist coming and going over the hills and valleys in the sunshine and once again I wished that I had had the time (and the camera with me) to stop and stare.

But we pressed on and arrived just in time for me to go for a walk with Matilda and her father.  It was a grey day in Edinburgh and we were all well wrapped up.

MatildaThe purpose of the walk was to persuade Matilda to have a little sleep and she obligingly dropped off as we walked a circuit of the neighbourhood.   Edinburgh is full of grand buildings.

Leith Walk

On Leith walk

Even the wine merchants have a little Greek pillar work above the shop.

Leith WalkAnd the street names are engraved and coloured.  Why they thought that they needed another sign is not clear.  perhaps they loved Montgomery Street so much, they named it twice.

Montgomery StreetYou are living in a slum round here if you don’t have a few column inches outside your front door.

London RoadAnd every Tom, Dick and Harry has a pediment.

Easter RoadWe wanted to keep Matilda napping so when we we had completed our circuit, we walked past the road end and along as far as Meadowbank Stadium.

MeadowbankI liked their clear use of the alphabet to mark gates for the spectators but was puzzled by this section….

MeadowbankWas it for spectators who hadn’t progressed well in the reading class at school?

As we walked back, we could see Arthur’s Seat looming over an impressively tall terrace of typical Edinburgh houses.

Arthur's SeatAlistair told me that the leaves had fallen overnight from the trees lining the streets and judging by this street near the stadium….

leaves in edinburgh…he was quite right.  Edinburgh is a douce town and even the leaves are well behaved there and fall in neat lines..

Once home and woken up, Matilda tried on a fetching bonnet that her granny had knitted for her.

Matilda's bonnetJudgement is reserved.

Al and Mrs Tootlepedal went out to fetch some tasty Italian snacks for our lunch and we were visited by Matilda’s aunt before we set off for another walk up to the centre of town to make a purchase at Argos.  Matilda is literally a heavy responsibility,  being already the size and weight of an average one year old  and this is taking its toll on her parents’ backs so the trip was to purchase a comfortable mattress topping to help them sleep better.  I hope it works.

By the time we got home, it dark and we were soon back in our car and heading back to Langholm.  The traffic was very heavy but we still got back slightly quicker than we would have by train.  All the same, although it is a bit quicker, driving feels much longer and I think we will be back on the train for our next visit.

No time for a flying bird of the day today.

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