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Posts Tagged ‘Brow Well’

Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to the Taunton Flower show.  They really know how to enjoy a good time there.

Taunton flower show

Unfortunately, Sandy’s new bike did not arrive on schedule so with nothing better to do, I set out on a solo ride, hoping that the good weather that had greeted the day would last.

There was plenty of evidence of the wet weather of the weekend to be seen as I left the town.  Above the Auld Stane Bridge, trees were scattered casually around, high on the river bank…

washed up trees auld stane brig

…and a mile or two further along the road, I had to stop at a traffic light to get past this landslide.

landslip wauchope road

We seem to have had the worst of the flooding though because after that the roads were dry and clear.

At least they were dry until I got caught in a rain shower which started at ten miles and lasted for the next three miles.  I was fairly confident that it wouldn’t last long and was able to look back it from a sunny spot before I got too wet.

clouds behind me

I had a good rain jacket with me and since I was wearing shorts and my legs are pretty waterproof, I was able to take a little rain without crying.

This was lucky, because after passing the ex nuclear power station at Chaplecross where the demolition continues at a snails pace (unsurprisingly)…

chapelcross demolition

…I encountered another rain shower at twenty miles and this too lasted for three miles.

The rain had stopped by the time that I got to Powfoot, a little village on the shore of the Solway Firth, but another shower was hiding England from sight on the far shore.

solway with england obscured

The contrast couldn’t have been more clear; gloom in England and sunshine in Scotland.

white row powfoot

Looking further down the firth, I could see another shower on our side but I decided to pedal on anyway.

next rainstorm solway

There has been a lot of verge mowing so I didn’t see many wild flowers but I liked this one on the shore at Powfoot.

wild flower powfoot

Since I had encountered rain at ten and twenty miles, I was fully expecting to meet some more at thirty miles but although I passed some large puddles in fields…

large puddle near ruthwell

The verges here were thick with Himalayan balsam

…the sun was still shining as I got to my turning point at the Brow Well, famous as a place where Robert Burns came to drink the waters shortly before his death.

brow well

I didn’t drink the waters but I did stop on the handy bench and ate an egg roll.  I needed the sit down as I had been cycling into the noticeable wind for thirty miles by this time.

I had taken the back road out but took the inland road back.  This involved crossing under the Annan to Dumfries railway a couple of times.

railway bridge near powfoot

With the wind behind me and the sun shining, I whistled along the road through Annan pretty cheerfully.  I stopped for a banana near Eastriggs, and some of my good cheer evaporated when I turned my head to the left and looked across the fields.

rainstorm off eastriggs

Still, the rain was on my left and the wind was coming from the right and behind so I reckoned that the clouds would be blown away safely.

However, I must have cycled too fast and the road must have changed direction a bit because when I got to Longtown, the heavens opened and in seconds the road was awash.  As I was on the main road by this time, I wasn’t only getting rained on from above, but I was getting a good soaking from the passing traffic as well.  I therefore decided to turn off and take the slightly longer but much quieter route through Canonbie, and in spite of having to pedal through a large puddle on my way, this was a good choice.

large puddle north lodge canonbie

It became an even better choice when the next shower turned out to consist of hail stones which gave me such a good pinging that I was forced to take shelter under the trees at Byreburnfoot.  I would have been very exposed on the main road.

I got going again when the hail turned to rain and rode the five miles home in a series of fitful showers which rather annoyingly stopped as soon as I got to Langholm.

My jacket stood up to the weather very well and I arrived home relatively dry and quite cheerful.  Riding through the rain had been quite tiring though, so I was very glad of the cup of tea that Mrs Tootlepedal made for me.

I had a walk round the garden in the sunshine after my cuppa and enjoyed a fine sunflower in the back bed.

sunflower back bed

We both like the pure white flowers on this hosta.

white hosta flowers

There was quite racket of birds in the garden, most of it coming from starlings perched on our new electricity wires.

convocation of starlings

The loudest of them all though was a lone starling sitting on top of the holly tree. Perhaps it was complaining about the prickles.

starling on holly

I was standing on the lawn looking at the starlings when I was nudged out of the way by this blackbird hunting for worms.

close blackbird

I gave way gracefully and went in, passing a rare unnibbled dahlia on the way.

good dahlia

Because of the rain, my feet had got a bit cold and my legs had got a bit stiff so I retired for a hot bath before our evening meal.  This was a feast of vegetarian sausages accompanied by peas, runner beans, carrots, courgette and new potatoes all from the garden.

The temperatures have dropped a lot now and there was distinctly autumnal feel about the morning and the garden is beginning to lose its summer glow.

One of the starlings on the wire rose to the occasion and is the flying bird of the day.

flying starling

Curious readers may find out more about my very slow pedal by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 13 Aug 2019

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Today’s guest picture, sent to me by my friend Bruce, shows that Langholm has two experienced hole inspectors.  Here the results of recent heavy rain were under examination.

hole inspector

The wind had finally exhausted itself and we woke to a picture perfect day.  Well, nearly picture perfect as there were signs of frost in the garden but things warmed up slowly and I waited for the thermometer to reach 5°C  before setting out on a bike ride.

I had time for a glance out of the window.  Some birds tucked into the seed…

chaffinch and siskin

…and some birds wasted time quarrelling.

chaffinch and siskin

The thermometer came up to the required point exactly at the time that I might have been eating the treacle scones that Dropscone had offered to bring round but there are some days that are just so made for cycling that even a treacle scone has to give way and in the end, in spite of pangs, I didn’t regret my decision.

It is my plan (for as long as possible) to do at least one ride each year that contains as many miles as I have years.  My birthday is in November when the days are too short for long rides at the pace which I can sustain so I have to wait for a good day in spring.  This was that day and I set out with 75 miles as my target.  To help me reach this target, I chose an easy route that ran through the flat lands along the Solway shore…

Flat lands

…although, as the elevation for the route shows…

garmin route 24 March 2017 elevation

….you always have to climb a little to leave the town if you don’t go down the main road south and if you go down to the sea, you always have to climb a little to get home again.

Generally speaking though, my ride was undemanding and delightfully windless.

Although the verges are not full of wild flowers yet, the celandines are doing their best and in places they are quite spectacular.

celandines

I did put in a little climb before I got to Annan to avoid having to go right through the town and this took me up past the nuclear power station at Chapelcross, which is being very slowly dismantled.

Chapelcross

In considering the mental gymnastics that politicians must go through when they wonder if their policies are at all consistent, I think that saying that we must have financial austerity because we don’t want to leave debts for our children to repay and being enthusiastic supporters of nuclear energy, which will require several generations of our children to keep on and on paying for decommissioning of reactors and storage of toxic waste for an energy source from which they will not have had any energy is a bit confusing.

I put this thought out of my mind and enjoyed the hill back down into Annan.

After Annan, I was cycling along the shores of the Solway for all but the last 14 miles of my journey and although the country through which I was pedalling is not very exciting, the view across the Solway was very rewarding.

Lake District snowy hills

I was more intent on cycling than taking pictures today but I did stop from time to time for a breather and tried to choose an interesting spot.

This is the bridge over the Lochar Water at Bankend….

Lochar Water

…and this is the ruined tower a little upstream.

Lochar Water

A mile or two further on, I came upon Caerlaverock Castle, an altogether better class of ruin.

Caerlaverock castle

I didn’t visit it, although it has a tearoom, because there is a cheaper tearoom with better food (in my experience) at the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust nearby so I went to that for my lunch.

Fortified by a very well cooked baked potato and an apple slice, I set off home.

Once again my plan was to stop at regular intervals for a breather and my first stop this time was at the Brow Well

Brow Well

…which used to be used as a source of allegedly therapeutic drinks for invalids.  It is a chalybeate spring, meaning that the water that dribbles from the spout low on one side contains significant concentrations of iron salts.  It is chiefly famous for helping to finish off the poet Robert Burns who was sent there just before his death.   They wisely don’t let the water accumulate in it now.  I like the little bridge beside the well.

The poet was also made to bathe in the Solway so I went to have a look but the Solway was out and nowhere to be seen and I contented myself with snapping an unusually creamy brown lichen and a thriving gorse bush…

brow well lichen and gorse

…before pedalling on.

My route took me past a field with a nice comparison of horse sizes…

powfoot horses

…and a small flock of what I take to be alpacas…

powfoot alpacas

….and then down to the shore at Powfoot.

The sea was still out but there was some very nice shining mud.

Solway mud

…and the Lake District on the far shore was still looking wonderful.

Lake District

I pressed on through Annan and got to Gretna just as the cafe in which I was hoping to get a cup of tea and a fancy cake, closed for the day.

I ate half a banana and some dates and sulked.

My next stop was to admire the church at Canonbie, which was looking at its best in the evening sun.

Canonbie Church

Although, I was quite perky, my bike was a bit tired so I gave it a last rest near Irving House and while it snoozed, I offered up some suitable thanks for a brilliant cycling day at the small sacred grove nearby.

Irvine House

When I got back to the town, I looked down at my bike computer and was suddenly overcome by decimal fever so I did a gratuitous tour of the New Town to bring my mileage exactly up to eighty miles.  This was more than satisfactory.

Mrs Tootlepedal had spent the day painting the bathroom door and doing a lot of gardening so we were both tired but happy.

More good weather is forecast for tomorrow.

I caught a flying bird before I left.

goldfinch and siksin

For those interested in these things, details of my ride can be found by clicking on the map below.   Thanks to the benign conditions, I did the eighty miles at a better average speed than I did the twenty miles in the wind yesterday.

garmin route 24 March 2017

It was cold at the start but much warmer by the end.

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Today’s guest picture is another from my siblings recent visit to the Lake District.  Mary managed to capture this lovely shot of Ullswater out of the car window.

Evening light, Ullswater

One of my little plans is to have at least one cycle ride every year in which the number of miles equals or exceeds my age (and to keep doing this for as long as possible). The mathematically minded among you will realise that this will become a greater challenge as the years go by but as I am a mere 74 at the moment, it is not a great problem.

Today seemed like a good day to get it out of the way for this year as the forecast promised dry conditions with occasional sunshine and a light wind in my face on the way to my outward destination.  In addition, the wind was to get up a bit about the time that I would turn for home and blow me back so everything looked ideal.

Often reality does not meet with expectation but today it did.

I set out with the intention of reaching the cafe at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Caerlaverock in nice time for lunch and I arrived just after one o’clock.  Even a lightish wind makes for hard going on the exposed road along the Solway shore so I was quite ready for soup and a hot pie when I got there.

I had stopped on my way to catch an unexpected outburst of blackthorn blossom among some gorse near Gretna…

blackthorn and gorse

…and the bridge at Bankend.

Bankend Bridge

There was a very pretty view upstream from the bridge and the sharp eyed will notice a ruined peel tower in the distance.

Bankend Bridge

My last stop, just before lunch, was to admire some very hefty birch polypores beside the road.

polypores

I didn’t linger long after my lunch and was soon on my way home.  The road from the WWT was lined with wild flowers.

celandine

I made good progress with a more friendly wind and was a bit reluctant to stop for photo ops but the scene at the Brow Well was too good to miss.

The Brow Well is a stop on the Burns trail, as he came here to bathe in the waters shortly before his death. (Some experts feel that the waters may have helped to kill him.)

The last time that I went past it looked like this

Brow Well

The paving is modern!

Today, it looked a bit different.

brow well

I think that it is fair to say that there was a very high tide.  It was nearly up to the road.

brow well

I have passed this spot many times both on a bike and in a car and have never seen the tide this high before.

It was still quite high when I crossed the River Annan as I came into the town some time later.

River Annan

My last stop was for a banana on the international bridge over the Sark at Gretna.  I looked over the seaward parapet and was delighted to see an unexpected blackthorn in full blossom beside the river.

blackthorn at Gretna

From then on, it was full steam ahead for home and I just managed to squeeze the average speed up to 14 mph for the 78 mile ride, thanks to the kindly wind.  My distance calculations were a bit out but the extra four miles didn’t hurt too much at all.

As an additional bonus, the ride took me over 1000 miles for the year.  I should have hot this target on 31 March but being only eight days late is not too bad considering the terrible weather in January.

Those interested may click on the map below for more details

garmin route 8 April 2016

The website is wrong about the rain and the wind

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I arrived home so I joined her for a stroll round the policies.

tulips

Tulip anticipation is at fever pitch.

More flowers are growing every day.

primulas

These primulas will soon be fully out

And old friends are looking better all the time.

primula, hyacinth and fritillary

But mostly, Mrs Tootlepedal is saying it with daffodils.

daffodils

On a big scale

daffodils

In small bunches

daffodils

And sometimes so discreetly hidden between box ball and hedge that only the privileged few can glimpse them.

I did have time for a sit and look out of the window where I saw a wood pigeon auditioning for the role of Mr Grumpy should it become vacant.

wood pigeon

Some loud quacking drew me back out of the house and I saw our resident pair of ducks beside the dam.

dam ducks

Feeling unaccountably tired, I went for a bath while Mrs Tootlepedal kindly cooked my tea and I was recovered enough to play some enjoyable music with Alison Tinker when she and Mike came round for their customary Friday visit.

Mrs Tootlepedal was feeling very cheerful today as not only had she framed some very nice Matilda pictures and hung them on the wall but she had also been granted access to a very fine manure mine.  It is on hard standing and she can back the car right up to the heap which avoids any double handling.  She can hardly wait to visit it.

In all the excitement of the day, I didn’t have much time to look for a flying bird so I was grateful to a chaffinch for turning back and doing its best to get into the shot.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Bruce who has been up in the north.  It shows a tribute to Tim Baillie a canoeing gold medallist in the last Olympic Games.  It was put up by the Westhill Rotary Club.  Some research tells me that this gold medal came as a bit of a surprise, not least to the gold medallist himself.

Tim BaillieThe main business of the day today was getting aback on the bike after quite a few days of idleness.  The forecast assured me that it wouldn’t rain and that there wouldn’t be any gale.  It was too good and opportunity to miss.

I had forgotten to charge my phone so I had an hour to do the crossword and look at birds before I set out.

Goldfinch

Goldfinches are very pretty birds. You can see why people kept than as caged birds in time gone by.

I have been feeling a little on the creaky side lately so I started off with some diffidence.  This feeling of uncertainly was exacerbated by the new gravel surfacing which I encountered on the Wauchope road.  It was inches deep and very tricky when I first hit it but it shortly levelled off and as it only lasted for about a mile, I was soon past it.

In spite of it being June and sunny, the day was still remarkably cold and I was glad to have a couple of layers on to keep me warm.  In the absence of the gales of the last two days, there was a steady breeze in my face and winds gusting to 20 miles an hour made sure that I didn’t get above myself.

I hadn’t got a strong view of where I was going but the wind seemed bearable and the cycling soon eased the creaks out of my system so I set myself a target of at least 50 miles.

garmin 3 Jun 2015I chose a route that would avoid any back roads that might have had the gravel treatment as well as any major hills.

As I cycled along, feeling rather chilly in the wind, I considered the old saying, “Ne’er cast a clout till may is out.”

It certainly didn’t seem like a good time to cast a clout (take off one’s winter clothing) even though the month of May is past.  On the other hand, I hadn’t seen any hawthorn or may blossom out on my travels.  I looked up the saying on the internet when I got home and was able to find any number of sites which confidently declared that the saying relates to the month of May and an equal number confidently stating that it refers to the flower.

As it happened, when I got near Brydekirk, I found a good show of flowering hawthorn…

Hawthorn…so May is past and the may is out….but I am still not casting a clout until it is a lot warmer.

I enjoyed this view of a river of plastic beside the real thing as I crossed over the Water of Mein.

plastic in fieldThere is a lot of this plastic about as farmers use it to grow maize as fodder for their animals.

The verges are getting more cheerful.

Near Ecclefechan

Wild flowers (and the obligatory pylon) near Eccelfechan.

buttercups

A field of golden buttercups (with overhead wires)

I paused for a banana in Brydekirk on the banks of the River Annan….

Brydekirk Bridge…and then bypassed the town of Annan and pedalled past the first savings bank in Scotland in the tiny village of Ruthwell (it is now a museum) until I got to the Brow Well where I stopped for lunch.

The Brow Well  is a chalybeate spring, meaning that the water that dribbles from the spout low on one side contains significant concentrations of iron salts.  It was supposed to be good for your health to drink it although it didn’t do the poet Robert Burns much good when he tried the waters shortly before his death.   It is not a beautiful spot…

Brow Well

The paving is modern!

…and there is no water in it to drink even if you wanted to.  It stands close to the Solway shore….

Solway shore

Looking across the Nith estuary to Criffel

…but it was chilly and charmless in the brisk wind today so I ate my jam sandwiches swiftly and pedalled back to Annan.

With the wind behind now and with flat roads almost all the way, the journey back to Langholm was a breeze and a final loop round the New Town brought me exactly to 60 miles.  Those with time hanging heavy on their hands can find details of the ride here.

In spite of the rather grey look in my pictures, it was mostly a sunny ride and I enjoyed it until the last five miles, when I received a stiff letter of complaint from both my knees.

Mrs Tootlepedal had spent a busy day in the garden and was ready for a cup of tea when I got home.  Refreshed by a cuppa, I had enough energy left to mow the drying green and the paths in the front lawn before walking round the garden, camera in hand.

There is more colour every day.  This is the back path again seen from the other end.

back pathThe Japanese azalea has been out for ages but the others are joining in bud by bud.

azaleasTwo new rhododendrons are adding colour to the picture….

rhododendron…but the first one to come out is still the most beautiful.

rhododendronFollowing the pink/red theme, Mrs Tootlepedal recently bought a pink strawberry and the first of the astrantias is looking potential.

strawberry and astrantiaThe benches have offered useful shelter from wind and rain and Welsh poppies are growing though one, with aquilegias popping up though another.

welsh poppiesaquilegiaFortunately, Andy Murray was playing tennis in Paris and as it was being shown on the free to view telly, this gave us both an excuse to have a good sit down while we watched him battle through his match.

There were advertising breaks so I had time for the occasional look out of the kitchen window.  There were no starlings at this time of day today sadly.

greenfinch

A greenfinch head butted the upright pole in frustration when Andy lost the third set.

flying birds

Something set the birds off. I don’t usually get five flying birds in one shot.

The evening was our own as Langholm Sings have ended their practices for the season after our concerts and we made good use of it by having a late evening meal after the tennis and doing nothing at all thereafter.

I am looking forward to seeing how my creaky joints feel tomorrow.  We are promised another reasonably fine day which will be good…if it actually happens.

The (only just) flying bird of the day is a siskin.

siskin

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