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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who started a nine mile walk today by crossing the River Manifold over this handsome bridge.

Manifold Bridge

We had a lovely day here as well but it was decidedly chilly at first so it took me some time to get going on my bike.

I checked on the buddleia after breakfast….

Three butterflies

Mixed sunbathing for two peacocks and a small tortoiseshell

…and I was just in time to take a gift of eggs from Scott, the minister (but not offer him coffee in return) just before I set off.

I was slightly nervous about how my legs would be feeling after the slow and arduous effort on Wednesday but a day visiting Matilda had worked wonders and they were in a cooperative mood today.  I took care not to upset them by going up any steep hills.

I hadn’t gone far before I noticed two buzzards which were very agitated about something and circled around above my head crying out loudly.

One hovered long enough for me to take a picture.

buzzard

I rode past banks of rosebay willowherb seed heads as I went along…

rosebay seeds

…and was impressed by the fact that the wind hadn’t dislodged them yet.

I rolled down out of the hills and into Gretna where I saw a wedding party get ready to attend their ceremony at the ‘Famous Blacksmith’s Shop’.

Gretna wedding

They avoided getting run over.

I continued down into England, passing churches with steeples and square towers.

Rockcliffe Church

Rockcliffe

Scaleby Church

Scaleby

The church at Scaleby had a shiny new padlock on the door and warning notices from the police.  Not the most welcoming of sights.

I turned off at Scaleby and followed this unassuming road.

new road to Smithfield

It was a moment to note for me though, as it was one of the few roads in the area that I had never cycled along before.

Thanks to my perky legs, I didn’t need to stop for many breathers so there are fewer pictures today and  this picture of the welcoming sight of the monument on Whita Hill is the only one that I took in the last fifteen miles.

Whita

The jaunt was almost exactly 50 miles and this took me over 3000 miles for the year so it was a satisfactory ride both for itself and statistically.  It also brought up 565 miles for the month, my biggest monthly tally for four years.  It is amazing what some good weather will do.

When I got home, I did a bit of bird watching….

goldfinch

The single goldfinch soon got swept away by an incoming tide of sparrows.

sparrow melee

…and then I had a look around the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.

She spotted a ladybird…

ladybird

…and I spotted a small tortoiseshell stretching its wings….

small tortoiseshell butterfly

…and then I spotted it again!

small tortoiseshell butterfly 2

Among the more flashy flowers, the feverfew sparkles away quite modestly…

feverfew

…but persistently.

And Mrs Tootlepedal’s new cosmos, which is improbably called ‘Double Click Cranberries’ raised its head to the sun.

cosmos

I cut down the head of the giant sunflower and put it out for the birds…

sunflower head

…and picked up one of the fallen flower heads and rested it on my knee.

sunflower flower

My neighbour Liz was trimming her cherry tree and the job seemed to call for a tall person so I went across to give her a hand and ended up with a good collection of branches for shredding and adding to our compost heap.

I had a relaxing bath and came downstairs to a delicious evening meal prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal, the highlight of which was an enormous courgette fritter.

It took some time to recover from this but I was back in good order by the time that Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday evening visit.  Alison and I were playing early music in the French style and had  a hard working and enjoyable time getting to grips with some tricky pieces.

It was a good way to spend the last day of summer.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow, putting down the landing gear.

flying sparrow

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone, who has recently been playing golf in Girona in Spain.  Clearly, there was no rain in Spain while he was there.

Spain

There was no rain here today either but not quite as much sun as Dropscone has been enjoying.

I had to take the car to the garage early in the morning to get its brakes fixed.  The view from the suspension bridge as I walked back was a marked contrast with yesterday’s mist.

View from suspension bridge in autumn

It was a little chilly when I got home so I dawdled about and had a cup of coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal before finally setting off to make the most of a good day.

I had a bit of a moan after my ride on Sunday about losing speed on my cycle runs thanks to increasing age.   Many well intentioned readers advised me to stop moaning, live with the years and just enjoy cycling and taking pictures without bothering about average speeds.

I always take good advice so I pottered about today for the first twenty five miles and took many pictures on my ride.  Of course, it may have been the brisk wind in my face rather than the sheer enjoyment of going slowly that made me take so long but I was very content to stop and take pictures as I went.

I should say that I had a bit of time on my hands in the evening and some of the photographs from the ride may have been enhanced by the use of filters.   I don’t usually do much of this but the light was rather flat today and the pictures came out as less attractive than they were in real life.  I may have gone a bit further than real life with some of them.

Churches were my first subjects.

Johnstone Church

The Johnstone UP Church, Ecclefechan

This very fine set of hinges caught my eye as I turned onto the road to Hoddom in Ecclefechan.

Not far away, I came to the ruins of the church at Hoddom Cross.

Hoddom Cross

The church was destroyed by fire in 1975 and stands as a picturesque ruin in a graveyard that is still in use.  In the old part of the kirkyard, I found an ivy covered mausoleum.

Hoddom Cross church

The ivy is covered in flowers and will be of great interest to bees when the flowers come out.

My interest turned from churches to bridges and I went under an unusual one as I cycled on towards the River Annan….

Tree Bridge near Hoddom

…followed by something more traditional when I got to the river.

Hoddom Bridge

I cannot find out when this bridge was built but it is obviously of some age and has lasted very well considering that….

Hoddom Bridge

…things like this go over it every day.

I crossed the Annan using the bridge myself  and cycled down towards Brydekirk, where I crossed back over the river.

River Annan bridge at Brydekirk

This bridge was built in about 1800 and is one of several fine bridges that cross the River Annan.

Not far from the bridge, I came across a splendid gateway to a fine house.

Near Brydekirk

No filters were used on this picture. It really did look like this.

I turned off the road from the bridge onto a side road.  I had hoped that a beech hedge along this road would be worth a look but it was disappointingly green still…

Brydekirk road

…but the hedge did serve the useful purpose of sheltering me from the brisk cross wind along this stretch.

Once I had turned left when I met the road from Annan to Eaglesfield, I had the wind behind me and I did the next fifteen miles in 55 minutes of cycling time without having to try very hard at all.

I did stop on the way to admire a different kind of bridge though.

Kirtlebridge Viaduct

The viaduct carrying the West Coast main line crosses the valley of the Kirtle water….

Kirtlebridge Viaduct

…which I crossed on a more modest bridge.

Kirtle bridge

I had crossed the Kirtle Water near its source much earlier in my trip and I had now crossed both the Kirtle Water and the River Annan twice.

I felt the need for some refuelling so I headed down the old main road from Kirtlebridge to Gretna where I stopped for egg and chips at the Old Toll Bar.   A couple of raindrops landed on my head as I left the cafe and nearly made me regret my stop there but it was only a couple and the rest of my ride was dry and easy with the encouraging wind giving me a friendly push and keeping me going.

I went home by way of Longtown and Canonbie, meaning that I was following the course of the River Esk now and before I got home, I had crossed the Esk no less than six times.

The Esk was looking quite autumnal when I stopped at Byreburnfoot.

Byreburnfoot River Esk

And at my feet as I took the picture was a good crop of fungus which grows out of a patch of grass beside the road.

fungus at Byreburnfoot

I stopped as I crossed Skippers Bridge to note the contrast with yesterday’s misty shots.

Langholm Distillery in autumn

When I got to the town centre, I found that I had done 47 miles and I was seized with decimal fever and pedalled on through Langholm and out the other side, crossing the High Mill bridge and going half a mile up the road beyond it.

There I turned for home and having crossed the Canonbie, Hollows, Skippers and High Mill Bridges already, I crossed the High Mill bridge again and finished by crossing the Langholm Bridge which joins the Old and New Towns of Langholm.

While I was crossing rivers. Mrs Tootlepedal had been immersed in canals as she had been in the Buccleuch Centre at a screening of a film of the current Canaletto exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace.

It was hard to say which of us had had the better time.

There was enough time left in the day for Mrs Tootlepedal to do some gardening and for me to collect the car, mow the middle lawn and take a flower picture or two.

October daisies

Mrs Tootlepedal has borrowed one or two of the thousands of October daisies from the river bank which appeared in yesterday’s post and they have settled in very well in our garden.

perennial nasturtium

The perennial nasturtium or tropaeolum is still flowering

Japanese anemone

The bees seem to have discovered the Japanese anemone

red admiral butterfly

The red admiral butterflies keep coming.

Before the screening, Mrs Tootlepedal had been helping in the cafe in Buccleuch Centre over a very busy lunch time so we didn’t spend too long in the garden and retired inside for a well earned rest and a nourishing evening meal.

The good weather is not going to last and we are promised heavy rain overnight and tomorrow morning so I am glad to have got some miles in while the going was good.  My moaning and the subsequent good advice which I received seems to have purged my cycling melancholy and I really enjoyed today’s pedal.

The flying bird of the day is two of our more delicate poppies.

two poppies

Anyone interested in the details of the ride can click on the map below.

Garmin route 10 Oct 2107

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from a visit my sister Mary paid to Queen Mary’s Garden in Regent’s Park.  She seems to find good weather for her visits to the park.

Queen Mary's Garden, Regent's Park

I have been a bit wimpish lately about cycling in brisk winds so I made a plan to get up promptly this morning and to get dressed straight into my cycling gear, thinking that I would be too embarrassed not to go cycling even if it was windy.

This plan worked quite well,  though not quite as promptly as I had hoped but all the same, by the time that Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off to sing with the church choir, I was ready to go out on the fairly speedy bike.

The second part of my plan involved a change of my usual tactics.  On a windy day, I try to choose a route that will leave me with the wind behind me for my return home.  The trouble with this plan, which seems quite plausible on the surface, is that it means starting my cycle outing by heading into a brisk wind and this can be discouraging and often ends up with a shorter trip than I would have liked.

Today, therefore,  I decided to start off downwind and this resulted in my doing the first 20 miles at 16 mph and feeling open to adding quite a few miles of the rest of the trip.

On my way along the Canonbie by-pass as I went from the Hagg to the Hollows, I noticed a large number of orchids so I stopped to have a look.

canonbie by pass orchids

I must have seen at least a hundred over the whole length of the by-pass.

My next stop was to look at the River Lyne as I crossed the bridge south of Longtown.

River Lyne

I often stop to look at this view as I like its peaceful nature and while I was there today, I went down to the river side and looked up at the bridge.  I saw something which I must have seen before but never noticed, if you understand what I mean.

Lyne Bridge

At some stage this bridge has either been drastically widened or undergone a major repair.  I was a bit alarmed to see so much driftwood resting against the pier of the bridge.

I stopped for a banana and a date while my bicycle had a rest beside its favourite bench at Newtown after 20 miles.

Newtown bench

Very often on a Sunday, this is my turning point and I head for home to complete a fairly easy 40 mile run but today, after such an enjoyable whistle down the wind, I took a more extensive route home through Irthington….

Irthington Church

…which has a nice church and then onto Carlisle.

I passed a couple of fine buildings.

Newby Grange and Rickerby

It was my plan to go through Rickerby Park and cross the footbridge over the River Eden but when I got there, I found that the bridge was closed so I took a look at the river near the bridge…

River Eden

…and cycled into the centre of Carlisle and crossed the river on the road bridge before dropping down into Bitts Park.  This route is very popular with walkers as it is part of the Hadrians Wall walking route.  You can’t see any sign of the Roman Wall here so I had to make do with the impressive walls of Carlisle Castle…

Carlisle castle

…past which I cycled.

I decided to take the National Cycle Route 7 from Carlisle to Dalston, an off road but well surfaced track which follows the River Petteril…..

River Peterril

A caul which I think provided a lade for a mill beside the river.

…and the railway out of the city.

At Dalston, I bought some extra bananas and sat on the grass for a while to plan my route home.

The wind was coming from the north west and I wanted to go north so I chose a route which tacked into the wind, giving frequent sections where the wind helped me for a while and the process of getting home was not too painful at all.

I passed through Great Orton and admired one of my favourite churches….

Great Orton Church

Built in 1098….the porch added later….much later.

….and then wiggled my way round the Carlisle Northern by-pass until I got near to Rockliffe.  When I looked over the fields, I could see the spire of Rockliffe Church and the River Eden, tidal at this point, looking very full indeed.

View of Rockcliffe

River on the left, spire on the right

I thought that the  river might make a good photograph so when I got to the village, I cycled down the path beside the church only to find….

Rockcliffe flood

…that the tide was so far in that my way was impassable without getting wet feet.

I didn’t fancy soggy socks so I chose a different route and headed for Gretna up the service road.

This road runs right beside the fairly new section of motorway and when they built the motorway and the service road, they didn’t stint on planting wild flowers and what might have been a utilitarian section of road is a delight…

Gretna Motorway

Gretna Motorway

…with plenty to please the eye.

My zigzagging was going so well that I did one last zigzag from Gretna to Kirkpatrick Fleming and ended up going up the A7 on the cycle route.  I had leisure enough to stop there for one last wild flower view…

Auchenrivock flowers

…before completing a 75 mile trip and arriving home really pleased with my plan for the day.

Those interested may click on the map below for more details.

garmin route 25 June 2017

The temperature was ideal for cycling, there was enough occasional cloud to moderate the heat of the sun and as you can see, there was no serious climbing at all.  Good route choice.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy all afternoon in the garden so I had a walk round with her when I got back.  Naturally I took a few pictures.

The Queen of Denmark was looking good.

Queen of Denmark

As were the delphiniums, which have withstood the winds very well this year.  Mrs Tootlepedal gave them early support.

delphiniums

We came across a very curious sight deep in a flower bed…..

cat in flowers

…which turned out to be the back end of a neighbour’s cat having a snooze.  It gave us a scornful look and tucked back in under the leaves.

I liked this…

euphorbia

…which Mrs Tootlepedal tells me is a Euphorbia (an Euphorbia?) which we bought earlier this year.

There are still Dutch irises coming out and the first of the Calendulas have appeared…

calendula and iris

…so we are not short of colour.

And the bees were coming in numbers onto the astrantia.

bee on astrantia

I thought it was only appropriate to take a picture of Special Grandma in honour of the gardener.

special Grandma

I made a sausage stew for my supper and cooked three little beetroots which have been picked as thinnings.  Both turned out well and that rounded off a day strictly on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

While I was in the garden, I met a young blackbird on the lawn.  It is the non flying bird of the day.

blackbird

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Fiona, my Newcastle correspondent.  She is on a family meander around the Highlands and sent me this picture of the village of Penman where they are staying.  The village will be familiar to anyone who has seen the film ‘Local Hero’.

Penman

The forecast was quite right and we had a wonderfully sunny day today with the added bonus that it was not too hot for most of the time.  Perfect.

I had big plans for the day which would begin with a visit to fill the Moorland feeders as the regular Wednesday feeder fillers were off to Edinburgh, followed by an interesting time in the bird hide getting great woodpecker pictures.

This part of the plan didn’t go so well.  I got up in nice time to fill the feeders but found that two bird watchers had already filled up the hide with themselves and their equipment.  Two’s company and three’s a crowd so I filled the feeders and came home a bit grumpily.

A butterfly on the buddleia cheered me up.

peacock butterfly

…and I spotted a dunnock on the plum tree from my own bird hide (the kitchen window).

_DSC6123.jpg

In spite of the sunshine it was pleasantly cool but some birds seemed to be feeling the heat all the same.

blackbird

The second part of my grand plan was to leap on my fairly speedy bike and bicycle miles and miles.  I secretly had 100 miles in my mind but once again a certain disinclination to get myself organised was manifest and by the time that I got going (after a crossword, some coffee and a bit of toast, it was nearly eleven o’clock so I changed my ambitions from imperial to metrical and settled for trying to do more than 100 kilometres.

This went well.

Although I used mostly familiar roads, I managed to pick out a route that I hadn’t been round before and even included a few miles on a completely new road.

As I went along, there were always interested spectators…

sheep at Eaglesfield

…and fine bridges.

River Annan at Brydekirk

The River Annan at Brydekirk

As I was snapping the bridge, I noticed a luscious crop of unpicked blackberries…

brambles

…but sadly their survival was down to the fact that they were out of reach down the river bank.

Brydekirk is a typical village with a pub at one end of the street and a church at the other.   This was just one of the many churches which I passed on my journey.

church at Brydekirk, Dalston and Mousewald

These are churches at Dalston, Brydekirk and Mousewald

There were some big skies when I got out of the hills.

big sky at dalston

This one was taken at the spot where the vapour trails show that airliners turn left for America.

My new stretch of road involved climbing a stiff hill out of Dalston.  When I got to the top I came to an unexpected junction and stopped to consult Google Maps on my phone.  As it happened, I stopped opposite a patch of wild flowers which was playing host to about twenty butterflies.  Trying to take pictures of very small fluttering objects with bright sun shining onto the viewing screen, wearing dark glasses and just having cycled up a steep hill may explain my inability to bring you this wonderful sight in all its beauty.

butterflies near dalston

This was the best that I could do

The ridge gave me some good views while I was up there.

Views of Nith valley

Google maps came up trumps and I soon swooped down the other side of the hill and crossed the very busy A75 at a suitable crossroads.  I was not following a very well used road…

road near Mousewald

…but it took me safely down to Mousewald and thence on to Powfoot on the Solway shore.

I passed a field of alpacas near Powfoot and noticed that there were a couple of donkeys in with them.

alpacas and donkey at Powfoot

When I got to the sea shore at Powfoot, the sea was a long way off…

Powfoot view

…but I could see the English side very well.

Out on the sand banks, there was a family vainly trying to get a paddle…

Powfoot view

…and beside me was a very colourful lichen.

lichen at powfoot

The light wind was behind me now as I pedalled through Annan and on to Gretna where I stopped at the Old Toll Bar for a cup of tea and a teacake.  To my surprise, I met another Langholm cyclist who had also stopped there on his ride.   We sat and chatted for a while and discovered that we were doing roughly the same distance but in completely different directions, his route having taken him south of Carlisle.  He was going quite a lot faster than me too.

I polished off my teacake and set off to add an eight mile loop to my route to Longtown which took me through this woody tunnel near Justicetown.

Justicetown road

Once I got to Longtown, I took the straight way up the main road back to Langholm, stopping only to note some fine daisies on the Canonbie bypass…

daisies

…and a daddy long legs on a bollard beside the road.

daddy long legs

It had got quite hot for the last few miles of the trip and I was glad to  get home and sit down in the cool of the kitchen and have another cup of tea.  Although I had eaten well, two bananas, a filled roll and a teacake and drunk well too, three water bottles and a cup of tea, I had managed to lose a kilogram on the ride so it must have been a bit warmer than it felt.

Those interested in the details of the ride can click on the map as usual.

Garmin Route 24 Aug 2016

On a rough calculation, 71 miles translates into 113 kilometres so I did achieve Plan B at least.

It was still a beautiful evening after I had had my shower so a brief walk round the garden was in order.  There were more butterflies there.

butterfly

It is wonderful what a bit of sunshine will do.

Strangely enough, I didn’t really feel like going on a flying bird walk for some reason so a Golden Syllabub rose, held up by my lovely assistant, will have to do as flower of the day instead.

Golden Syllabub rose

 

 

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Today’s guest pictures shows a house in Steep Street, Lincoln.  It was taken by my brother on a visit last month.  The street is called Steep Street because it is very steep.

A house in Steep StreetI had a very flat day today.  After a quick rush up to the Moorland feeders, in my capacity as fill-in feeder filler, I came back for a large breakfast and as soon as I could get organised, I set off on the fairly speedy bike.  The forecast had offered a cloudy, dry day with light winds and I thought I would see how far my legs would take me on a very flat excursion.

It was a bit chilly (12 degrees C), I hadn’t slept very well and I had a slight headache so things didn’t look too promising but once again the miracle cure offered by Dr Velo came into play and it wasn’t long before I was cruising along at a respectable speed (for me) with no complaints from head or legs.

I stopped at Gretna to ring Mrs Tootlepedal and arranged to meet her for lunch on the English side of the Solway. After a false start when our chosen pub turned out to be closed, we met at Bowness-on-Solway and enjoyed omelettes and chips.  By this time, not only had Dr Velo cured any ailments, he had also made the sun come and it was a perfect day.

I had to stop to let these cattle cross the road and walk out onto the Solway shore

I had to stop to let these cattle cross the road and walk out onto the Solway shore

Although the road is basically as flat as a pancake, every now and again, a little rise gives you a view.

solway at DrumburghThe tide was quite well in and the pleasure of cycling (or driving in Mrs Tootlepdal’s case) along the English shore on such a beautiful day was very great.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal headed back home and I pressed on as far as Abbeytown.  This village, not surprisingly, is named after its abbey, Holm Cultram, a Cistercian foundation of the 12 century.  Not much remains of it now but the Abbey Church, much repaired, is still there.

Holm CultramI had a quick look inside.  It is very plain but with a fine wooden vault.

Holm CultramI turned for home myself after this visit and in general was too busy pedalling to stop for pictures but there were many very pretty churches to be seen on the way.

Newton Arlosh

at Newton Arlosh…

Bowness-on-Solway

at Bowness-on-Solway, said to be made from the stone from Hadrian’s Wall….

Burgh-by-Sands

…and at Burgh-by-Sands, with the sun in the wrong place by now.

Just how flat the countryside is can be seen from this picture of the gloriously named River Wampool  which I crossed shortly after lunch…

River wampool…and this view over the Solway to the Scottish shore which I took on my way back.

SolwayI ate and drank enough to keep my weight at the end of the ride exactly the same as when I started (no mean triumph on a hot day)  but I wasn’t very well organised and ate too much before half distance, leaving myself with a single banana for the way home.  By the time I got to Gretna, I was feeling peckish and stopped for an ice cream (two scoops) and a iced cherry slice to see me home.

As I got near to Carlisle, my chosen road home was shut for roadworks and I had to come round a long section of the new Carlisle bypass.  This has an excellent cycle path but numerous roundabouts, at each one of which the cyclist has to stop and give way to cars.  This stopping and starting, together with an unscheduled pause to let the cows come home….

cows coming home…took a bit of the stuffing out of my legs and my last 20 miles showed a considerable drop in speed.  Still, I managed the whole trip in fractionally under seven hours and as it was exactly 100 miles long, that pleased me a good deal.  It is surprising how much worse I would have felt about the journey if I had taken five minutes more and gone over the seven hour mark.

My favourite picture of the trip was taken just after leaving Kirkpatrick Fleming….

KPF trees…and gives a very good impression of what a stunning day it was as far as the weather went. Both Mrs Tootlepedal and I had a really good outing.

I got home in good order and took a couple of flower pictures just for a bit of variety.

poppyligulariaSadly, the sun had come round and I was too late to take a flying bird of the day so I can only apologise.  I should have pedalled faster.

Those with time hanging heavy on their hands can see the ride details here.

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