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Posts Tagged ‘Esk Valley’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He was walking his dogs when he came upon this artful construction on the beach.

wemyss beach

Our spell of sunny weather continued today, together with a gusty and cool wind from the east.  It got a lot warmer in the afternoon though.

The day started with the crossword and a visit to the corner shop to top up supplies, and I got back in time to find the street coffee meeting in full swing.  I joined in with a cup of Brazilian coffee and a ginger biscuit.

I left the meeting before it was finished and set about putting a little soluble fertiliser onto the middle lawn with the aid a watering can.  This was an effort to encourage the grass to show a bit more enthusiasm for growing.

Out of the wind, life was very pleasant in the garden and when I had finished the lawn care and some additional watering of shrubs and flowers round the lawn, I had time for a wander about.

In the sunshine, the tulips were glowing.

four lovely tulips

Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out a little violet modestly growing in a far corner…

violet

…and I took a view of this wonderful euphorbia, one of the more curious things in the garden.

euphorbia curls

The little willow is beginning to burst out.

willow in garden

Having surveyed the field, I came to the conclusion that this was my favourite tulip of the day.

pink tulip

Mr Tootlepedal thought that this row of freshly thinned bean seedlings should take pride of place

thinned beans

We went in to have lunch and I was able to watch a small group of goldfinches on the bird feeder.  There were enough in the group to cause an outbreak of regrettable behaviour, with vulgar shouting…

goldfinches

…and some use of bad language.

sparring goldfinches

I left all this behind me though and went for my afternoon walk.

I was quite happy to leave cycling for another day as there was still a brisk wind blowing.  Luckily it blew me up Meikleholm Hill.

The ground is so dry that walking up the sheep cropped grassy slope was a pleasure.  You can see that the sheep really do eat everything and to a certain extent, our beautiful green hills are a bit like a desert when looked at closely.

walking up meikleholm hill

Still, it makes for good walking and I was soon at the top of the hill, looking back down towards the dusty track where I was passed by a timber wagon on my walk two days ago.

longfauld from meikleholm hill

I walked on from Meikleholm Hill to the trig point on Timpen, and I took this shot of a normally very boggy bit of ground on the way to show just how dry things things are.

boggy bit in drought

Although the lockdown is tedious, for cyclist and walkers, this has been a good time.  It will come as a shock to cyclists when the roads fill up with traffic again, and it will come as a shock to walkers when the boggy bits fill up with water.

Light cloud was drifting across the sky and it had got rather hazy, so long views were not very good, but looking down from the hill, the scenery was still attractive and the light seemed to emphasise the range of colours on the hills and in the valleys.

castle hill from timpen

I took a panoramic shot from the top of Timpen and a click on the pic will get you the larger view.

timpen panorama

Rather then head straight back down the hill into the wind, I walked on and drifted down over the edge of the hill towards the road which you can see below.

looking down to road from timpen

Fine views of the Esk valley were spread out in front of me.

craigcleuch from timpen

Thanks to the excellent underfoot conditions (and a carefully wielded walking pole), I got down the slope without difficulty and was soon walking home along the road.

Here, away from the sheep, there were wild flowers to be seen in the verges, and a fine willow beside the road.

wild flowers april 2

I left the road at the Potholm junction and walked down through the woods to the Duchess Bridge…

duchess bridge

…which I did not cross.  I was tempted to cross it and extend my walk but my feet explained that they had had enough fun after three days of walks in a row, so I sympathised with them and took the direct route home

I saw laurel flowers, my first red campion of the year and the path was lined with celandine and wood anemones.

wild flowers april

(The celandine picture is very bad but I didn’t realise that until I got home and I needed to make up a panel of four so it got in anyway.)

I was very much taken with the frame of daisies round the long jump run up on the Scholars Field.

long jump run up

I got home in time for a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit before joining the daily Zoom session with my siblings.

The end of our good weather is in sight but I am optimistic that I can get a couple of days of cycling in before the rain comes.  The forecasters have promised that the wind will drop and I hope that I can believe them.

It is becoming more and more apparent that things will not get back to “normal” for some time, and in the months to come, these last few weeks of sunny walks in the hills and valleys round Langholm may become treasured memories for me as it starts to rain again and we sit around waiting for a vaccine to arrive.

On that cheerful note, I leave you with a fine goldfinch as the flying bird of the day.

flying goldfinch

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Guess whose birthday it was today.  Guest picture courtesy of her mother Clare.

Matilda's birthday

Finding things to do in the lockdown is tricky.  Mrs Tootlepedal decided to put a stone edge on one of her garden paths today.

Mrs T's path edge

I had a couple of important things on my to do list today, take the Zoe to Carlisle for its first annual service and drop my bike in at the bike shop on the way as it needs some professional care.

I spent quite a bit of time worrying about this and working out how to take the best possible precautions but the worry was needless.  I checked the garage website before I left and found the the garage was completely shut until further notice.  I decided to take the bike to Longtown anyway and rang up to check that they were open just in case.  They were open but thanks to a misunderstanding, they were not expecting my bike.

I now have a bike appointment for next week and a highly provisional car booking for two months time.

Still, it meant that I didn’t have to worry about catching the virus.  Every cloud etc etc…

Not that there were any clouds at all here today as we had another day of wall to wall sunshine.  In fact, it was too bright to make taking garden pictures easy and a very brisk wind didn’t help things either.

Mrs Tootlepedal has been impressed by the vigour of our trout lilies…

trout lilies

…and intends to spread them about the garden a bit.

She likes this combination of tulips which were sold as a complementary lot.

mixed tulip

I like these two pairs.

two tulip twice

And these two too.  The one on the right is a tiny miniature tulip.

two tulips

In fact, I pretty well like all tulips, except very fancy ones..

It was too windy for most of the insects but one or two bees ventured out to do some work.

bee on plum blossom

I made soup for lunch and made a batch of ginger biscuits afterwards.

This all took time, so it was not until later afternoon that I set out for my permitted walk.  It was too windy to go up a hill so I settled for a sheltered lowland walk.

I started off along the Esk, with plenty to look at….

cherry gull. mallard, laurel

…headed onto the Kilngreen…

esk on lovely day

…where a very neatly framed drain cover caught my eye.

drain cover and daisies

Then I crossed the Sawmill Brig and walked up the hill to take the path along the top of the wood above the Lodge Walks.

There were lambs…

mixed lambs

…nice light and shade, and dry conditions underfoot…

track to north lodge

…not to mention bluebells (with, if you look very closely,  a peacock buterfly which I didn’t notice at the time).

bluebells

I ventured on to a new track for me.  It was open and sunny at times…

new track above longfauld

…and dark and gloomy at other times.

dark wood

But I came out of the dark woods on to a familiar track and was able to enjoy once again the view across the river….

across the esk from longfauld

…and the view up the Esk Valley.

view up esk valley

My peace was shattered by the passing of a very large timber wagon…

log lorry passing

…but fortunately it disappeared in a puff of smoke.

log lorry going

Did I mention that it has been very dry for weeks?

I walked home by way of the Jubilee Bridge, passing the first wild garlic flower that I have seen this spring, as well as a handsome individual bluebell, a cheery robin, and some Corydalis on the Scholar’s Field wall.

garlic, bluebell, robin, corydalis

Just as I got home, I was nearly knocked flat by the stunning cherry blossom in our neighbour Betty’s front garden.

betty's blossom

If times were normal, we might have gone to Edinburgh to help Matilda celebrate her sixth birthday today but as it was, we enjoyed a video call and were able to sing Happy Birthday to her.  “That was very surprising,” Matilda said.

No flying bird of the day today but an oyster catcher, creeping away from me on my afternoon walk is the standing bird of the day.

P1050300

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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.

craigcleuch

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.

imd

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 comes from our friend Bruce who was out walking his dogs this morning.

bruce's morning mist

Bruce took his photograph at half past eleven this morning when, as you can see, it was misty on the Castleholm.

I had looked out of the window after breakfast and only seen sunshine and frost but when I went outside, I could see mist on the hills so I thought that this would be a good moment to rush up the hill (in a car) and see if I could look down from above to get some “sea of mist” shots.

It was before ten when I left and it was quite misty as I drove over the bridge on my to the White Yett so my hopes were high.  Sadly, my optimism went down in inverse ratio to the height I gained as I went up the hill and when I got to the car park, it was apparent that I had left things too late.

I left the car and walked up the track to the monument, looking down as I went.  There was only a trickle of mist running along the very bottom of the Ewes valley…

light mist ewes valley

…and not much more running along the length of the Esk.light mist over town

There were places where the mist was a bit thicker…

mist up esk valley

It was beautiful day though and the views were lovely so I wasn’t as unhappy about the lack of mist as I might have been.

mist over whole town

I should have got out earlier because the mist had risen up and was now sitting in an impressive line along the top of the hills along the Ewes valley.

clouds on ewes hill tops

As I walked, the clouds lifted a bit more and across the town, I could see the wind turbines, which had been in the clouds in previous pictures, quite clearly now.

craig windmills with diggerThe sharp eyed reader may notice something beside the left hand turbine tower in the shot above.  A closer examination shows that it is one of those machines with a lifting platform reaching up to a blade.

When I got to the summit, I walked a few yards past the monument and looked over the wall into a misty England.

view over misty england

Turning round, and looking the other way, all was clear as crystal.

monument december

I was happy to see a very decorative patch of lichen enjoying life at 1000 ft above sea level.

lichen at monument

Although I hadn’t seen as much mist as I would have liked, it was a delightful short walk and the sun took the edge off a sub zero temperature as I walked back down to the car…

sun and shadow at monument

…and made everything look very cheerful.

lichen at white yett

The mist really was very local, lying close to the rivers and very low, as you can see from this picture which I took when I was almost back down the hill and into the town…

mist over rugby club

…and it was still there when Bruce was walking his dogs an hour later (assuming the clock on his camera is set correctly.)

I made a pot of coffee and had a cup with Mrs Tootlepedal when I got home and I was pleased to warm my hands up after exposing my shutter finger to the chilly breeze on the hill.

Fortified by the coffee, I had a look at the birds.  There were a lot about today, the most this winter so far.

Goldfinches arrived with and without the use of wings…

goldfinches wings

…and jackdaws looked on disapprovingly as usual.

quizzocal jackdaw

The robin took a more quizzical view…

quizzical robin on stalk

…and a green finch showed that it too could manage without any wing flapping.

no wings greenfinch

I waited in for a delivery of hand made soap after lunch and then went for a short walk.  After the brilliantly sunny morning, the afternoon was a disappointment, being very grey and gloomy, so taking pictures was hard work.

A pheasant at the lodge was bright enough to show off its exotic colours…

pheasant at lodge

…and I saw two lots of fungus, the first a crop looking so like a heap of fallen leaves that I almost passed it by without noticing it…

fungus lodge walks

…and the second gleaming brightly on a tree branch.

fungus duchess bridge

It wasn’t as cold as when the sun had been out in the morning but it wasn’t really a great time for a photographic walk so I pressed on home, taking a final picture suitable to the conditions.

moss and fern tree

Darkness fell soon after I got home.  Following a recommendation from Sandy, we have started to watch the BBC adaptation of His Dark Materials on the i-player and this was a perfect opportunity to take in three episodes before we had our evening meal.  It is very gripping.

Checking on the train company showed that they had managed to run more of their trains today than yesterday, so we are hoping that this improvement will continue tomorrow and we will be able to find a train to go to Edinburgh to see Matilda.

The flying bird of the day is a gull which flew over my head as I walked along th Kilngreen this afternoon.

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony in East Wemyss, the land of eternal sunshine. It is not the sharpest picture that he has ever taken, but I thought that it was unusual enough to fill the guest spot.

forth sunset

We had a cool but sunny day here. The temperature was near enough to freezing when we went to church in the morning to persuade me to walk rather than cycle. Mrs Tootlepedal was braver and pedalled.

The choir had rather an adventurous time with some unfamiliar and unrehearsed hymns but fortunately the new minister sang the hymns quite loudly with his microphone turned well up, so there must have been some doubt as to whether anyone heard us anyway.

It was still fine when we got home, and this gave me the opportunity to watch some birds while cooking lentil soup for lunch.

An old friend was present…

robin

…and at least two of our dunnocks have avoided the cat peril…

dunnock on hedge

…and were happy to pose for me.

dunnock on twig

Three hungry goldfinches turned up but they were the only ones to arrive while I was watching.

three goldfinches

A jackdaw dropped in but didn’t stay.

jackdaw on pole

After we had eaten some soup for our lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a walk.

At three miles and mostly along the flat, it was less testing than yesterday’s outing but I was still very pleased to find that my feet were in full working order and carried me along without complaint.

Mrs Tootlepedal had some embroidery stuff to deliver to a friend and our route to her house took us along the river. Mrs Tootlepedal walked boldly under some alarmingly sloping trees, looking for all the world like Little Red Riding Hood going to visit her granny (only in blue of course).

Leaning trees

We crossed the Duchess Bridge and walked along the low road to Holmhead…

low road in winter sun

…and then to the North Lodge where the parcel was delivered.

I took the chance to go a few yards further on so that I could enjoy the view up the Esk valley…

looking up from North Lodge

…and note possibly the barest bare tree that I have ever taken a picture of.

totally bare tree

We walked back along the path above the Lodge Walks, enjoying the pines that are left when the spruces are felled…

pines after felling

There are a good variety of conifers left and we liked the different cones. I think that the one on the left might be Western Hemlock but I am not good at identifying trees.

two conifers

As we were sheltered from the breeze by the woods on our right, it was a fine afternoon for walking. Whita was looking at its best when we came to the end of the trees and got a clear view.

whita from Pathhead

There is not much colour about at the moment apart from green and brown, but a vibrant dogwood in a garden did its best to brighten things up.

dogwood

We came down the hill to the Sawmill Brig, where I was hoping to see a dipper but this little robin on the mossy parapet was the only bird about.

robin on sawmill brig

I had seen two dippers on the rocks beside the Kirk Brig when I came out of church in the morning but of course I had no camera with me then. It was annoying but typical that when I had a camera, the dippers were conspicuous by their absence.

After a few rainy days earlier on, the water in the rivers has dropped a lot and only half of the Sawmill Brig was needed to deal with the flow today.

sawmill brig low water

The white duck was floating quietly on the Ewes water as we went along the Kilngreen.

white duck

There had been dark talk of snow in the forecasts but there was no sign of it in Langholm and this impressive cloud was the nearest thing to bad weather that we got.

dark cloud

As our Carlisle Choir is on holiday for the next few weeks and Strictly Come Dancing has finished for the year, we were a bit short of entertainment for a Sunday so we went to Carlisle and paid another visit to the pictures.

We saw a well reviewed film called Knives Out. I was a bit doubtful about it when I found that it lasted for two hours which is a long time to sit around. However, my fears were misplaced and the film was great fun from first to last and the two hours sped by. The film was chock full with ideas, but even at two hours there was not enough room to develop them all, so many promising threads were discarded along the way. It must have been tough for the writer/director to know what to throw away as the film developed.

With a few more cold days to come, I am hoping to get more walking practice in during next week. Strike while the iron is cold is my motto.

A chaffinch appears as the flying bird of the day. I might have to adjust the feeder so that birds approach it into the sun!

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Tony.  He was impressed by the power of some ivy which he found eating a castle turret.

ivy covered turret

I had a day neatly divided into three parts with a wide variety of weather to experience.

My day started when I crossed the suspension bridge in grey, slightly misty conditions.

suspension bridge

I had a bit of business to do in the town but it didn’t take long and I was soon on my way for a three  bridges walk.

When I got to the Kilngreen, the gulls were have a bath…

gulls in water

…and the rooks were looking for food in the grass.

rook kilngreen

At 4°C it was cool but there was little wind so it was a good day for a walk.

After seeing some very interesting moss on my walk yesterday, I had another look at moss on a wall today but found nothing unusual.

moss ewesbank

I did find an interesting lichen though.

lichen lodge walks

It was my intention to walk round the pheasant hatchery and I made good progress along the road beside the field, noticing this device for tightening fence wire…

fence gadget

…and wondering whether a black and white setting would give a truer picture of the day than colour as my camera always tries its best to make the colour look as colourful as possible.

bandw phesant hatchery road

I had just got to the top of the pheasant hatchery and was considering this old tree surrounded by potential youngsters in tubes…

old tree and new trees

…when a cacophony of whistles and banging made me aware of the presence of a group of people who had arrived to reverse the production of pheasants by shooting them.

This is not the sort of shooting that I am comfortable with so I took myself and my camera back the way that I had come, crossed the Duchess Bridge out of range of the guns and waited until I had got home before doing some of my own shooting of birds in the garden.

plum chaffinch crop

A stout sparrow took the chair…

sparrow taking the chair

…while stupid chaffinches wasted time and effort arguing when there were free perches available for all.

quarrelling chaffinches

I made some lentil soup for lunch and and ate it.  After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents and I went for a bicycle ride.

The temperature was still only 5°C but the sun had come out and the day was transformed from dull grey to full colour as this view over the Bloch shows.

sunny view from bloch

Sadly, it only took about another two miles for the weather to revert to grey as the sun slipped behind a bank of cloud and mist rose up from the valley.

misty clouds

I was going round my Canonbie circuit and coming up the Esk through the village, I began to wonder if the mist would get so thick that cycling might be dangerous.  However,  as I left the village and began the gentle climb up to Langholm, the mist thinned out and I could see Hollows Tower clearly, although the trees behind were still rather vague.

hollows tower

Looking up the road, the low mist was still lying but there was plenty of blue sky up above…

misty hollows road

…and by the time that I got back to Langholm, I was in full sunshine again.  I pedalled on through the town and up the A7, hoping to get a sunny view up the Ewes valley but that bank of cloud got in the way again and only the hills at the top of the valley were clear with mist rising from the fields again.

misty ewes valley from a7

I turned and cycled home in the gathering gloom….

misty warbla

…and got there not a moment too soon as within half and hour, the mist was so thick that I couldn’t see past the end of our road.

I made myself a sausage, onion and leek stew for my tea and then my friend Susan kindly appeared to give me a lift to our recorder group in Carlisle.  I was worried that thick mist might make the journey uncomfortable but it had thinned out and we drove down without too much difficulty.

We enjoyed a good tootle (and excellent biscuits) with the group and found that the mist had cleared away before our return to Langholm, where I found Mrs Tootlepedal back from her trip to Edinburgh.

In between all this, I had a go at the ‘blowing down a straw into water’ recommended by my speech therapist.  It was noisy and splashy and fun so it won’t be hard to remember to do it twice daily for the next seven weeks.  After that, I hope to be able to sing like a bird…

…though I probably still won’t qualify as the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who started the new year by visiting the strangely named Locko Park where he met a fine lake.

Locko Park

Our year here started with a brilliantly sunny but rather chilly day.  I would have liked to have taken part in the eight mile walk/run event that starts the Langholm year off but a combination of stiff muscles and sore feet persuaded me that a bike ride would be a better bet.

After a late breakfast, a little cooking and dawdling my way to coffee, I saw that the thermometer had climbed to 5°C so I got my cycling clothes on, got out my bike, leaned it against the car while I filled my water bottle and then looked at the car windscreen.

It was still covered with ice.

I put the bike back in, took my cycling clothes off and went for a walk.  The roads may well have been 99% clear of ice but it is that other 1% that I am hoping not to meet this year.

My idea was to walk to the top of a 1000ft hill and admire the views and so I headed up Meikleholm Hill (859ft), intending to go along the ridge and onto the next hill, Timpen (1069ft), and get my views there.

I passed some fine fungus…

Meikleholm track fungus

…and was soon looking at views from about 656ft…

Esk valley from Meikleholm

…but not long afterwards, I found myself looking at the enquiring heads of cattle peeking over the skyline and looking back at me.

For the second time today, I changed my plan. I retreated.

I lost about 100 feet and found a cattle free but steep route to the top of Timpen.  There were a number of views available and the air was remarkably clear for once.

I looked north along the ridge….

view from top of timpen 4

…and down into the Esk valley curling among the hills.

view from top of timpen 3

Nearer to me I could see the river running through the fields of Milnholm.

view from top of timpen 2

Going further round, I could see Castle and Potholm Hills making a barrier between the Esk and the Ewes Water on the far side.

view from top of timpen 1

And going round further still, I could look back down on the town, 800 feet below.

view of langholm from top of timpen

It was warm enough in the sunshine for me to unbutton my jacket, put my gloves in my pocket and still feel rather hot after the climb.

Coming back down the hill, I chose a cow dodging route using a mountain biking trail through the woods on the shady side of the hill.

bike track down Meikleholm Hill

The track was well maintained and although it was much colder out of the sun, it was a pleasure to walk along a track that I had never used before. I ended up down on the road about a mile out of town and took the path above the river that leads to the Duchess bridge (part of Walk 2 of the Langholm Walks).

Trees had fallen across the track but some kind person had come along with a chain saw and cut a Tootlepedal sized hole in the trunk…

walk 2 path

…so I was able to arrive safely on the flat of the Castleholm and walk along the tree lined Lodge walks in the sunshine.

lines across Lodge walks

I crossed the Sawmill Bridge and strolled along the Kilngreen.  There were many gulls on the fence posts but as I got near, they flew off and only one remained.

gull on post

I feel fairly sure that if I had had my flying bird camera with me, they would all have stayed glued to the posts.

Looking back up the river, I could see the sun  tipping the hill with gold where I had stood an hour earlier taking in those views.

Esk and Timpen

One of the really good things about our hills to my mind, is the ease with which one can get up and down them without requiring a mass of time and special walking kit.  I did find my two walking poles very useful though as the grass on the shady side of the hill was still frosty and slippery in places.

I tried to catch a flying bird in the garden when I got home but they were nowhere to be seen and this shy character was the only bird available.

chaffinch hiding

I collected Mrs Tootlepedal who was at work on her rocking horse restoration project and we went off to see Mike and Alison Tinker and wish them and their daughter and her family who were visiting, a happy new year.

We had a sociable new year drink and some good conversation and Mike and his daughter Liz, who is a professional horticulturalist, pointed out that two days ago, the blog had wrongly called this shrub, which we encountered on a walk, a pernettya…

pernettya bush

…whereas Mike actually has a pernettya in his garden and it looks like this…

pernettya

…and what we had seen two days ago…

pernettya berries

…was a Symphoricarpos or snowberry.  I apologise deeply for the error which must have appalled many readers who were too polite to point it out.

I was slightly envious when I saw a steady stream of birds visiting Alison’s feeder as we sipped and chatted.   Liz presented Mrs Tootlepedal with a bowl of hyacinths as a new year’s gift and I hope this will appear in future posts when they burst into flower.

I had made a beef and mushroom stew in the slow cooker in the morning so we were well supplied for our evening meal when the time came.

In the absence of any flying birds, I can offer an echelon of gulls who returned to their posts as soon as I had got too far away to photograph one individually.

zig zag gulls

 

 

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