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Posts Tagged ‘Ewe Hill wind farm’

Today’s guest picture comes from my friend and former colleague, Marjorie.  She came upon these stunning fungi on a walk a few days ago.

blue fungus

It was a dry but grey morning and the forecast was not too bad for the rest of the day so my mind turned to cycling.

Before I set off, I had coffee and a slice of toast to think about and the birds to to watch as well.

They must have been reading the blog because after yesterday’s complaint about not enough birds, they came in better numbers today and the feeder was soon filled with goldfinches…

full feeder goldfinches

…with more anxious to join in.

This made for photo opportunities…

attacking goldfinch

…and bad tempered exchanges…

two goldfinches sparring

…and curious chaffinches.

chaffinch approac hing

The goldfinches in possession of a perch tried to ignore outside distractions and kept their heads well down while they could for the most part.

goldfinches tucking in

In the end, I put down the bird watching camera and packed my cycling camera into the pocket of a stout waterproof bright yellow jacket and got out my bicycle, noting two particoloured jackdaws at the apples as I set off.

two spotty jackdaws

There was a brisk north easterly wind blowing and it pushed me over Callister and along the newly surfaced road past the quarry to Paddockhole.  I stopped there for half a banana and a look at the bridge.

The bridge has a bright red metal plate screwed to the parapet and when I looked at the parapet, I could see that turning lorries may have been knocking into it a bit, hence the need for the warning and protective plate…

paddockhole brodge medley

…but the parapet was sound enough to be home to a nice pixie cup lichen among the moss and  a fallen beech nut.

The reason for the lorry traffic over the bridge is a new windfarm in the area so the narrow road after the bridge is being widened and lay-bys are being put in to cope with the construction vehicles.

Luckily there was very little traffic on the road as I battled up the hill alongside the Water of Milk straight into the brisk wind.  I was heading for the watershed between the Water of Milk and the River Esk and it took me some time.

It was lucky that I had my stout rainproof jacket on as it was drizzling at this point.  It was a bit annoying to look to my right and see the Ewe Hill wind farm bathed in sunshine.

ewe hill windfarm in sun

I pressed on, crossing little bridges over little streams…

bridge on crossdykes road

…until I got to the sunlit uplands on the top of the hill.  I love this section of road.

sunlit uplands baillieghill

To my right I could see more wind turbines making good use of the enthusiastic breeze…

new turnbines bailiehill

…and once I had got over the hill, I could see the Esk valley stretching in front of me.  The road follows that line of trees along the right side of the valley.

esk valley from bailliehill

The rain had blown over by now and I enjoyed a sunny trip back down the river into Langholm.  Larches stood out in the sunshine.

larch plantation

With seven miles to go, I stopped for the other half of my banana and a drink at the Enzieholm bridge.  Naturally, I had a look at the parapet while I was there.

enzieholm bridge medley

There was some good autumn colour on a hedge at Bentpath village…

colour at bentpath

…and I stopped to take a close up of a larch beside the road further on just to show that they really are golden at this time of year.

a golden larch

I had a look back at the Douglen Cleuch…

view of douglen

..before climbing the last hill of the day and swooping down into the town.  It was only a 26 miles ride but because of the wind and several hills to climb, it had seemed like more and I was very satisfied as it had felt like a proper outing.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy painting the hall while I was away.  It is looking very exciting already.

I had a look round the garden when I got home and was impressed by the staying power of the Rosy Cheeks rose and the very late phlox but the most arresting thing was the sudden appearance of a cowslip among the expected clematis, potentilla and wallflower.

six november flowers

I had a shower and than went for a walk.  I am supposed to keep exercising my feet and there was a little sunshine left so I headed off to see if I could find the fungi that Marjorie had photographed.

My usual friend was standing on the usual rock in the Esk…

gull on same rock

…and two goosanders were swimming up the river nearby.

two goodsanders

I should have been quicker to go walking as the sun was already sinking behind the hill and this was the last sunny view I got…

river esk november evening

…before crossing the Sawmill Brig and walking round the pheasant pens.  I didn’t find Marjorie’s fungi but I saw other varieties…

three fungi castleholm

… before I crossed the Duchess Bridge and made my way home.

duchess bridge november

As you can see, the bridge is in need of some TLC.

The slow cooked venison stew made a third and final appearance for our evening meal and it was followed by some tarte tatin which I had made when I got back from my walk.  I may need therapeutic help as I think that I have become addicted to tarte tatin.

When I checked, I discovered that the forecast for the next week is for some inclement and wintery weather with a maximum temperature of 7 degrees and plenty of rain so that made today’s ride and stroll even more pleasant in retrospect.

I apologise for an excessive number of pictures but it was an interesting day and here is a FBotD to round it off.

flying goldfinch

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The second of the ‘trip to London’ pictures shows “Topaz”, one of the elegant Pullman coaches pulled by the steam engine which we saw at Carlisle station.  I like the little lamps with shades at every table.

Pullman coach

We had a rare outbreak of summer today with plenty of sunshine and a cooling breeze from the north in case it got too hot.

I started the day off by going up to check on the Camera Club exhibition and making arrangements for visitors to purchase prints if the mood comes upon them.  While I was there, the volunteer custodian and I got our pictures taken by the local paper which was publicising the event for us.

I then went home and promptly had to come back up to the town again as I had forgotten to buy a Common Riding tie to wear when our little choir songs at the concert on Wednesday.  It is a quirk of the Langholm Common Riding that it has different colours each year, taken from the colour of the silks worn by the jockey of the winner of the Derby.  This means that there is a different tie every year.

All this excitement and a bit of shopping thrown in, meant that I needed a sit down and a cup of coffee when I finally got home.  Then I needed a lettuce and marmite sandwich to provide fuel so it was not until after midday that I managed to get going on the fairly speedy bike.

I took a few garden pictures before I left.

sunny flowers

Once on the bike, I soon discovered that my legs were in go slow mode so I didn’t push them and I was happy to stop for pictures as I went along.

There was plenty to see in the verges….

umbellifer with red soldier beetles

Every umbellifer seemed to have at least one red soldier beetle on it.   I saw a stem hosting nineteen insects of various sorts on its flower heads later in my ride.

The road side verges are recovering after the mowing and I liked this display of hawkbits on the road up Callister.

hawkbits on Callister

Whether they are ‘lesser, ‘autumn, ‘rough’ or some other hawbits I cannot tell but they were good to look at as I puffed up the hill.  I have no idea what the little birds in the middle of the road further up the hill were doing.

I had to cross a couple of recently gravelled sections of road on my journey but there has been sufficient traffic to make them quite safe for cycling which was a relief.

I went as far west as Paddockhole and then turned north, uphill and into the wind to get to Eskdalemuir via Bailliehill and Castle O’er.  This took me past the new windfarm at Ewe Hill and I tried to get a picture that took in all the 22 turbines…..

Ewe Hill wind farm

…and failed.  The turbines are so stretched out and alternately low and high that my camera couldn’t cope at all.

There are now so many wind turbines in Scotland that on a day of good wind and low demand, they can provide just about all the energy that is needed for the whole country.  What is required now is serious work on developing storage for renewable energy and it does seem that people are paying attention to this.  I live in hope.

I pedalled on up the valley of the Water of Milk, crossing bridges when I came to them.

little bridge on Bailliehill road

When I arrived at Bailliehill, I had crossed the col between the water of Milk and the Esk Valley….

Esk valley at Bailliehill

One of my favourite views of the Esk

…and I was soon passing the spot where the Black Esk meets the White Esk….

Black Esk meets White Esk

…and I had to cross the Black Esk…..

Black Esk bridge

…to continue up the west bank of the White Esk to Eskdalemuir.

When I got there, the northernmost point of the trip, I crossed yet another bridge…

Eskdalemuir bridge

Electricity and phone wires are everywhere I go.

…to continue my journey back to Langholm down the east bank of the river.

After pedalling the last ten miles uphill and into the wind, I was hoping for a good push from the breeze to get me back to Langholm but it was fitful and flighty and often seemed to come from the side and even into my face a bit instead of wafting me home.

Still, it was a glorious day to be out in the country so I didn’t mind too much and just pedalled along in a very stately manner admiring the views.

There are prehistoric monuments along the way.  This is a stone circle, The Girdle Stanes, half of which has been swept away by the river.

Girdle Stanes

The fields really were those colours.  The whole outing was a visual treat.

I had to pause on the Crurie Brae to let my tin knee rest as I am not supposed to cycle up steep hills.  While I paused,  I looked north.  I could see the road that I had come up on the other side of the valley.

Looking back from Crurie Brae

Soon afterwards, I got my reward for the climbing I had done…..

Shaw Rigg

…as I whistled down the long straight road of the Shaw Rig.

I was soon pedalling along the back road past Georgefield, through banks of wild flowers….

Georgefield road

…until I crossed the Esk again at Bentpath by the bridge below the church….

Bentpath bridge and church

…which I see has got the builders in.

Westerkirk Church

Although the road from Eskdalemuir is theoretically downhill as it follows the river, it never seems that way when I am cycling along it. It undulates a lot and I was grateful to get to the last climb of the day.  I stopped for a breather and a final view from my ride.

View of Esk valley at Potholm

I would have taken a picture of the good crop of raspberries at the top of the hill but I inadvertently ate them before I thought of getting the camera out.  Wild raspberries are delicious.

I did 34 miles which is not far but as you can see from the elevation profile below, it was an up and down sort of ride with long uphill and short downhill sections so not very restful.  It was the slowest ride I have done for ages but also one of the most enjoyable.

Garmin route 24 July 2107

Click on the map for more details of the ride if you wish

 

When I got home, I had another wander round the garden….

poppy and roses

…edged the lawn and picked some beetroot which I then cooked.  I made a loaf of bread (with water) and went upstairs to have shower.  The front lawn looked so good from the bathroom window that I went back downstairs and got a camera.  I often say to Mrs Tootlepedal that all the work that I do on the lawn through autumn, spring and early summer is to make it look good for at least one day later in the summer.

I think that this might have been that day.

the front lawn looking good

When I came down a little later, there were forty sparrows pecking the lawn to bits.  Ah well.

Still the evening sunshine lit up a poppy very nicely so that soothed my ire.

poppy in sunshine

And a very cheery clematis at the front door completely restored my good humour.

front door clematis

Then my flute pupil Luke came and we played through our trio and that rounded off a very good day indeed.

After tea, I picked the very last of the blackcurrants and I hope to find time to make a pot or two of jelly tomorrow.

The flying birds of the day can’t make up their minds and are sitting on the fence for the time being.

blackbirds

Oh all right, it’s a hedge and not a fence.  Perhaps they are hedging their bets.

 

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Today’s guest picture is one from my brother’s archive.  He visited Roche Abbey in August and enjoyed this neat little bridge.

Roche Abbey

I woke up feeling a great deal better than yesterday but with a few aches and pains still in residence.  It seemed like case for Dr Velo and so after the regulation amount of footering about waiting for the temperature to go up a bit and eating toast, I finally dragged myself out into the brilliant sunshine, snapped a poppy (and friend)…

poppy

…and bicycled off up the Wauchope road.  It wouldn’t be true to say that there wasn’t a cloud in the sky….

cloud in the sky

…but for an early autumn day, things couldn’t have looked much fresher…

Minsca wind farm

…and there was only just enough wind to make the Minsca windmills go round.

I dropped in on the doorkeeper at the Ewe Hill wind farm (where the blades that we saw being transported the other day were bound) and he kindly gave me a list of telephone numbers so that I can try to find someone who will let me visit the site when the towers are going up.

I pedalled on and crossed the bridge at Paddockhole and headed up to Corrie Common.  It occurred to me that I might be able to see the towers going up without visiting the site if i can’t get permission and I looked across to see.

Ewe Hill windfarm

I could see the ground being prepared behind the first array of turbines and the zoom lens was quite able to get close.

Ewe Hill windfarm

So if I can’t get permission to visit, I will still be able to see work in progress.

I pedalled on to the top of the hill and was reminded that we have plenty of windmills round about all ready.

Windfarm

I could see over forty turbines spread across the hills on the far side of the valley.  You can see why some people feel that we have got more than enough without adding to the number but I think that we can squeeze a few more in.

Looking out from the top of the hill at Corrie, there is a splendid panoramic view…

View from Corrie

…of which this is just a fraction.

As it was a grand day and the light wind was behind me, I decided to head over the hills to Boreland and then come back down to Gretna.

There was plenty to entertain me on the way.

Black sheep

A black sheep

White horse

A white horse

Pony and traps

Ponies and traps  (there are two there, compressed by the zoom)

railway

The railway line that carries us from Lockerbie to Edinburgh when we visit Matilda

Autumn colour near Lockerbie

Autumn colour south of Lockerbie

So I was in good spirits when I got to Gretna after 42 miles.  I was in even better spirits when I had downed a plate of egg and chips and a latte at the Old Toll Bar cafe.  The old toll bar is yards from the border so they kindly have informative clocks there for visitors…

old toll bar clocks

…and I was pleased to see that Brexit hasn’t upset this harmony yet.

I had originally planned for a ride of fifty miles and a spell of gusty winds winds as I came down the road to Gretna made me feel that even that might be hard work but as I sat in the cafe, the wind dropped back again to a very gentle level so I took a slightly longer roundabout route back through Glenzier.

I had just got to the A7, 6 miles from home, when a familiar sight caught my eye.  Scott, the minister and a friend had stopped for a drink at the top of the Canonbie bypass.  I had let an opportunity to join them for a hundred mile ride slip by and I was quite pleased when I found out that they had completed the 106 miles at over 16 mph. I would have held them up badly.  It was no wonder that they needed a breather before the last lap.

We had a chat and then I went back by a slightly different route than them. It gave me a fine view over the village of Canonbie…

Canonbie

The sun had gone by this time

..and a little further on, a look at the hills beneath which Langholm lies.

Esk valley

As always, the sun was shining in Langholm

I arrived in Langholm just behind Scott and Greg and congratulated them on their achievement.  They had had to come back on their route home just when the wind was at its briskest so they deserved to feel quite pleased with themselves (and I was once again pleased that I hadn’t been foolish enough to offer to go with them).

Still, I was modestly pleased with my 62 miles even though I hadn’t got anywhere near their speed and those with time hanging heavy on their hands can see details of the route by clicking on the map below.

garmin-route-8-oct-2016

Once again Dr Velo had worked his magic and I was feeling absolutely fine.  I can heartily recommend cycling as cure for almost any ill though Savlon is very good too.

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been extremely busy in the garden while I had been out pootling about.  She is revamping the bed in front of the hedge along the street.

The two azaleas have been replanted.

azaleas

And everything nearby has either been rooted up or trimmed down.

the hedge bed

She plans to line the bed with a colourful succession of daffodils, tulips, grape hyacinths, Sweet William, yellow crocosmia and poppies.  I look forward to many photo opportunities next year.

She added to her tasks by cooking a meal of courgette fritters for our tea and then we settled down to watch Strictly, both of us feeling tired but contented with our day’s work.

I didn’t have an opportunity to catch a flying bird but the flower of the day is a cornflower.

cornflower

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from ex-Langholm Archive data miner, Ken who is now living on the wrong side of the country.  He sent me this picture of Monkseaton Senior School, a place where the children obviously get a fully rounded education.

Monkseaton Senior School

Spoiler alert: If you don’t care for big lorries and birds, look away now.  There are too many pictures in this post.

Our spell of dry weather continued today.  This was fortunate as my day started with two outdoor activities.  Much to my surprise, I not only woke up at seven o’clock but I actually  got up at seven o’clock and then Mrs Tootlepedal got up too and we went off on a great windmill hunt.

This was a speculative venture as the offical time for the passing of the windmill procession was between six and eight am but the men whom I had met yesterday had told me that it might easily be much later.  This meant that when we arrived just before eight, we might have missed the thing altogether or still have hours to wait, not knowing whether it had gone past or not.

It was therefore with some degree of triumph (and a relief) that the first thing that we spotted was a police car with a flashing blue light.

windmill transport

We parked our car safely out of the way and I walked back to ask the policeman in the car what was the programme.  He told me that the load for today was turbines rather than the windmill tower itself and I was a bit disappointed until I saw the lorry appear….

windmill transport

with a 60metre blade on board…..followed by a second….

windmill transport

…and then a third.

windmill transport

They had a narrow bridge to cross….

windmill transport

…which needed inch perfect navigation and then they came up the hill from the Gair road…

windmill transport

…crossed the Waterbeck road with more skilful driving….

windmill transport

The back bogey with independent steering

…and drove onto the specially constructed track through a field on the other side of the road.

windmill transport

Soon all three blades were parked in the field.

windmill transport

I needed to use the panorama setting on the Lumix to get them all in from side on.

windmill transport

A remarkable sight.

They had set off from Glasgow at midnight, come down the motorway overnight and them waited at Kirkpatrick until daylight before they ventured onto the narrow back roads to bring them to Waterbeck.  At this point there was still four miles to go before they could get to the windmill site itself.  I could see the site from the field…

Ewe hill windfarm

…and it was sobering to realise just how big those turbines are.

After a pause to ensure that the road ahead was clear, the lead driver got into his vehicle…

windmill transport

…gave a cheery wave and set off for the final leg of the journey…

windmill transport

…very carefully.  Soon the whole cavalcade was on its way.

windmill transport

There were clues that this wasn’t entirely a home grown operation.

windmill transport

Mrs Tootlepedal and I were mightily impressed by the efficiency and calmness of the operation and went home very happy to have got such a good reward from an early start.

I had time for a slice of toast when we got home before Sandy arrived.  I had taken on the job of a fill-in feeder filler at the Moorland Project for an absent friend and Sandy very kindly offered to give me a lift up to the site.  We were fully equipped with cameras and tripods and after we had filled the feeders, we settled down in the handy hide for a bit of bird watching.

There were plenty of birds to watch.  I was pleased to see lots of chaffinches and a bunch of healthy looking greenfinches…

chaffinch and greenfinch

…and a good number of coal tits and great tits.

coal tit and great tit

The chaffinches flew around in all directions…

chaffinches

…but the star of the show was a dozy pheasant….

pheasant

…who walked up a branch and fell off the end.

A couple of woodpeckers put in a very fleeting appearance…

woodpeckers

…but didn’t stay to feed.

There were outbreaks of cuteness…

robin and rabbit

…and a good deal of self conscious posing for the camera.

chaffinch

The lure of a cup of coffee got us moving in the end and after a look round outside the hide…

Langholm Moor

…we headed for home.

After coffee, Sandy went off and Mrs Tootlepedal and I set about reducing the mound of garden clippings….

garden clippings

….to this useful pile of compost.

garden clippings

It is a very handy machine when Attila the Gardener is in full flow.

Then it was time for lunch.

We had just finished when the sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal noticed a tiny wren outside the window.  I caught a glimpse of it before it flew off.

wren

With giant turbine blades in the morning and a tiny wren in the afternoon, we had a day of marked contrasts.

I had hoped to continue with my run of short cycle rides after lunch but the wind was just too strong for comfort today so instead I sieved some more compost, mowed the front lawn and ate some raspberries.

Mrs Tootlepedal amused herself by going off to get some muck from her manure mine and when she got back we noticed a lone butterfly on the dahlias. It was a small tortoiseshell.

small tortoisehell butterfly

They have been very scarce this year.

I enjoyed looking at the rich colours still about in the garden.

poppy, rose, cotoneaster and nasturtium

Long may the good weather continue.

We went in for a cup of tea and I had so many pictures to look at already that I decided not to go for a short walk and take some more in spite of the nice day.  This was just as well as looking at the pictures that I had already taken filled in all the available time before it was necessary to get tea cooked.  We had smoked sausage risotto and courgette fritters.  I shall miss Mrs Tootlepedal’s courgette fritters when the courgette supply finally runs out.

After tea, I went off to sing with our local choir, Langholm Sings and we had a really enjoyable rehearsal.  Although our numbers are small, everyone is working hard and we are making good progress.  As she is singing in two other choirs, Mrs Tootlepedal has decided to retire from Langholm Sings.  She will be sadly missed.

The flying bird of the day is that pheasant, recovering (just) from stepping off the end of the branch this morning.

flying pheasant

 

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