Posts Tagged ‘Hadrian’s Wall’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew and scores high points as it has two of my favourite things in it, a canal and a bridge.  It is at Butterley.

Butterly Canal

It was a beautiful day with a hint of genuine warmth about it but still with enough bite in the light wind to keep you from shedding garments recklessly.

I had a walk round the garden and was very impressed by the force of this tulip.

flash tulip

The chief business of the morning was a trip to England to visit our friend Sue for lunch and an outing.

We got there safely and took a walk round her garden where there was a lot to see….

sue's garden

…and then we enjoyed an excellent lunch before setting off in the little white zingy thingy to see how it got on in narrow lanes with many steep ups and downs.

It went well and in no time at at all we found ourselves on the other side of the valley at Hadrian’s Wall and parked beside Banks East Turret, one of the mile castles that were built into the wall.  You can see the remains of the wall itself in the centre of the picture below….

hardian's wall

…and there is a fair bit left of the mile castle too…

milecastle 56

…though it would have been more impressive when it was originally built.

poster of milecastle 56

This is the view looking south from the wall.

view from milecastle 56

Sue then took us into the back country on the north side of the wall and we finally parked on open moorland next to a secretive RAF facility at Spadeadam.  Curiously, we could see an old aeroplane resting among the heather near to the car park.  It may be a used as a marker for virtual target practice.

plane at spadeadam

We sensibly went in the opposite direction towards the River Irthing and after a short plod across some flat and boggy ground, found ourselves on the edge of a deep gorge where the River Irthing flows over the Crammel Linn waterfall.

Crammel Linn waterfall

It looked so smooth and regular at first sight that I almost took it for a sluice but a closer look shows that it is flowing over an impressive 10m rocky ledge.

Crammel Linn waterfall close

Sue told us that it a popular bathing spot in summer and enterprising young people dive or jump off the central buttress into the pool below.  The gorge was too steep to allow me to clamber down to river level so we admired the falls from a distance and headed back to the car.

The gorge narrows downstream from the waterfall and it is hidden from sight by this impressive river of birch trees.

trees at Spadeadam

The little white car took us back down into the valley and then up the other side to Sue’s house with no difficulty.  Steep hills do not seem to pose the electric motor any problem and the simple controls make driving on narrow winding roads stress free.

After a cup of tea, we thanked Sue for taking us on such an interesting excursion and set off home.

We ended up having driven 80 miles but using less than half of the battery charge so it would seem that it would not be unreasonable in the summer months to expect to be able to drive 140 miles without having to worry about recharging.  Of course this is achieved by driving steadily and without hurrying, but that is my preferred mode anyway these days so it is no hardship.

Once we got home, I cut a little mount for Mrs Tootlepedal’s latest embroidery, using the mount cutter which I share with Sandy, then conferred with my sister Mary about a very obscure clue in the day’s prize crossword and finally went off to stretch my tendon by cycling a gentle five miles.

I got distracted by carpets of bluebells on the open hillside beside the road.

bessie bell's bluebells 4

This is quite an unusual sight as bluebells are woodland flowers and it doesn’t happen every year as vividly as this.

Unfortunately, the sun had slipped off down the valley by the time that I had climbed up the hillside…

View from bessie bells

…but I enjoyed the colour all the same.

bessie bell's bluebells 3

There were bluebells on every side and I can only think that sheep don’t like the taste otherwise there would be none left.

bessie bell's bluebells with sheep

These open hill bluebells were much shorter than the ones that I recently photographed among the trees.

bessie bell's bluebells 2

I hoped that the sun might come out again but when it stayed behind the clouds, I went back to my bike and pedalled off up the road…

bessie bell's bluebells 1

…closely supervised by the sheep.

sheep spectating

Although the day’s two short walks were a bit uncomfortable, the cycling was pain free and if the good weather continues, I might try a longer ride next week.

In all this excitement, I didn’t have time to look for a flying bird and the crouching bird of the day is a partridge.  It arrived very early in the morning and spent three hours perched on our outside windowsill.

partridge on window sill

You can’t see it in the picture but it has sustained some damage to the other side of its neck.  It might have been attacked by a cat or caught its head in netting, I suppose.  We wondered whether it would need help, but by the time we left to go to Sue, it had moved round the house to another windowsill in the sunshine, and by the time that we came home, it had disappeared.  We hope it is OK.


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Today’s guest picture, which was sent to me by yesterday’s visitor Dylan, shows his sister Tash’s pet dragon.  It may not look much now but just wait a couple of years and stand back when it learns to breath fire.


A sunny morning warmed our aged bones as Dropscone and I headed out to Gair on our usual morning run after breakfast.  The noticeable breeze which made the outward journey hard work, strengthened a little when we turned for home and we enjoyed  the spin back over the hill with a final headlong rush down the hill towards our coffee and scones.

Our timing was good as we got back before it started to rain quite heavily.  Well, at least my timing was good as I was indoors but Dropscone had to brave the rain as he pedalled home after coffee.

There wasn’t any time for taking photographs after the rain had stopped because Mrs Tootlepedal, Granny and I went out for a motor excursion to Lanercost Priory to have a light lunch.  We stopped at Longtown to buy some spare inner tubes as both Mrs Tootlepedal and I have had recent punctures.  I know that it is possible to mend punctures by the road side and I have done it but my experience is that you often have to mend them again shortly afterwards so these days, I prefer to cycle with a spare inner tube in my back pocket.

The sun was out as we drove south and it was a lovely day when we arrived at Lanercost.  After a meal in the café there, I left the ladies and took a quick stroll round the Priory, camera in hand.  Needless to say, the sun promptly went in.  There has been a lot of very well done restoration at Lanercost.

Lanercost Priory


Though the main entrance is lacking a little grandeur.


Half of the building is still used as a church…..

Lanercost Priory

…while the other half remains a ruin.

Lanercost Priory

I didn’t go inside but peeped through doors and windows instead.

The buildings around the priory and its farm have been treated very well and you can rent some of them out as holiday homes.

Lanercost Priory

It would be very peaceful here if it wasn’t  for the incessant clicking of visitors’ cameras.

I stopped taking pictures and came back to the visitor centre to meet Granny and Mrs Tootlepedal.  The sun came out again.

Lanercost Priory

We drove on a few miles to visit Hadrian’s Wall at the Banks Milecastle.  This famous wall was built by the Romans to stop the English escaping into Scotland after the Romans occupied the southern half of the British isles.

In many places most of the stone used to build the wall was taken for housing after the Romans left and there are only small sections left.  There were milecastles every mile along the wall and you can still the remains of one at Banks…

Hadrian's Wall

…as well as a short section of wall foundations.  Of course the sun went in as I got out of the car to take these pictures.

Hadrian's Wall

The view south from the milecastle is very good.

Hadrian's Wall

We took a few very quiet and narrow roads before rejoining the main road to Longtown and got back to Langholm in beautiful sunshine just in time to watch the end of the third stage of the Tour de France as it arrived in London (where it was raining).

After the stage ended, I watched a bird or two…

siskins behaving badly

Siskins behaving badly

…..put a new inner tube into Mrs Tootlepedal’s back tyre  and walked round the garden.

Martagon Lily

The Martagon Lilies are almost over


The Alstroemeria are in full flower

Icelandic Poppies

And these Icelandic Poppies continue to produce new blooms.

A green nicotiana

A self sown nicotiana has beaten Mrs Tootlepedal’s greenhouse grown plants into flower.

The sun was too bright now for photographing flowers so I mowed the middle lawn instead.

I had to leave the sunshine when my flute pupil Luke came for his lesson.  He has a good ear and was able to work out the correct fingering for the major scales of B flat, E flat and A without any help from me.   We had a good lesson.

After tea  of delicious slow cooked lamb stew, I went out into the garden to enjoy the late evening sunshine.


Ligularias in the sunshine…

Rosa Mundi

…and Rosa Mundi in the shade

After a last glance at the mowed lawn….

middle lawn

It has been a very good year for grass.

….I went inside to look through the pictures that I had taken during the day.

In the other room, Mrs Tootlepedal and Granny were watching a programme about University Challenge and Mrs Tootlepedal called me through when Edinburgh University was mentioned and for two whole seconds, my youthful features appeared on the screen from 50 years ago.  They keep that clip in the archives because one of our team members went on to become a cabinet minister so mine was only reflected glory.

Two more sparring siskins share the proud position of being flying bird of the day.

flying siskins




middle lawn



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Today’s picture shows an Icelandic poppy in the garden.  They win the prize for flowering longest.


Warning for those with not a lot of time to waste: This may not be the post for you as it has far too many pictures in it.

The reason for the plethora of photography  is the Benty Show.  This horticultural show takes place in the village of Bentpath in the parish of Westerkirk, six miles north of Langholm.  It has a photographic section and both Sandy and I had entered pictures so after breakfast, I picked him up and we went up the road to put our photos into the tent.

The Benty tent

As befits a small village, it is a modest show and this tent holds all the entries except for…..

The sheep

…the sheep. Unusually for a flower show, there are a number of locally bred sheep classes for the local sheep farmers.  The animals are entered as they come and no primping is permitted.  They still look handsome enough though.


As we left the field, Sandy bumped into a couple of old friends.

Sandy & co

Scarecrows are very popular at local shows these days. You can drive through whole villages of them in places.

We retired to Wauchope Cottage for a coffee and Sandy duly admired the new kitchen, although there is still work to be done.

When he left, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle to get some bits and bobs and size up potential tiles for the kitchen.  I stared out of the window.

 busy feeder

The feeder was as busy as ever with birds queueing up all day.

insistent siskin

An insistent siskin

There was a good selection of the tit family in attendance.  Here we see a coal tit, a great tit and a kamikaze blue tit.

coal, great and blue tit

The well drawn robin was back.


While Mrs Tootlepedal was in Carlisle, I had gone to the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre and bought a couple of treats for lunch among other things.  Not everyone would think that a macaroni cheese pie is a delicacy but Mrs Tootlepedal enjoyed it a lot.

After lunch and some more work on the kitchen, we headed back up to the Benty and were just in time to see the runners in the hill race set off.

early leaders

The early leaders at the bottom of the hill.

A steep climb

It’s a steep climb

The summit

The leader turns at the summit flag

the plunge downhill

The plunge downhill


The winner

The eventual winner at the bottom of the hill

He is being encouraged by his father, a former winner of the race, who is currently suffering from an injured shoulder caused by a cycling accident.

A hound trail was being run at the same time as the hill race and shortly after the first runners came down the hill, a flood of hounds followed them down.


and caught up some of the slower runners.

hounds and runners

But the hounds arrived safely….

winning hound

The winning hound gets his reward.

The runners had to go a bit further…


…passing some resting hounds on their way.


We crossed back over the Esk…

The Esk at Bentpath

Although it had been very cloudy at Langholm, the weather was beautiful at the Benty.

…and went to the tent to see how our photos had done.  Sandy had won a first in the landscapes and I had got a first in the flower pictures so we were both pleased.  Except for the views, the photos are limited to 7 by 5 inches and are displayed without mounts,  crammed together on stands so although there were a lot of fine pictures in the show, it didn’t make for such a good display as at Canonbie where the photos were larger and had more space.

We went outside to find more dogs in action in the terrier racing.

terrier racing

Ready, steady, go

The overall prize for most points in the photo section was won by Langholm postman, Stan, a very keen photographer.  Here we see him on the left being photographed in turn for the local paper and on the the right, the hill race runner walking away with his prize.

Stan and Matthew

Sandy, Mrs Tootlepedal and I enjoyed a cup of tea and a cake in the hall and then headed for home.  I had one last look back at the field as we left.  The hill in the background was the scene of the hound trail and the hill race.

The Benty Show field

I am sure that if you look at Sandy’s blog, you will find another view of the day there.

When we got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had to go out and water the hanging baskets in the High Street.  In spite of all the rain, some of them were very dry indeed and needed a drink.

On her return, she had a quick snack and we headed off again.  This time we were going to Hadrian’s Wall to see an art event which our daughter Annie had pointed out to us.  It had grand themes of communication and continuity and was part of the London 2012 celebrations.  It was called Connecting Light and was a large scale installation along the wall.  We first arrived at a visible part of it at Birdoswald Fort.

Connecting Light at Birdoswald

You can just make out the Roman Wall itself in the foreground.

The installation consisted of lanterns on poles, although they were described as light filled balloons.  They changed colour rather slowly according to the message that they were sending along the line but as we had no means of decoding this, they just took the form of large meaninglessly changing globes.  They looked very nice in the gloaming but as it was raining by this time, we didn’t stay long.

the light filled balloons

We drove along very narrow, very crowded roads to Wall Crags, where the next viewing point was.  The car park was packed and the event had certainly brought the crowds out on a rainy evening. Owing to leaving home in a bit of a rush, we hadn’t really considered that a torch might be a good thing in the dark and after a walk along a very gloomy road and a glimpse of more balloons across a field, we decided to head for home.  As we went, we caught sight of more of the installation near Carlisle but on the whole we felt that it had all been a bit tamer than the magnificent ribbon of light that we had imagined we would see.  Still, we were glad to have seen it at all.

By the time we got home, I felt that I had had a busy day.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.



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