Posts Tagged ‘Hawick’

Today’s guest picture is another of Tony’s seals among the seaweed.  That looks like an eider duck in the background.

another tony seal

Apology: There are far too many pictures in today’s post.  If you like garden pictures of flowers, birds, bees and butterflies scroll rapidly through to the end and if you like views start at the beginning and miss the finish.   For some inexplicable reason I was a bit tired when it came to sorting the photos out and I couldn’t summon up the energy to throw many away.

After another rainy night (2cms), the morning was grey but dry and importantly from my point of view, the wind was a great deal calmer than of late.

The church choir is still on holiday and I am resting my rather ragged voice so while Mrs Tootlepedal cycled off to sing, I got my bike out.  The forecast rather improbably suggested that if I set off cycling north, I would find the wind behind me but by the time that I had got to Hawick, 23 miles away, it would have come round and would blow me back south again.

I set off northwards with hope in my heart but a considerable degree of scepticism in my mind.

The ride started well with a view of a large family of goosanders just above the Langholm Bridge.

goosander family

The wind did indeed help me up the hill to Mosspaul and crossing the watershed there improved the weather too.


Looking back in some welcome sunshine at the grey clouds that I had left behind

The helpful wind didn’t quite last all the way to Hawick and it was evidently doing what the forecasters had suggested and coming round to the north so I had to push a bit harder for the last five miles.  The recent rains have got the rivers flowing now, and there was plenty of water rushing down the Slitrig Burn in the middle of the town.

Slitrig Burn

The nearby sculpture….

Hawick sculpture

…looks strangely out of place in a borders town but celebrates the moment when the Turnbull family got its name.  (By turning a bull!)

The ride up to Hawick had been very enjoyable and the changing of the wind was very encouraging so instead of just turning round myself and going back by the same road, I decided to follow the Slitrig Burn and come home by the scenic route.

garmin route 19 Aug 2018

Up on the left and back on the right

The journey back by Whitrope summit and Liddesdale has much the same shape as the journey up over Mosspaul but as you can see from the elevation profile above, it is slightly longer and the the hill is bigger, topping out at about 1100 feet.  However both parts of the journey have very steady gradients and very little gratuitous loss of height so with the wind behind, as it was both ways today, they offer no great challenge to the elderly cyclist.

I saw some things as I cycled along the valley bottom beside the Slitrig burn.

mill wheelpig

Once up in the hills, there are extensive views…

view at Shankend

..with added viaduct.

Shankend viaduct

If the campaign to extend the Borders railway is successful, we might once again see train crossing the Shankend Viaduct.

Further on, I looked back northwards.  An information board told me that I was looking at the Catrail, a large and very long ditch.  Wikipedia tells me that: It is not known when or by whom the Catrail was made, or for what purpose. However, since it is not substantial enough to be an effective military barrier, it seems likely to have been a territorial boundary marker, possibly dating from the Early Middle Ages.

Since I couldn’t actually see the ditch, I enjoyed the splendid view instead.


From the same spot, I could see an excellent example of the modern land use….


…and a faint reminder of its former use.

sheep fold

A cycle sportive based in Hawick was taking place today and as I was going up the hill to the summit, I passed many cyclists going in the opposite direction to me.  As they were cycling into the wind and I wasn’t, I didn’t mind.  I had my wind assisted downhill still to come.

A small group of enthusiasts have preserved a mile or two of the old railway at the summit and I passed several parked items of rolling stock

Whitrope railway

Although the stock is a fine sight, it is nothing compared to the beauty of the road south.

Whitrope road

It is my favourite piece of road, especially on a day like today, sunny and with a light following wind and the knowledge of ten miles of gentle and continuous descent ahead.

The road and stream go down the hill together…

whitrope burn

And at this point the road crosses the stream by this fine bridge…

bridge and waterfall

…at the same time as the stream rushes across a small cascade.

As an added bonus, the bridge carries both moss and lichen for the delight of the discerning passer by..

moss and lichen

It became obvious that I was cycling a bit too fast down towards the village of Newcastleton as there were ominous black clouds ahead and the roads were getting progressively wetter so it was clear that I was catching up with a rain shower.

With this in mind, I sensibly stopped in a cafe in the village to have a cup of coffee and a toastie.  I would have had a rock bun too, which I had paid for, if they had given it to me but I got fed up with waiting and left unbunned.  I didn’t make a fuss because by the time that I realised that it wasn’t coming, I had spent too long sitting down and needed to get my legs working again.

The ten miles down to Canonbie, along the valley of the Liddle Water were the most undulating of the whole trip but the views are often delightful…


…and the general trend is downhill so with the wind still behind me, I kept up a reasonable speed.

I was expecting that the last six miles back to Langholm would be hard work into the wind but the road is well sheltered and it was easy enough.

I stopped at the Hollows Bridge to admire the rush of water coming down the Esk..

Esk from Hollows

…and pedalled home very happily.

Full details of the ride can be found by clicking here.

I did more climbing today than I have done in any ride this year but thanks to the gentle gradients and the excellent selection of low gears on my new bike, I managed to keep my tin knee turning over very sweetly and the whole ride was unalloyed pleasure.  With only one or two short rough sections, the road surfaces were pretty smooth and pothole free which makes cycling so much more enjoyable than when you have to keep your eyes stuck to the road surface ahead.

Mrs Tootlepedal was out volunteering at the Buccleuch Centre when I got back so I had gentle potter round the garden doing some dead heading and flower watching.

The theme was pink.

These are pink Japanese anemones, new in the garden last year.

pink Japanese anemone

You might think at first sight that I was in the vegetable garden but these are dicentra seeds with Lords and Ladies in the background.


And this is the dahlia of the day with added bee.


Mrs Tootlepedal had lifted the onions while I was out cycling and I found them hanging on the greenhouse to dry out.


Just as I got over Skippers Bridge on my way back into town on my bicycle, I had passed a lady looking at a big buddleia.  “Any butterflies?” I asked.  “Masses,” she replied. So I looked at our big buddleia.  There were a lot of butterflies on it too.

Peacock Butterfly pair

Some even posed for the camera.

Peacock Butterfly at full stretch

And among the peacocks, there was a lone red admiral…

red admiral butterfly

…which wouldn’t pose properly for me.

The Michaelmas daisies beside the buddleia had lots of bees

bee on daisy

I went in to have a cup of tea and set the bird watching camera up.  The calmer weather had brought them back into the garden.

There were several blue tits about.


And the usual sparring sparrows.


The very white sparrow is getting some colour…


..and there was a white feathered jackdaw about too.


The jackdaws take a good portrait.


Mrs Tootlepedal finally got back from a long screening at the Buccleuch Centre where she had been helping with front of house duties and we rounded off the day with a tasty liver casserole followed by nectarines and cream on a meringue base.  (The meringue bases come in packets of eight so we get four treats from a packet.)

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow getting close up and personal.


Sorry about the over length post but it was such a treat getting a good day after all the drizzle that I couldn’t help myself.


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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend and ex colleague Marjorie, who spotted this little fellow near her house.

Meikleholm frog

We had another sunless day today, a little warmer than of late and a little less windy.  The strain of watching the Olympics is taking its toll with several late nights and I didn’t do anything in the morning except buy a couple of rolls and two bananas.

I filled the rolls with cheese and tomatoes, put them and the bananas in a bag and set off on the fairly speedy bike at about midday.

After yesterday’s more interesting than usual route, I was in adventurous mood and crossed from the Esk to the Liddle valley by way of Claygate and then cycled up through Newcastleton.  We are very envious in the Archive Group because they have a heritage centre, having being given the use of an old church.

Newcastleton heritage centre

It is run by volunteers and wasn’t open when I passed by.  I am not impressed by their strap line which says,” Looking forward into our history,” which even by the standards of vacuous company slogans stands out as being particularly  meaningless.

After I left the village and continued northwards, I kept an eye out for bridges as the road crosses and recrosses the river.  I have mentioned  before that riparian owners are very inconsiderate towards bridge lovers and let all sorts of stuff get in the way of a good view.

Liddle bridge

Hermitage water bridge

At least that second bridge at Hermitage Hall had a very fine selection of lichen on the parapet.

hermitage lichen

Once I had got past the Hermitage road end, clearer bridges appeared.


This one comes with its own waterfall….

bridge waterfall

..which makes the river disconcertingly higher on one side of the bridge than the other.

I crossed a final bridge….

Whitrope road bridge

…before getting on to my favourite part of this road, the steady climb to Whitrope Summit.

road to Whitrope summit

If you haven’t come up this road before, it comes as a surprise to meet a railway bridge and on this occasion, a parked locomotive right at the top of the hill.

Whitrope summit railway

The locomotive belongs to a group of enthusiasts who have been painstakingly restoring a short length of the old Waverely Line here.

Whitrope Summit

Although it was open for visitors, I resisted the temptation to get on board and cycled over the summit and down the other side towards Hawick.

There are excellent views from the summit….

View from Whitrope summit

…but I was so puffed from pedalling up the hill that I didn’t notice that they were in black and white.

Further down the hill, I passed the Shankend Viaduct…

Shankend viaduct

…a fifteen arch construction, one of the finest on the line.

Shankend viaduct

I was glad to get this view becuase the trees will soon block it off which will be a pity.

I cycled on down the hill into Hawick, stopping to nod at a couple of donkeys beside the road…


…and settling down to eat my rolls when I got there.

I had been following the Slitrig burn through the narrow gap in the hills which gives it its name.  At Hawick it plunges beneath the road and several buildings…

Slitrig Burn

…and I was able to sit in the courtyard above to to eat my snack.

There was a pretty house across the road…

Hawick house

…beside a large building which began life as a fortified tower, became a large mill and is now a museum.

Tower Mill

I don’t know where that sepia filter came from.

The route back to Langholm was very dull compared with the outward journey as I just went straight down the main road.  The light but persistent wind in my face made it a bit of a grind and I was more than happy when I finally got home.

Those interested can see the details by clicking on the map as usual.

Garmin Route 14 Aug 2016

I have had three good days of cycling recently so in spite of the grey and dull weather, I am not complaining, a very rare thing for me.

I had no energy left for flowers or flying birds but I have got a flying neighbour, spotted last night with a friend looking over the fence from the platform he has built to pick up some gardening tips from Mrs Tootlepedal.


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Today’s guest picture shows a bridge over the River Otter in Devon taken by my sister Mary who was visiting friends nearby.

The River OtterWe had another day of wall to wall sunshine today and we are getting used to having some good weather at last without having to worry about the next rain shower.  It is a bit unnerving but very enjoyable.

Being Sunday, after breakfast Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir  and I made a lamb stew for the slow cooker and then got the fairly speedy bike out and set out to make the best of a lovely day.

It was only nine degrees C at breakfast time so I didn’t rush my preparations but it was still chilly enough when I did set out to require a couple of layers of clothing.

Being Sunday, I was able to use the main road without being bothered by too much traffic so I pedalled north up the A7 to the neighbouring town of Hawick.  This is a trip that involves going gently uphill for ten miles and then gently downhill for the next twelve.  Today a light wind was behind me and it was as nice a cycling treat as I could wish.

I stopped to record the sun picking out the many needles on a monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria) at the top of the hill at Mosspaul.

araucariaThe hotel there seems to have come back to life as a holiday let after a spell of closure as a hotel.

Mosspaul InnAs you can see, there could hardly have been a bluer sky.

The twelve miles down the the hill to Hawick flashed by at twenty miles an hour, thanks to the favourable conditions.  It is possible to imagine when you have got a light wind behind you on a sunny day that your progress is entirely down to your own prowess but I knew that things were too good to last so I stopped at Hawick to eat a banana and a slice of fruity malt loaf at the Heritage Hub.

While I was nibbling, I walked about with my phone in camera mode.  There is a fine little cascade in the Slitrig burn just before it plunges into a tunnel under the Hub forecourt…

bull and burn hawick…and also under a statue of a man wrestling with a bull.  It commemorates the ‘turning of the bull’ by William Rule who saved the life of Robert the Bruce by this action.  From this came the family name of Turnbull.

My journey now turned to the south.garmin 6 Sept 15

Things became a bit harder and there was no more swanning about at 20 miles an hour for the rest of the day.  The next thirty miles were into a wind which got brisker as the hours passed.

Still, the road from Hawick to Newcastleton is very scenic and although it goes over 1000ft at Whitrope summit, the climbs are steady and the views more than enough consolation for the effort of pedalling up hill.

View fromm Slitrig roadToday saw the opening of part of the old Waverley railway line from Edinburgh to Carlisle.  The newly opened section, now called The Borders Railway only goes 35 miles from Edinburgh as far as Galashiels. My cycle route route was taking me down the still closed old section south of Hawick and there are (very faint) hopes that this too might reopen some day.

It would cross this fine viaduct at Shankend…

Shankend viaduct…and pass through the tunnel to Whitrope Summit where a team of enthusiasts have been painstakingly restoring a a few hundred yards of the old railway.  They had an open day today so I popped in as I went past.

Whitrope summitThe little railcar in the foreground was actually moving slowly up and down the track today.

Whitrope summitThey have an exhibition in an old railway carriage….

Whitrope summit…but I have visited it before so I didn’t linger today.  I talked to one of the enthusiasts who was rather sad that more of the many hundreds of people who had gone to ride on the first trains on the new railway hadn’t also come south to see their effort.  They had had about twenty visitors.

I ate some more of the provisions that I was carrying with me and then set off down the hill to Newcastleton.  This should have been unalloyed pleasure as it is a steady descent with few uphill sections to interrupt the flow but the wind had got quite brisk by this time and I had to pedal hard just to get going downhill.  In the end I was only half a mile an hour faster going 10  miles downhill with a loss of 600ft in elevation than I had been climbing 10 miles uphill to Mosspaul with a gain of 600ft.

It was no wonder that I stopped to take a picture of a charming bridge north of Hermitage on my way.

Bridge north of hermitageThe road I was on is one of my favourites…

Whitrope road…with a good surface and very little traffic and even into the stiff breeze, I enjoyed being on it.

When I got to Newcastleton, I stopped for my final snack and looked across the square at the two hotels on the village.

Grapes and Liddesdale

The Grapes and Liddesdale hotels

It makes you wonder what sort of community life led to having two hotels quite so close to each other.  Both had customers sitting outside today.

I was faced with a route choice when I had finished my snack.  I could either take on another 1000ft summit, crossing the hill road exposed to the full force of the wind in my face and go direct to Langholm (ten miles) or I could skulk along the Liddle valley down to Canonbie and then back up the Esk valley, hoping for some shelter from the wind and avoiding quite so much climbing.  I chose the latter but it is an undulating route and the shelter was not very forthcoming so my speed dropped even more before I got home.

Still, it was a more adventurous ride than I have been doing lately and at 60 miles and over 2000 ft of climbing,  I was pleased with my effort.

Those with time hanging heavy on their hands can click on the map to get details of the route and ride.

By coincidence, Mrs Tootlepedal was watching the Tour of Britain cycle race while I was out and I arrived home just in time to join her and see a fine sprint finish.  The Tour comes through our area on Tuesday and the professionals will be cycling up some of the route I used today…but probably a bit faster than me.  We hope to go and watch them.

After the race was over, we went out into the garden and I sieved a little compost and chased butterflies.

It is hard to believe that both the pictures below are of the same butterfly.

peacock butterflyThe Michaelmas daisies are a butterfly magnet and there were soon two of these pretty peacock butterflies to watch.

peacock butterflyI took a pair of poppy parade pictures of course…

poppies…and then went inside to do a little bird watching.  Chaffinches were arriving from all angles…..

chaffinches…but refusing to show their faces so I gave up and watched the highlights of the Italian F1 motor race instead.

The lamb stew turned out very well and that rounded off a good day.  I am expecting to sleep quite well tonight.

I did find one co-operative chaffinch to act as flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture was taken by my brother recently when walking part way along the Ruapehu round-the-mountain trail in NZ.  They are obliviously very keen on board walks there.

Ruapehu Round the Mountain partial tramp Sept 2014 - 11My day today, like all Gaul in the time of Julius Caesar, was divided into three parts.  The morning was spent cycling, the afternoon, recovering from cycling and the evening at a concert.  More or less the perfect day.

The cycling was a real treat and just what the doctor ordered to take my mind off the referendum.  Scott, the minister, was back on his bike after a short illness and was anxious for a decent pedal so I suggested a 50  mile circuit with three steady climbs and he agreed.  We met after breakfast and set out to the north into a noticeable wind.

Garmin 20 Sept 14The route took us up the A7 which was quiet enough on a Saturday morning to making pedalling a pleasure.  Scott is fitter than I am and was good enough to do the bulk of the leading into the wind so I was able to tag along behind his not insignificant frame, well sheltered from the breeze.

In this way, we got up to the top of the first of our three major hills at a good speed. We stopped there so that I could take a portrait on the minister being just that little bit closer to God.

About 800 feet closer in fact.

Scott at MosspaulSadly, the Mosspaul Hotel, once a cycling hotel, is shut again.  It seems like a hard place to generate customers these days.

Once over the top at Mosspaul, we had a gently downhill run to Hawick where we stopped for a banana where the Slitrig Burn disappears into a tunnel.

Slitrig BurnOur first hill had been just a taster of what was to come….

Garmin 20 Sept 14 elevation…and we needed a bit of fuel before following the Slitrig Burn….

Slitrig Burn…up to the Whitrope summit at 1214ft.

This is a beautiful bit of country and the views make the climb a pleasure, helped on this occasion by a following wind.  The gradient is very even when you get to the final climb so it is a matter of finding the right gear or the right pace and just going steadily.

There was not much view at the summit as we almost had our heads in the clouds.

Scott at WhitropeThe road from the top of Whitrope down into Newcastleton is a joy, 10 miles and 800 more or less uninterrupted feet of descent.

We stopped at Newcastleton for a cup of coffee with a squashed fly cake (Scott) and a toasted tea cake (me) as once again we needed a little fuel for our last challenge, the ten mile road across the moor to Langholm.

This involves climbing 800 feet back up to a 1112 ft summit in 4 miles…..

Langholm Moor……and then promptly losing 500 feet and having to climb a last 200 feet before plunging giddily down the side of Whita and back into Langholm. With the aid of strong hearts, good legs and a following wind, we achieved all this at just under 12 miles an hour, by far the quickest that I have ever done this section of road in recent times.

It was a treat to do this journey with Scott, as with his help on the upwind section and his speed down the long hills, he kept me going quite a bit faster than I would have gone if I had been  by myself.

As a side note, I recorded the ride on a  Garmin device and Scott used Strava on his phone.  The Garmin website says that I did 2700 ft of climbing.  When I look at the same ride on my Strava account it says that I did 3015 ft of climbing and Strava then claims that Scott did 3500 ft.  I shall obviously have to use Strava!   The elevation read outs from these GPS devices are not very reliable.

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had also put the morning to good use and had been working hard in the garden.   Sometimes the frequently wet weather gets to gardeners round here and they get a bit low but two warm and dry summers have set Mrs Tootlepedal’s enthusiasm for improvements alight and given some decent weather next year, the results should be a delight to see.

There is quite a lot of good stuff in the garden at present thanks to the present good spell.


Two types of sedum are flourishing.

cotoneaster and Virginia creeper

Cotoneaster and Virginia creeper make a colourful show. The Virginia Creeper has lasted far better this year than last.

honeysuckle and Fuchsia

Honeysuckle and Fuchsia berries.


And almost perfect pink poppies

Our autumn raspberries are fruiting so well that I am being forced to eat plates of raspberries and cream every night but I am bearing up very well in spite of this.

The birds were as cheerful and polite as ever.

bird feederLate in the afternoon,the light got a bit better and this gave me the chance to look for an insect or two.  They were not hard to find.


Some did try to hide.

poppy and insect

Some were small but perfectly formed.

red admiral butterfly

A red admiral shares the sedum with the inevitable bee.

Finally the sun actually came out and that made life easier for me.

Astrantia with bee

The astrantia is very popular with bees.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went along to the Buccleuch Centre to listen to Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain, two of the most accomplished and charming musicians and raconteurs you could hope to meet.  They play accordion and fiddle in a traditional but very sophisticated style and interweave the music with well polished humorous routines.  They have the huge added bonus of having a sound engineer who is not deaf and so they are not over amplified, a rare thing these days.

They come to Langholm fairly regularly and many of the tunes and quite a few of the anecdotes and jokes are old friends but they come over as fresh as a daisy so no one complains.

In between the pedalling, the resting and being entertained, I did catch a flying chaffinch of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Gavin, who had the energy to go and admire the River Annan in full spate yesterday.

Annan in flood

The weather was quite a bit kinder today which was fortunate as we had a 65 mile to Berwick-on-Tweed on the menu.  It hardly rained all day and the wind was very meek.

We set off after breakfast and made a brief stop in Hawick to pick up a cup which had been engraved for Mrs Tootlepedal.  She won it at the Langholm Show in the autumn for a splendid embroidery depicting the nuns in the Sound of Music following every rainbow….and climbing every mountain…and crossing every stream.   There was a lot of work in it.

We motored on past Kelso and over the Tweed into England at Coldstream until we arrived safely at Berwick.

Berwick and Coldstream

Berwick and and the bridge at Coldstream we crossed to get to it.

It is a geographical anomaly that although Scotland as a country is to the north of England, Berwick, the northernmost town in England is quite a long way to the  north of Langholm, one of the southernmost towns in Scotland.  This is because the powers that be foolishly ran the boundary down the middle of a river so that people who live in the in the same valley live in two different countries.

Still, it is a very pleasant drive.

We met our daughter Annabel bang on schedule and had a cup of reviving coffee followed by a quick tour of riverside Berwick.

The Tweed at Berwick

The old road bridge across the fast flowing Tweed.

Three bridges

The old bridge, the new bridge and the famous railway bridge.

The town is surrounded by a defensive wall and as you walk along below it, there are many little entries.

Berwick walls

We walked up onto the wall at Sandgate.

Berwick wall

You can walk right wound the town.  I quote from the visit Northumberland websiteL

Berwick actually has two sets of walls, the first – of which only fragments now remain – was built by Edward II, and was two and a half miles long.
The second set of walls is a mile and three-quarter in length. The ramparts completely surround the town, and there are only four gates through the walls.
Berwick’s wall is now the only intact Elizabethan town wall remaining in England and when it was built in 1558 – designed to keep out the marauding Scots who regularly laid claim to the town – it was the most expensive undertaking of England’s golden age.
The walls were built to an Italian design and contained bastions which were designed to give fire cover for every part of the wall.
Outside the curtain wall, as well as round the bastions, there were wide ditches kept full of water in order to deter potential invaders.

What the website doesn’t say is that they were never used in anger which may be why they have survived so well.

We didn’t walk round them as we wanted to drive south down the North Sea coast before lunch.  We were thinking of looking at Holy Island but as it started to rain heavily, we passed that by and stopped at Bamburgh Castle instead.

We had an exciting moment on the way.

This was an east coast mainline train whizzing by. It is the only state owned railway company in the country and is both popular and profitable.  Since this is an offence to the beliefs of the present government, they are going to sell it….probably to a state owned railway company of France or Germany.  This presumably makes sense to someone but not to me.

By the time we got to Bamburgh, the rain had stopped and we went for a walk round the castle.

Bamburgh castle

We followed a path through the sand dunes to the right of the castle.

Bamburgh beach

There were a good many others who were enjoying a walk too but there was plenty of room for us all.

You can see one of the Farne islands in the background.

You can see one of the Farne islands in the background.

I was beginning to regret that I had not brought a camera with me and was having to rely on my phone.

Turning back from the sea, the castle looked impressive on its rock.

Bamburgh castle

We went back to the dunes and followed a good path right round the castle and back to the car.

We were looking for a place for lunch so we drove inland towards the Cheviot Hills and the little town of Wooler.  We passed a really elegant bridge over the River Till on our way.

River Till

Once in Wooler,  we found just the place….

Wooler cafe

…unassuming in appearance but warm and comfortable inside and purveying first class egg, sausage, black pudding and chips for our lunch.

After lunch, we had a stroll round the town to shake the chips down and noticed that Wooler seemed to have a lot of churches.  We were admiring this one…

Wooler church

..when the lady whom you can see in the picture, came up and remarked that it was even odder inside.  She told us that the original building had been a simple square box and the tower and the crenellated roof were later additions.  When we looked at the stonework, we could see that she was quite clearly right.

It had some very nice windows round the back.

windows wooler church

The day was drawing on now and we wanted to be home before dark so we got back into the car and headed home.  We made a brief stop again in Hawick, this time to pick up some food from Sainsbury’s.  We were very pleased to see a most unusual sight when we came out.

sunset over Sainsbury's

A touch of blue sky.

The clouds gathered again as we headed south and I really wished that I had had my camera with me as we crossed the Teviot as the colours were terrific.  We stopped for a better look.

Sunset over Teviot

My phone could capture the reflections in the river and the huge puddle in the field beyond it but it couldn’t record the glimpse of blue sky at the heart of the brightness behind.  It is a lesson to me not to come out without a good camera in hand or pocket.  It was a glorious sight though and I will have to be content with just seeing it.

We reluctantly got back in the car and completed our journey.  The timing was very neat and we arrived just as the last of the daylight faded away.

We all agreed that it had been a splendid day out and we all collapsed into chairs to recover from it over a nice cup of tea.

There was no time for a flying bird today so I will end on a perching picture of a stonechat at Bamburgh taken by my daughter with her new camera.  This is the first one of these that I have ever knowingly seen.









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Today’s picture is a blue tit on the bird feeder blue tit

A look at the weather forecast last night had told me that an early start to any bicycling round Langholm today would be a good idea. This proved to be correct and an 8.30 start got me round the morning run before a persistent drizzle set in. I had got the speedy bike back from the bike doctor who said that he could hear no clicking noises so I was anxious to give it a try to see if this was true. To my great relief, the clicking noises seems to have gone. I can only assume that when Kevin took the hub to bits a day or two ago, some tiny fragment of dirt was removed too. I shall keep my fingers crossed in the hope that the noise doesn’t return too soon.

I had a bath after my ride and then a quick lunch in the shape of a tomato and cheese sandwich. The quick lunch was so that we could pack the bikes in the Kangoo and get off to Hawick. Mrs Tootlepedal had expressed a wish for a strenuous pedal and we had agreed on a 20 mile route starting and finishing in Hawick and taking in some new roads that neither of us had cycled on before.The weather forecast had suggested that Hawick was the best bet for dodging the rain.

It was raining quite hard when we left and it continued to drizzle down all the way to Hawick and we were considering scrapping the whole idea. We got the bikes out in the car park and after a bit of havering, we set off up the Newcastleton road. It was cold and windy but it wasn’t actually raining by the time we started. The first five miles were up hill all the way and into the fresh breeze.  It was hard work.

The hill from Stobs Castle

Mrs Tootlepedal grinding up the steep hill from Stobs Castle

At the top of this hill, we turned left onto a new road to us which we had neither cycled or driven along before. It doesn’t look anything special when you start along it.


It is all pleasant cycling country but after another three miles of steady uphill, we were rewarded by splendid views almost in a complete circle. We will certainly come back when the weather is better to enjoy them in full.


The Eildons to the northeast


Ruberslaw in front of us

The Cheviots

The Cheviots to the southeast

We had climbed 180 metres over eight miles to get here but it was definitely worth it, even on this gloomy day. Mrs Tootlepdal particularly enjoyed the next mile which was pretty well straight and at a very nice nice downhill angle.

The downhill section

The downhill section

She touched 30 mph while free wheeling which to her is cycling heaven. We turned onto the Bonchester Bridge-Hawick road for a mile and we were buzzed by an  enthusiast flying a radio controlled plane in very windy conditions on the top of a ridge. We soon turned off and enjoyed a good swoop downhill into Denholm.

Here we crossed the Teviot and turned to follow it back into Hawick.


The Teviot below Denholm

The five miles back into Hawick were hard work into the breeze again and up and down endless little hills. However, we made it and rewarded ourselves with a visit to the cafe in the new Sainsburys in the town. Mrs Tootlepedal enjoyed the special cream tea , while I had a slice of cake with more calories than you could count in it. We did a little shopping while we in the place and under the supervision of a kind lady, we used the customer check out. We were impressed by the range of goods on offer which are unavailable in Langholm and may be tempted to go back now and then in spite of my objections to supermarkets in general.

It started to pour with rain on the road back to Langholm but soon after we arrived home it stopped so in the end we certainly got the best of the day as Dropscone told me that it had been raining in Langholm almost all day.

There were no new flowers out to photograph but fortunately, the bird feeders were very busy in the evening.

chaffinch flying sparrow

A chaffinch is threatened by a sparrow


A siskin proves to be a careless eater

collared dove

A collared dove is a beneficiary as it picks up the pieces

flying chaffinch

A chaffinch executes a handbrake turn

unmoved chaffinch

This female chaffinch is unmoved by flapping

chaffinch flying sparrow

A sparrow who hasn't realised that the feeder has only one usable side

chaffinch toehold

A chaffinch gets a literal toe hold on the feeder

female chaffinch toehold

A female chaffinch gets a toe hold too

snarling greenfinch

A snarling greenfinch. It's not easy to snarl with your mouth full.

greenfinch flying sparrow

A greenfinch ignores a fluttering sparrow

two greenfinches

My favourite greenfinch posture

I expect to sleep quite well tonight after 40 miles in the saddle.

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