Posts Tagged ‘Lake District’

This is yesterday’s post today.  I didn’t get home until nearly midnight last night and I had many pictures to look through this morning.  The result is a post with too many pictures but I have tried to keep the commentary to a minimum to spare those long suffering souls who politely read to the very end of posts.

I had received a very kind invitation from an old friend to have a meal in Keswick and then go to see a performance of As You Like It at the Theatre by the Lake.  I was happy in three ways as I hadn’t seen the friend for a couple of years, I like a bit of Shakespeare and it is always a treat to visit the Lake District.

A check on the weather forecast revealed that there might be some dry weather about so after a long talk to BT customer services about why their WiFi app wouldn’t work on my phone and a quick quick look at the garden….

cornflower, honeysuckle and poppy

…I set off south at midday.

The drive was uneventful and I caught my first glimpse of the Lake District’s hills when I could see Blencathra as I drove down the A66.


The traffic wasn’t as heavy as I feared for a Saturday in August and I soon drove through Keswick and parked by the side of Derwent Water.

Derwent Water

It looks very peaceful in that shot but I was far from the only person enjoying the views and the lake.

Derwent Water

Other means of transport were available.

Derwent water

There was plenty of water in the lake.

Derwent water

I had driven through a heavy shower on my way and the weather couldn’t quite make up its mind to be a fine day but there were several sunny spells and no more rain as I walked about.

I walked along the waterside first and looked about.

Derwent water

Derwent Isle

It is hard to stop taking pictures when you are in the Lake District. I went as far as Friars Crag.

Derwent Water

A neatly accommodated tree

Derwent Water

The view across the lake

Derwent Water

They love a literary connection in the Lakes if they can find one

Derwent Water

A view from the Crag

Derwent Water

Looking down to the bottom of the lake from the crag.  It was rather gloomy down there.

Derwent Water

A sheep.  They are mostly responsible for the bare hills round the lake. Some see them as preservers of the landscape, others as vandals responsible for a eco wilderness.  Take your pick.

I wasn’t wandering lonely as a cloud.

Derwent Water

Customers for the next boat tour of the lake

I had made a sandwich for lunch before I left home but as I had left it at home, I had lunch in a cafe near the lake instead and then walked through Hope Park….

Hope Park Keswick

It has a nice mixture of free…..

Hope Park Keswick

…and formal planting

…and into the town of Keswick.

It is a tourist hotspot and in spite of all the lovely hills waiting to be tramped over, the streets were crammed with visitors.


There was a market in the centre of town..


…and many other temptations for tourists

I crossed the River Greta on a fine iron bridge….

Greta Bridge

…and headed for the hills behind the town, crossing the park and cricket ground on my way.


Skiddaw, a 3000ft peak looms over the town


I walked up a back road through through woods and fields


A lull in the traffic on the main road between visitors coming and going


I got high enough for a good view back over the town


The view away from the lake was also very beautiful


Clouds sped across the sky


Half farmhouse and half castle


I think that this is the wonderfully named hill, Catbells


The downside of being a popular walking destination – eroded tracks. I can count about 18 people on that path.

I walked back through the town and Hope Park.


A typical slate building, now a guest house of course


The slates come in smooth and rough


I thought the pencil museum might be too exciting for me so I passed it by


Lovely planting in the Park garden

I had time for a last look at the lake….

Derwent water

…in the sun.   Behind me, Blencathra….


…and Skiddaw looked most inviting.


A well worn track led to the summit….


I took part in the Skiddaw Fell race in my younger days but we didn’t use that track.  It was memorable for the horrendous blisters I got from running back down the hill on a stony path.

It was time now to cease from contemplating the beauties of nature and turn to the pleasures of fine dining, interesting conversation and high culture.  They were all very good too so this was definitely a day firmly inked in on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

The flying bird of the day is a very haughty ram which was taking part in a sheep demonstration near the lake.



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Today’s guest picture was taken by my daughter Annie and shows some old gentleman or other in the garden on a wet day at Dalemain in Cumbria.


Our daughter was visiting for a couple of days so naturally the rain clouds set in and it was a miserable morning.  A quick check on the weather forecast showed that it was going to go on being miserable all day so what could be better than an excursion?  Nothing.

The forecast had suggested that it might rain slightly more gently in the Penrith area around lunchtime so we headed off in that direction.  Our first stop was at Dalemain, a fine house on the edge of the Lake District.


You can buy a ticket for a tour of the house or one for a tour of the garden and as it was raining quite steadily, we naturally chose the garden.  It was beautiful, even in the rain.  There were gorgeous flowers on every side…



Great views in the garden…


…and lovely views from the garden….



One of the highlights was a display of meconopsis set against rhododendrons that even in the rain positively glowed with colour.


It was pleasantly warm and the garden was well sheltered and we enjoyed the stroll immensely.  We will certainly come back again.

As well as the garden, we visited the Great Barn…

Great Barn Dalemain

…which houses a display of old machinery of all sorts including early washing machines, agricultural implements and transport of various kinds.


We passed by an old gentlemen who was feeding great tits from his hand in the courtyard and we waved at a passing deer…


…as we left and headed down to Pooley Bridge at the top of Ullswater.  Annie was keen to see a lake while in the Lake District.

The weather forecast didn’t let us down and the rain eased for a while as we walked along the lakes shore.

Ullswater steamer

The Ullswater steamer was waiting for a cruise


Some swans were already out there.


Mrs Tootlepedal and Annie walking along the lake shore


A glimpse of the lake


It wasn’t a day for seeing the tops of the hills.

We were in full tourist mode by now and soon left the lake as the rain started and headed across country to Larch Cottage Nurseries.  This, as well as being an excellent garden centre, has a nice café.  We were too late for lunch and made do with a cake or scone each.  This was the view from the window as we sipped our coffee.

Larch Cottage

Larch Cottage is a most unusual garden centre but it has featured in the blog before and as it was pouring with rain while we walked round, I only took one picture today.  This was a combination of blue plants that really appealed to Mrs Tootlepedal.

Larch Cottage

I was much struck by the red flowers on this chestnut tree at the entrance to the car park.  I have never registered seeing one of these before but I saw three today in various places.


There is no doubt that it won’t be too long before we are back in this part of the country but once again the rain ensured that we didn’t stay too long today and at my daughter’s suggestion, we were soon driving up the valley of the river Eden to see one of the largest bronze age stone circles in England.

This was Long Meg and Her Daughters near Little Salkeld.

Even in the rain, this was an impressive sight and site.  It is far too big for a ground based photographer to do it justice.

Long Meg

The stone are in varying states of uprightness


The circle is very large with a road running through it

Long Meg

Long Meg is the large stone on the left, the other stones are her daughters.

I had seen this on the map but I didn’t realise that it was such an impressive site on the ground.  I am surprised that so little is made of it.  There was no information board or proper car park.  I can only assume that the land owner is not keen on visitors.

We drove back home on quiet country roads line with buttercups and cow parsley as far as Brampton and then whizzed up the last twenty miles on main roads in pursuit of a well earned cup of tea.

Although it had rained for pretty well the whole of the outing, it had been very successful and the wet weather had hardly dampened our enthusiasm at all.

After a quick pasta meal for tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I left Annie at home to get on with her crochet while we went off to our local choir practice.  I had a young lad sitting next to me who could not only sing very nicely but could also pitch those tricky notes correctly so I enjoyed myself.  As the song says, I can get by with a little help from my friends.

The visit to the lake side provided me with a welcome flying bird of the day.

flying gull





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Today’s guest picture is another from my neighbour Liz’s venture to New Zealand.  It shows Tane Mahuta, thought to be the oldest Kauri tree in NZ  at 2000 years old and with a  height of 51.5 meters and a girth of 13.8 metres.

Tane Mahuta

Yesterday I had suggested a jaunt to the Lake District to Mrs Tootlepedal for today and she received the idea with enthusiasm as she thought that she would like to visit the very spot where Wordsworth and Dorothy saw the ‘host of golden daffodils’.

The forecast was quite good and so my theoretical plan was to leap out of bed at half past seven and go for a cycle ride before breakfast, leaving us plenty of time for our trip.  In the event,  I managed to bring the plan to fruition, amazing both myself and Mrs Tootlepedal.   It was a beautiful morning and although the temperature was only a meagre three degrees C, the cheerful sunshine kept the frost off the road and made pedalling a pleasure.

As we set off, the sky began to cloud over and sadly the best of the day had already gone as far as the weather went.   It stayed dry though and the sun shone for brief periods from time to time.

Our target was the shore of Ullswater…


…one of the larger lakes in the Lake District.  As you can see , it had got quite cloudy by the time that we arrived.  Wordsworth’s host of daffodils turned out to be rather more of a smattering than an army….

daffodils at Ullswater

…though I think they will look a bit more impressive in a few days time.  We drove on to Glenridding where we parked at the pier and had a coffee.

The gloomy weather should have stopped me taking too many pictures but it didn’t.





I had hoped that the hills might be capped with gleaming snow but there was only a scattering on the very tops of the bigger hills.


We considered taking a trip on the lake steamer but decided that it was too chilly and opted for a walk instead.

Our route took on us well made paths and tracks up one side of the Glenridding Beck and down the other.

We climbed steadily and we soon able to turn back and look at the lake below us.


We crossed the beck by a fine wooden bridge…

Bridge over Glenridding Beck

…and ate a sandwich beside the stream there.

Glenridding Beck

The walls and rocks in the area were covered by a flourishing green lichen for the most part but there were one or two others about.  Here is an example of the common green one with a rarer grey brown one beside it.

green lichen

The were many picturesque views to be had and I always enjoy one with a Scots pine in it.

Scots pine at Glenriddin

It was a real pity that the sun remained hidden because a bit of brightness would have made for some stunning views.

We walked further up the valley on the far side of the beck until we arrived at the Youth Hostel which is on the site of an old mine.

Greenside Mine

Greenside Mine

Some of the old stone work is visible

This is Greenside Mine, an old lead mine which produced lead and silver between 1690 and 1960.  This was as far as our legs would carry us uphill and so we turned to walk back down the track to the lake.

We passed several little terraces which must have housed the workers in the mines in days gone by.  They seemed mostly to be holiday homes now but they were very neatly looked after.

aubretia at Glenridding

Walls hung with aubretia

The valley was typical of the Lake District with small fields beside the stream and rough pasture further up the hillsides.


On the other side of the Lake, we could see a snowy ridge.


It was a lovely walk but after three and a half miles and 550 ft of climbing and descent, we were very ready for a cup of tea in the village when we got back.   We may still have a few miles left in our cycling legs but our days of striding up hills are long behind us and this length of walk, with its varied views and continual points of interest, was just the thing for us.

We drove back by way of Dockray and were able to stop for one last look at the lake before we went over the hill.


When we got home, I was happy to see that the birds had survived my absence for the day.


You can see that the goldfinch on the right is hopping mad because the other one has got the coveted twig top spot.

As a mocking coda to our rather grey outing, a beautiful sunset developed over Langholm  as Mrs Tootlepedal was getting ready to go off to strut her stuff at the Buccleuch Centre.


Spring watch:  On our way down, we had stopped in Carlisle for Mrs Tootlepedal to buy some knitting wool.  I was struck by a beautiful willow across the road from where the car was parked and I have paired it with a golden burst seen on our walk later in the day.


The flying bird of the day is an RAF helicopter flying low over the lake as we had our coffee.  It may have been on its way to a mountain rescue job.




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The guest picture of the day was kindly provided by my sister Susan, being one that was surplus to requirements in her own blog.  It shows just how much money is washing round the City of London when they can afford such fancy bollards.


For busy readers, I should mention that Mrs Tootlepedal and I enjoyed a drive to the Lake District and back today.  It was extremely uneventful and we combined this with some useful shopping in Carlisle on our journey home.  The weather was very nice.  That was all we did today.

For those of you with a bit of time on your hands, I should confess that I took my new camera, Pocketcam, with me and gave it a good run out so today’s post is quite picture heavy.

Our plan was to leave Langholm as near to nine o’clock as we could, drive to Cockermouth and then take the narrow road into the Lake District National Park to Crummock Water and Buttermere, arriving at Buttermere village just in time for coffee.  Then we planned a pleasant 4.4 mile walk round the Buttermere in the sunshine, followed by lunch back in the village before driving home via the picturesque Honister Pass and Keswick, stopping for shopping on the way and arriving home just in time for a nice cup of tea.

As you know, “the best laid schemes o’ mice and men gang aft a-gley” but on this occasion, everything worked out as per schedule.  It doesn’t happen often but when it does, it is very pleasing indeed.

I took one or two snaps with ‘Pocketcam’ as we went along.  Here is Crummock Water looking back towards Cockermouth.

Crummock Water

It had been a frosty morning and there was a hint of mist still in the air.  Looking south….

Crummock Water

…you could see the mist lifting which was lucky because that was where we were heading.

Just the drive along Crummock Water would have made the outing worthwhile but Mrs Tootlepedal’s cup of happiness ran over when we discovered a very neat cafe open for business just beside the car park in Buttermere.  Here we had our cup of coffee.

Cafe in Buttermere

We were looking for an easy walk round the lake (Buttermere is the name of the village and the lake) and were pleased to find a sign saying, “Go this way for an easy walk round the lake. (Two and a half hours if taken gently)”  We went that way.  We found the lake.  We walked round it in an easy manner and it took us two and a half hours.

Buttermere looked like this.


Our path took us down the shady west side of the lake and we were able to look across at sunlit hills at the head of the lake…..

Whiteless Pike

Whiteless Pike, I think

…and straight across on the eastern side.

Buttermere fell

Buttermere Fell

Although we were in the shade cast by Red Pike and High Stile, it was not cold as there hardly a breeze at all and walking along the fine path provided for us was a treat.  At the top of the lake, we were in woodland…

Buttermere path

…but at the bottom, we came out into open country.

Buttermere path

The little copse of trees which you can see ahead of us were growing on an alluvial fan spread by this little bickering burn, flowing from one of two corries above us as we walked.

Burn from Burtness Combe

The south end of the lake is dominated by Fleetwith Pike.

Fleetwith Pike

Our road home would be up the narrow valley to its left.

The wind had dropped almost entirely away by this time and although a light covering of cloud had obscured the sun, walking was still very pleasant.  The reflections were impressive.

Buttermere reflections

Our path took us through the green fields that you can see at the head of the lake and up to the farm in the distance.  Here we turned for home and after a short walk along the road, we took to a path that took us right along the east bank of the lake.

It was a bit more rugged than our outward journey….

Lakeside path, Buttermere

…but we were armed with walking poles and skipped over rocky steps with gay abandon,  (That is a lie:  we tottered over the awkward bits and puffed up the little hills.)  There were compensations.  The views were superb…

Buttermere from the south

..,.the Herdwick sheep were friendly…

Herdwick Sheep

…and the reflections were so stunning that it was sometimes hard to see where the land ended and the water began.


We even had a tunnel carved out of solid rock to pass through.

Buttermere tunnel

There were endless reflections…


Fleetwith Pike on the left and the hill with the intriguing name of Haystacks on the right.

…a few single trees to catch the eye….

buttermere tree

…and more reflections still.

Buttermere reflection

We resolved to try to visit Buttermere again a little earlier next year when the autumn colour would be in evidence.  Even though the colour had passed it would be hard to find a better day to walk round Buttermere than today.  The scene was the epitome of peacefulness.

We were soon at the north end of the lake and had time for one look back…


..before arriving at the village…

Buttermere …and passing by the hotel, we returned to the cafe for a bacon butty and a cup of tea, more or less exactly two and a half hours after we started our walk.

As well as lunch, I bought a small piece of Kendal Mint Cake.  This is a very sugary delicacy which I used to carry with me as the 1970’s equivalent of an energy bar in those long forgotten days when I was fit enough to run in races up and down the Lakeland hills.  It was delicious then and is still delicious now but you would have to have a sweet tooth to like it.

Although the skies were cloudy now, there was enough wintery light about to let us enjoy the dramatic drive over the Honister Pass and down to Derwent Water and Keswick.

The climb up has gradients of 25% (1 in 4)….


You can just see the road snaking through the gap at the head of the valley

…and we passed a few hardy cyclists giving it a go.  Two had almost made it to the top and were tacking from side to side on the steep final ascent to the col. The road surface was rather bumpy which wouldn’t have helped them at all.

Going down the other side, with a gradient of 20%, was quite exciting as it is much more bendy than the ascent was.  Although I would quite fancy having a try at cycling up the Honsister Pass, nothing in the world could tempt me to try cycling down the other side.  Going down a narrow, twisting, 1 in 5, bumpy road with on-coming traffic is exactly my idea of hell and I take my hat (or chapeau in this case) off to those lunatics who enjoy it.

Our journey along Derwent Water rounded off our lake experience very satisfactorily and the drive back to Carlisle was swift and uneventful.  Our shopping included three different sorts of goats cheese and some Basque country ewes milk cheese so that rounded off the whole outing perfectly.

The flying bird of the day should perhaps be more accurately described as the fleeing bird of the day as I harmlessly shot a pheasant on our frozen lawn in the morning before we left on our outing.  It  had escaped, for the time being at least, the more lethal shots of the pheasant shooters.

pheasant in garden

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Today’s picture shows a small flock of chaffinches waiting to say goodbye to Mrs Tootlepedal and me as we left them to fend for themselves for a day.

chaffinch gang

They had to wait a bit because before we left, I went round the morning run with Dropscone.  Having completed 1000 miles on his slower winter bike, he got out the speedy bike today and I had to pedal hard to keep up with him.  I just managed.

While we were having our coffee afterwards, I asked his professional opinion (Dropscone was a baker to trade) on the results of my sourdough efforts….

sourdough bread

…and he replied that he thought that it wouldn’t win many prizes for beauty.  He left too early for it to cool down enough to try it but I can report that in spite of being far from perfect, it tasted good and I will certainly have another go.

We were visited by a jackdaw during our coffee break.


After coffee and a shower, Mrs Tootlepedal and I set off for Penrith to visit the wildlife photographic exhibition at the Rheged Centre nearby which Sandy had recommended to us.  The drive down was uneventful and the exhibition turned out to be well worth a visit.  It had a very wide selection of shots from the everyday to the fantastic and it took us some to time to look at them all.

The Rheged centre, built in the heart of an old lime stone works, is an upmarket retail opportunity for locally produced goods, combined with several eateries and a gallery so we were able to find sustenance for both the mind and the body while we were there.

It lies just on the northern edge of the Lake District so it seemed only sensible to combine the trip to the gallery with a trip to a lake.  We chose Ullswater.  It is a lake with one end in gentle country…


…and the other end in the mountains.


Needless to say, while we were there, the sun went in so I couldn’t get quite the sparkling pictures that I had hoped for.  It was still very beautiful and there is a convenient path along the eastern edge of the lake which we followed for a short distance.

There were very few people about, no doubt due to the cold and the recent heavy snow, but the little lake steamer chugged busily up and down regardless.


This was where it started from.

pier at Ullswater

This is the pier at Pooley Bridge.  We parked the car nearby and walked along the lake.  The first thing of note that we passed was this very small building.

building by the lake

I think that if there were more visitors about, it would probably offer a spending opportunity of some sort but it was lifeless today.

We walked on.  The shore had many little bays and promontories.


We got some shelter from the wind thanks to this ridge on our left and the walk was very pleasant.


We passed a couple of nearly empty camping and caravanning sites.  Business must be terrible at the moment.  Certainly there were very few people about which made it better for us on a peaceful walk but a lot worse for the local businesses.

Just before we turned to go back to the car, there was almost an outbreak of sunshine at the bottom end of the lake but it didn’t come to anything.

We walked pack to Pooley Bridge by the road and a bullfinch in a roadside tree caught our eye.


There are bullfinches in and around Langholm but we have never had one in our garden.

Pooley Bridge is a neat little village but in the high season, it must be swamped with tourists.  I thought that their parish church merited a picture.

Pooley Bridge church

As soon as we got into to the car to head north, the sun came out and it stayed with us until we got home.  We made a diversion through Hesket Newmarket and Caldbeck to take in the scenery and stopped on top of the fell just south of Caldbeck to enjoy the view in both directions.

Looking south, I could see the northernmost fells of the lakes District…


Lakeland fells

And looking north, I could see the whole spread of the Solway plain with the snowcapped hills of southern Scotland in the distance.


The prominent wind farm is at Minsca, twelve miles from Langholm.

The view is huge and I would need to have a very fancy camera to convey it fully but I would happily go there just to enjoy it even if I didn’t have a camera with me.

I took another shot, trying to find Warbla, the hill from which yesterday I took of a photo of where I was standing today but although this one is in the general direction, the light wasn’t quite good enough for me to pick out the monument and make sure.

Scottish hills

We drove home, avoiding Carlisle by using the new north western by pass and arrived back in Langholm thoroughly satisfied by a good afternoon out.

While we were making our tea, we were visited once again by the missel (mistle) thrush which has obviously found the garden a congenial place.

missel thrush

In the evening, I went to the Archive Centre with Jean and Sandy where our internet connection worked perfectly this week and we got a lot of useful work done.  We retired to the Eskdale Hotel for our refreshment afterwards.

For today’s flying chaffinch, you get two for the price of one.

flying chaffinches

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Today’s picture shows my sister Susan on Mt Taranaki in New Zealand where she is visiting friends and linking up with my brother and his wife who are also there.  He sent me this picture.

Susan descending Mt Taranaki

We were just as sunny as that today but  we were a lot colder and I had to break the ice on the pond again.  I was pleased to see that at least one frog has survived the cold snap.


A frog among the ice floes

Yet again, the very cold weather and chilly wind  kept me off the bicycle.  Sandy came for coffee and after he left, I found that the sun had softened the front lawn enough to spike about a quarter of it.  I was pleased to get it started but it showed me that I was wise to avoid cycling as the effort laid my breathing low and I had to take my relieving inhaler and have a good sit down to recover.  It is very frustrating as February was such a good month for cycling that I have been feeling quite fit but it doesn’t take long for the fitness to slip away again.

While I was waiting for Sandy to come round, I was able to watch a robin taking steps to get to the seed feeder.

Robin's progress

All the shots are of the same bird at the same time.

Mrs Tootlepedal was working again and I shook myself out of my chair just before she came home for lunch and captured this pair of siskins in the plum tree…

siskin pair

…and this richly coloured crocus.


After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a meeting on the future of the town and just after she had gone, Sandy reappeared and we decided to go on a little tour in the sunshine.  I had hoped to go down to Gretna and take some pictures of the Lake District hills across the Solway but time was against me as I had a meeting later in the afternoon.

We decided on a more local visit and our route took us over the White Yett and onto the moor.  We stopped to admire some of the wild goats who were feeding close to the road.

wild goat

You don’t often get the chance to see them so close to the road.  They got fed up with us snapping away and stomped off in high dudgeon.


One with horns up and one with horns down.

We drove on down to the Tarras and turned up the river and drove on until we came literally to the end of the road at Lodgegill.

There was a still a little snow on a north facing ridge.


But looking in the other direction gave us a snow free view.


This is open country with not much to interrupt a view.


There are a few farm buildings. These are sheep sheds.

There are a lot of sheep.

sheep at Lodgegill

But there are a lot of hills too.


Sandy was busy with his camera and I have no doubt that a visit to his blog sometime soon will show you what he saw on our walk.  (He was going to the evening version of the meeting that Mrs Tootlepedal went to in the afternoon so it may be a day or two until the pictures appear.)

On our way back home over the moor, we got a tantalising glimpse of the Lake District hills in the distance.

Lake District

I was really sorry that I hadn’t had time to get a better picture of them but I had enjoyed our stroll at Lodgegill very much and I was very pleased to have seen the goats so I shan’t complain.

In spite of some serious potholes, we got home safely and while Sandy went home, I went off to my meeting (Mrs Tootlepedal was cleaning out the greenhouse).  The meeting had been called so that three of us from the choir could go down to Kirkandrews church to check that it would be suitable for a choir concert which we are hoping to hold in June.  We were accompanied by a church representative.

This was the same church which Sandy and I had visited ten days or so ago.


Gillian, the church representative, pointed out some triangular stones from the original church which are now on the wall round the present building.


As the ‘new’ church was built in 1775, these must be quite old stones.

Gillian took us inside and although I have been in the building before, I was bowled over by what a fine interior the church has.

St Andrew's Church, Kirkandrews on Esk

St Andrew's Church, Kirkandrews on Esk

It has a very pretty ceiling.

St Andrew's Church, Kirkandrews on Esk

Gillian has said that I may go down again and try to take some better pictures when I have more time and a tripod.  (For those of a grammatical bent, that last phrase is a fine example of a semantic syllepsis and I was pleased to get an opportunity to use one.)

We decided that it would be a very good venue for our concert and returned home in a cheerful state of mind.

In the evening we met again at the usual choir meeting.  This was slightly less than satisfactory because thanks to the demands of the operatic society’s forthcoming production next week, only one soprano turned up and she was naturally a bit reluctant to sing by herself.   Somehow we managed to find enough music to sing to have a quiet but enjoyable evening.  Nevertheless, we did decide to abandon next week’s meeting which will be in the middle of the performance week of the show.

The flying bird of the day is entirely traditional.





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Today’s picture was taken by my neighbour Liz last month on the top of Castle Hill.  She has got many fine pictures on her phone but we have only just managed to show her how to get them off it.  It was full to bursting when she took this one so she couldn’t get a another shot.


We had a pretty nice day here today if you could ignore the sub zero temperature in the morning and the chilly wind all day.   At least the wind had dropped a bit after recent days and it didn’t blow right through you and out the other side like it has been.

Dropscone had been up to Jedburgh very early in the morning and was back just in time to have a cup of coffee.  He brought with him two very tasty apple turnovers which he had purchased (at full price) in Hawick on his way back home.   They were well worth it.

After he left, I went out into the garden to break the ice on the pond and was amazed to see that in spite of the freezing temperature, there was enough heat in the sun* to bring the crocuses out in force.


*My botany skills are not good enough to tell whether it is heat or light that makes the petals open.

The birds were out in force again but I thought that I had illustrated this quite freely enough recently and limited myself to a chatty blackbird.


And one of a pair of robins which I saw on the same bush.  The other one made off before I could get a picture of the two of them together.


I must learn to tell robins apart.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been to get her hair cut and styled and this had obviously gone to her head because she agreed to come for a walk up a hill after lunch.  We chose Warbla because it has a nice track all the way to the top.

There were plenty of pieces of evidence as we went along that in spite of the sun, it was still pretty cold.


However, it was pleasant enough for our walk and we were able to get a splendid view of the town from the top of the hill.


To my surprise, we were also able to get a great view over the Solway Firth of the Lake District Hills on the English side.  I was so delighted that I took too many pictures and I have put a few more than I should on here because it is so rare to get such  a clear day.

Lake District and Carlisle

Lake District and Carlisle

Lake District

The mast that you can see on the left of the picture is at Caldbeck and communicates with the mast on top of Warbla just where we were standing to bring us our TV signal.

Lake District

Lake District

The pictures don’t do justice to the splendour of the view but they give a flavour of it.

Looking north-east, the hills on the far side of the Tarras valley had more snow on them than ours did.


So cheery had the view made Mrs Tootlepedal, that she suggested returning by a circular route walking down the other side of the hill.


Mrs Tootlepedal surveying our route.

After a last look back at the steep side of the summit which we had just left….


…we ploughed on across the trackless hillside.  The ground was well frozen which made walking on the tussocky and boggy ground easier than it would have been normally but it was it was still hard work.

sheep fold

We stuck to the high ground until we reached this sheep fold where we turned down the hillside.

It was hard going on old knees until we hit the track at the bottom of the hill and we were grateful for some level walking on a good surface.  We said hello to these traditional farmhouse geese…


…before coming down to the banks of the Esk and walking home along the Murtholm.  As we walked through the park past the church, Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out the hole on the bark of a conifer that acts as a refuge for a tree creeper.

tree creeper refuge

She herself had learned about this from Cat Barlow, the moorland project education officer.  I was amazed.  I liked a nearby tree which was trying to pretend it was a stone wall.

tree with lichen

We were very glad to get home.  The walk was only four miles but 700 ft of climbing and hard going underfoot had taken its toll on our joints and a cup of tea with our neighbour Liz was more than welcome.

In the evening, Susan and I went to Carlisle to play with our recorder group.  She has been a bit poorly lately but was much recovered today and we both enjoyed our playing a lot.   We are practising three pieces which we are going to play at a concert given by the church choir in Langholm in April but we had time to play lots of other music as well.

A brambling got into the frame as flying bird of the day today.

flying brambling

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