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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm’

Today’s guest picture comes from George, a friend that I met the other day. He asked me about a walk I had done. I suggested that he and his wife might like to try Walk 9 of the Langholm Walks and lo and behold, here is his wife Susan half way round the walk yesterday in beautiful sunshine.

We didn’t have such beautiful weather here today but we did have some reasonable overnight rain which left the soil in Mrs Tootlepedal’s vegetable garden looking nice and moist this morning.

And the flowers in the garden hadn’t been harmed by the rain at all and were looking fresh and cheerful.

It was back to being a bit chilly and windy so we didn’t have our street coffee morning. Luckily the crossword was rather obscure and took me a long time to solve so I wasn’t bored.

Apart from that, I listened to a lot of interesting stuff on the radio and did nothing useful at all.

I watched the birds. We have a steady supply of greenfinches and the odd siskin at the moment.

After lunch, we went for a walk, despite the brisk breeze and the threat of rain.

George’s expedition round Walk 9 of the Langholm Walks had awakened Mrs Tootlepedal’s interest and she suggested that we might do it ourselves today. I agreed, as it is my favourite of all the walks. We took rain jackets, a few dates and a camera and set off along the track to the Becks.

There were wild flowers and fine ferns to be seen along this section of our walk.

We crossed the Becks Burn and were walking up the road towards the farm when we were passed by a snail.

To be fair to our walking speed, it wasn’t going in the same direction as us and Mrs Tootlepedal spotted it as it crossed the road.

A patch of sunlight on the hill behind the farm gave us hope…

…that the weather might be kind to us and we were soon high enough to have a look back at Langholm behind us.

The swaying grass beside the track through the fields past the farm showed how brisk the wind was…

…but as it was behind us, we didn’t care.

When we got to the end of the track through the fields and took to the open hill, we were faced by a stiff climb on rough ground into a rather grey. weather..

…but the climb was well worth the effort as were soon able to enjoy the views that make this such a good walk. From the end of the track, the walk takes a horseshoe route along the top of three ridges and gives the walker wonderful views in all directions.

As you get towards the top of the first ridge, Calfield Rig, you can look south and see the gap in the Lake District where Ullswater lies 40 miles away in England….

…or look west and see Criffel looming above the Nith Estuary 30 miles away to the west in Scotland.

Langholm lay a couple of miles behind us now…

…and all around us were inviting hills to walk on with not another person in sight.

And this might be the best place to get that view of Skiddaw across the Solway Firth.

For a few hundred feet of climbing, this is a wonderfully airy spot and I never get tired of it.

Perceptive readers may well have realised by now that this is going to be a picture heavy post. If walk descriptions are not your thing, you can take my word that we enjoyed the walk and skip to the end of the post for the usual flying bird finale.

We walked along the ridge, keeping an eye for cattle grazing. When we saw some, we were able to drop below the ridge and cut a corner and we did not disturb them. This is a look back along the the ridge.

There are turbines on the next hill along…

…and we could hear a good ‘wumph, wumph, wumph’ as they turned in the breeze.

We turned along the ridge that makes up the top of our horseshoe and found ourselves walking along the boundary fence in a field of bog cotton

Looking north over the fence we could look down into the next valley…

…and looking to our right, we could see a sea of cotton.

As we reached a fence half way along the ridge, a ray of sunshine contrasted with some mean looking rain clouds which were coming our way.

Our last turning point, just below the hilltop, lay ahead bathed in sunshine but the clouds encouraged us not to hang about and enjoy it too much.

The best of the weather was now heading south behind us and the English hills in the distance behind Warbla were getting the benefit of the sun…

…while to the north, things looked more unsettled.

Did I mention that as far as views go, this is the walk that keeps on giving. You don’t just get good views, you get different good views all the time.

We were on the homeward stretch now as we took the last leg of our horseshoe along the ridge from Black Knowe to Timpen and Meikleholm Hill. The rain reached us as we went along and I had to put my rain jacket on, but though it had looked very ominous, it proved to be only a passing shower and we were able to enjoy the view up the Esk valley….

…before we got to the trig point on Timpen…

….at 1068ft the highest point of our walk.

As we descended carefully down the steep slope from the summit, we could look down to our right and see Becks Farm and the track through the fields that we had followed on our way out.

And we could look down on Langholm basking in the sun for a moment….

…but another rain shower was on its way so we pressed on as fast as creaking knees would let us.

Once again we were lucky and the shower passed over us at a crisp pace and we got back home as dry as we had left it.

At only just over five and a half miles, this walk packs in a lot and it has plenty of climbing and rough ground to make it feel a lot longer than it is, so we had a pleasant feeling of a job well done as we had a cup of tea and separate digital chats with my siblings and our daughter and granddaughter.

I had a walk round the garden while tea was cooking, and although things are looking good…

…we still need more rain. Fortunately, the forecast says that we are going to get some.

I apologise for the large number of pictures but it was a scenic walk and I still didn’t do it full justice.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who once again managed to extend her permitted walk as far as Regent’s Park where she found a favourite restful corner to enjoy.

It was still grey and drizzly this morning, but the heavy winds of the past two days had eased off a lot and when the drizzle stopped, it was quite a suitable day for wandering round the garden.

I wandered from time to time.

The frost survivors among the rhododendrons and azaleas are still doing their best to cheer us up…

…but the gap that the frost has left in the garden is still hard to bear.

The recent rain has now got up to an inch and half as recorded by Mary Jo’s rain gauge. This is fine for the broad beans which are looking good but the peony and tulips have found it a bit much.

A burst of heavier rain put paid to the morning street coffee meeting and I watched the birds instead.

Greenfinches and sparrows were the flavour of the morning…

…and a sparrow was happy to watch a greenfinch trying the seed before having a go itself.

The rain stopped and we went out into the garden to do useful tasks (Mrs Tootlepedal) and footle about looking for raindrops (me).

The view down the back path is always rich at this time of year.

When I had finished footling about, I went in and did something more purposeful. I made some potato and carrot soup for lunch and while it was cooking, I made 30 ginger biscuits. There was a bit of a snack crisis as the boiled cake had been polished off when we drank our coffee earlier in the morning.

After lunch, I went for a short walk to fill in the time before our virtual Carlisle Choir meeting.

I chose a familiar route. After two months of lockdown and about thirty local walks, there is no other option than to choose a familiar route and this makes it harder than usual to try to find something unfamiliar to see as I go along. If the truth be told, I am probably finding it harder to look too as I subconsciously feel that there won’t be anything much new to see even if I did look carefully.

Looking down, I did notice the more noticeable today…

…and looking around, i couldn’t miss the frost damaged trees among the spring greenery.

As I was walking along the Becks track, I was considering whether I would have time to walk up to the track on Warbla on my way home, but a glance across the valley revealed cattle sitting right on the path across the grass that I would use to get up to the track…

…so when I had crossed the Auld Stane Brig…

…I went through the frost damaged trees along Gaskell’s Walk instead.

When I got to the Stubholm, I checked on a blackthorn to see if there are going to be any sloes this year. The signs are good and as a bonus, there was some interesting lichen on the branch that I was inspecting.

Instead of going straight home when I got to the park, I walked down to the Esk to see if the oyster catcher was still on its nest.

It was…

… but a bit further up the river, I found another adult with a very young chick. The adult made it hard for me to see the nipper, and the chick didn’t help by turning its back on me…

…but in the end, they co-operated.

I got home in good time and Mrs Tootlepedal and I settled down in front of my laptop to see what a virtual choir practice would be like on Zoom. It was very well organised and well over 50 choir members had logged on to take part. Ellen, our energetic director, had done a lot of preparatory work and everything went very smoothly and we were encouraged to sing, but there is no doubt that singing by ourselves at home while hearing only only one other singer (Ellen at the piano) is not really choral singing. Still, it was fun to see the other choir members and the virtual meeting had the feeling of an occasion, even if not a choral one.

The weather had greatly improved by the time that we emerged into daylight from peering at the computer and I did think of going for a cycle ride but the call of lawn maintenance was strong and I mowed the greenhouse grass, the drying green and the middle lawn instead. We then had our second Zoom meeting of the afternoon when we chatted with my brother, one of his sons and my sisters.

After our evening meal, I went out into the garden to enjoy the sunny evening…

…and the colour matching between car and clematis.

The wind had dropped and I was sorry that the day hadn’t worked out so that I could have enjoyed these ideal conditions, but you can’t have everything.

Not all the colour in the garden is floral…

…but the late evening light was kind to the colours and the bees were really enjoying the cotoneaster on the wall of the house…

…while I enjoyed an Icelandic poppy.

I hope to get back to cycling tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day was not one that the greenfinch approved of.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my camera club friend Simon. He has been taking walks round Canonbie during the lockdown and wonders why anyone might prefer city life to scenes like these.

It was not a promising morning today here in any way, being windy and wet from the start. I did pop out into the garden when the rain was very light and have a look around. Mrs Tootlepedal has a choisya which she doesn’t think is looking well but it is producing flowers to join the ranunculus…

…and a Rodgersia which is is looking healthy. Just to prove me wrong, the clematis by the front door has produced more flowers but it is hiding them behind its leaves to annoy.

The original flower is going over in style.

I didn’t linger long and was soon back inside wasting time on trivial but time consuming activities. Once again, we felt grateful that the weather has been fine for most of our lockdown as two months of wet and windy weather would have been very hard to bear.

I did spend some time trying out Google Meet with my sister Susan but it didn’t work satisfactorily so we will probably stick to Zoom for our regular meetings.

When I stopped doing the trivial things, the birds were there to keep me entertained.

The feeder was busy all day and new birds were constantly arriving to the disapproval of the incumbents…

…and this led to some collisions and cantankerousness.

I think that my current favourites among the visitors are the redpolls in their spring get ups.

We have many young sparrows in the garden but I haven’t seen many young blackbirds. I wondered if this was a teenager. It looked as though it wouldn’t mind being fed but no one came.

We had planned to go for a walk after lunch but the rain persisted and we didn’t start until after three o’clock in the end. We went out with some trepidation as there was still a light drizzle and the wind was boisterous to say the least.

A trail of leaves littering the track up to the Stubholm told the story of how strong the wind has been.

We met some friends at the Stubholm and they told us that they had abandoned their intention to walk up the Warbla Track because of the strong wind and advised us to keep to low level sheltered spots.

We were headed down to the Murtholm and Skippers Bridge so we were able to follow their advice without changing our plan. We passed this fine tree on our way.

We crossed the bridge and walked along the road beside the river as far as the track that leads up Jenny Noble’s Gill. A movement ahead caught our eye and we spotted a grey squirrel, and it froze for a moment as it climbed a tree.

Lovers of red squirrels have been trying to keep grey squirrels at bay for some years but I fear that they are fighting a losing battle as I see more and more greys all the time.

The walk up the gill among the birch trees was lovely….

…and the seed heads of the grasses were whispering to each other as we passed.

The track back to the town was as delightful as ever, even on a dull grey day….

…but it didn’t seem as windy as it was when we set out so we left the track and ventured out of the woods onto the open hill…

…and after passing through some bluebells, we soon enjoyed good views over the valley and town below us.

The church stands out now that it has been released from the shadows of the trees.

The golf course is waiting for the arrival of keen golfers like Dropscone as soon as the traps are opened in a day or two.

Dropscone is looking forward to it in spite of his advanced age. (He advanced another year yesterday and is now officially older than me for the next six months.)

As well as the views, there were other things to look at as we went along.

We saw wild strawberries, small cow wheat (not a thing that we have seen before), a patch of white flowers which Mrs Tootlepedal told me “is that weed which grows on your lawn”, and a bunch of smiling buttercups.

An old leafless tree caught Mrs Tootlepedal’s eye.

We had had to climb up a pretty steep hill to get above the golf course and we were happy to have reached a point as we passed that tree when it was all downhill on the way home.

We walked past Whita Well and pressed on until we reached the Newcastleton Road. This let us descend gently back to river level and we walked back to Langholm along the main road from Whitshiels.

I noted some of the points of interest that we saw on our way: exuberant crosswort, fresh green hazel leaves, herb Robert and a real novelty these day, an actual puddle.

As we crossed the Castleholm towards the Jubilee Bridge and home, the sun actually came out…

…and just as promptly, it went in again and we had to increase out pace as a light rain encouraged us to get a move on.

It had been a strenuous five mile walk and never has a cup of tea and a slice of cake been more welcome.

That finished the day off for us as we had not an ounce of energy left for anything else except a small plate of rhubarb and custard as a late supper.

The flying bird of the day is one of the young sparrows who frequent the garden at the moment.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  Owing to an easing in the lockdown in England, she was able to visit the Fragrance Garden at The Newt, and very pleased she was to be there.

fragrance garden

A quick examination of our garden this morning showed that the frost attack hadn’t been just been a bad dream, the azaleas and most of the rhododendrons were truly dead.

four dead flowers after may frost

And what was nearly as bad from my point of view was the discovery that all the potential plums had turned black (top right picture in the panel above). As a devoted plum eater, this was very sad news.  One of the espalier apples looks doomed as well and we can only wait to see what happens with the other two.

Wherever Mrs Tootlepedal looked, she seemed to be able to find signs of more damage on other flowers and shrubs but I wouldn’t want to say that there are no flowers left in the garden…

yellow and white survivors may frost

…with the ‘wilder’ flowers looking to have come through best.

six may flowers after frost

I will have something to photograph in the coming days.

six may colourful flowers after frost

Like this dicentra.

dicentra survivor

We did a lot of wandering around feeling unhappy but our usual socially distanced street coffee morning cheered us up.  Afterwards, Mrs Tootlepedal settled down to removing and shaping box hedge plants for most of the rest of the day.

I lent a hand now and then, and in between times mowed the front lawn.  Both lawns badly need some steady rain and some consistent warmth and they are not looking good at the moment.  However, my target date for having the lawns looking good is mid June and I haven’t given up hope yet.

It was rather grey with a chilly wind so I was happy that it was a walking rather than a cycling day, and after lunch I picked up my walking  poles, put on my walking shoes, and went for a walk.

As I walked along the Ewes Water, I saw wild flowers on the far bank and a wagtail on a rock (with a reflection below) and as I walked up the hill past the Estate Offices, I saw two black lambs.

wildflowers, wagtail, lambs

Our neighbour Liz had told me that the cattle had been taken off Castle Hill for a while, so this seemed like a good opportunity to walk up my least visited of the hills around the town.

There is a steep start to the track up the hill and I was happy to pause for a moment among the hawthorn trees to look across the valley at Whita Hill…

whita from castle hill track

..before heading on up the very dry track to the summit.

track and tree castle hill

I say summit, but that is perhaps allowing Castle Hill a little more majesty than it really has at a modest 270 metres (885ft) above sea level.

But you do get a good view from the top.

This is perhaps the best of view of Langholm from any of our four hills as you can see the whole town.

langholm from castle hill

You can also look up Eskdale…

esk valley from castle hill

…and Wauchopedale too.

wauchope valley from castle hill

Castle Hill lies on the end of a ridge and my route today  took me along the ridge.

potholm hill ridge

One of the joys of walking round Langholm is the good supply of easily attained ridges that offer fine walking with splendid view on every side.

As I went along, I could look down into the Ewes Valley on one side…

looking up ewes

…and when I got to the highest point on the ridge, Potholm Hill at 310m…

cairn potholm hill

…I got a fine view of the Esk valley on the other side.

You can see our local racing stable’s all weather training track in the foreground.

look over craig up esk

You can also see that there is a lot of forestry on the hills in Eskdale compared with the Ewes Valley…

looking up ewes from potholm hill

…but as I have remarked before, there will soon be a lot more trees up Ewes as sheep farms have been sold for tree planting.

I came down  the ridge to the little col between Potholm and Wrae Hills and turned down to meet the track back to Langholm, passing these three trees as I went.

three trees wrae hass

This section of the walk is usually very boggy but it has been so dry that I could have done the whole walk in carpet slippers without getting my feet wet.

I was soon back among green fields…

henwell

…and headed back past Potholm Farm towards Langholm.

Instead of sticking to the main track, I branched off into the woods above the track, following a minor track used by the pheasant keepers.  It was my intention to see if I could join up with the track that Mrs Tootlepedal and I had enjoyed last week when we walked into these woods from the far end.

The woods were dark after the airiness of being on top of the hill, and I began to wonder if I would find my way…

walk through woods above longfauld

…but fortunately I met a friend coming in the opposite direction, and she gave me some sound advice which I followed and I soon came to the track that I was looking for.

Unlike the hill, where the sheep had eaten everything except the occasional tormentil, there were plenty of wild flowers in the woods…

wild flowers longfauld woods

…and some sensational bluebells and wild garlic in the more open areas.

bluebells and garlic

This very lovely crop of speedwell deserved a solo picture in my view.

speedwell

I finished my walk by crossing a mass of dandelion clocks on the football pitch on the Castleholm…

dandelions castleholm

…and they told me that it was time for tea and a Garibaldi biscuit so I didn’t take any more pictures.

When I checked, I found that I had walked just under six miles and once again, I had had a wonderful variety of terrain and views on my short walk.  This is Walk 4 of the Langholm Walks (I had done it in the ‘wrong’ direction) and I can heartily recommend it to anyone who hasn’t tried it, especially just now when the going is dry underfoot and there are no cattle on the hill.

I had time for my tea and biscuit before my regular sibling Zoom meeting and then I sat down to a welcome meal of roast chicken prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal, washed down by a small glass of cider, part of the gift from our son Alistair and his wife Clare.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, sneaking past the drops of water coming from the sprinkler that Mrs Tootlepedal was using to try to get a little moisture into our dry soil.

flying sparrow hose drops

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce.  Meeting a stranger while out on a recent walk, he engaged him in polite but socially distanced conversation but found him rather uncommunicative.

bruce's friend

I had a disturbing morning.  We had arranged a visit from our bench supplier to discuss a modification to the new bench and he arrived at nine in the morning.  This seriously upset my normal routine of letting breakfast, the newspapers and the crossword run almost seamlessly into getting dressed just before coffee time.  As a result of being dressed and shaved so promptly, I had two hours of wandering around wondering what I was supposed to do before we even got to coffee.

I did go out and look at flowers.   They were not hard to see.

six flowers

It was another decidedly chilly morning with a brisk wind so although we had our customary socially distanced street coffee morning with ginger biscuits, it didn’t last as long as usual, even in the sunshine.

Someone remarked that our tulips are nearing the end of the road, but they are not going out without a final show.

four old poppies

The droplets on the petals are not rain but more of the endless watering that we are doing every day.

New flowers are coming to replace the tulips so we won’t be wanting for colour.

iris, cornflower, geranium, polemonium

My favourite flower of the moment is the aquilegia.

aquilegia close up

There was plenty of bird action today with the feeder appealing to goldfinches and siskins…

siskins and goldfinches

…and an assortment of other birds posing round the garden.

blackbird, jackdaw, thrush and pigeon

The birds that were making the most noise were baby sparrows clamouring for attention from their parents.

sparrows feeding babies

A young blackbird was less successful.

_20S9629

After lunch, I went for a cycle ride.  This was a surprise to me, as the brisk chilly wind in the morning had been enough to make me think of having a day off.  It had warmed up under the sun though, and the wind had eased off quite a bit by the afternoon with the result that taking a spin up the main road north of the town felt like the right thing to do.

This was a good decision, with the Ewes valley looking at its best…

ewes valley view

…and Ewes Kirk, pretty as a picture when framed by green leaves.

ewes church

I was cycling into the wind so i wasn’t unhappy to pause to enjoy the view…

view from A7

…and I think that you may well agree that there might be worse roads to be cycling up.

A7 near Unthank

There was a bit more traffic than there has been lately but it was still pretty peaceful.

I cycled 15 miles north into the wind, and this brought me to the bottom of the hill that has this strange conical monument to the local poet and minister Henry Scott Riddell on it.

ridell monument

The people who spoil views with power lines have done superb work here!  And yes, that is a gull perching on the very top of the monument.

The return journey, with the wind behind, was glorious.

At one stage I was bicycling up a gentle hill though wooded country at exactly the same speed as the wind was blowing.  There was no a whisper of wind in my ears. The road surface was newly laid and silky smooth.  My bike has a superior hub gear and a belt drive so it has none of that loud clanking that goes with a chain and derailleur gear.  There was no traffic.

The upshot of these happy coincidences was that for a good few hundred yards, I was pedalling along in complete silence, in a world of my own, entirely at peace.

And then there was the rush down hill for the last ten miles of the trip, accomplished in just over half an hour.  What fun for an old man.

After a slightly unsatisfactory Zoom meeting bedevilled by technological mysteries and a very satisfying meal of scrambled eggs, baked beans and fried potatoes, the second shock to my well drilled lockdown life occurred.

The powers that be have decreed that we may now go out more than once a day for exercise, so Mrs Tootlepedal and I drove up to the White Yett car park and walked up to the monument.

track to monument

We had coats and gloves with us but while the sun was out, it was warm enough to keep the gloves in our pockets.

Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the moorland for signs of harriers and thought that she could see a couple of them flying in the distance below us…

view of tarras from whita

…but we were totally unprepared to see a bird of prey sitting on a fence not far in front of us.

Although it sat and let us watch it for some time, it was too far away for a definite identification, but looking at the picture when we got home, we think that it was a short eared owl rather than a hen harrier.

short eared owl

When we got to the monument, the view over the town was a reward for the climb…

langholm late evening from whita

…but Mrs Tootlepedal hadn’t come up here to see local views.  Her ambition was to take advantage of the currently unpolluted skies to see if she could see the Isle of Man, eighty miles away.

Quite amazingly, she could.  It wasn’t the clearest sighting but with her binoculars, the island could be seen.  She gave me a go, and I could see it too.

My camera was quite a bit less sucessful!!

iom

It’s out there somewhere.

It had better luck looking at the Lake District hills which are a lot closer than the Isle of Man.

lake district

The sun had gone behind clouds by the time that we walked back down the hill and it had got quite chilly.  A sheep suggested that we shouldn’t hang about.

sheep on whita

The shades of night were falling fast as we got back to the car.

evening view from white yett

Thanks to the wonders of technology, we are in constant communication with our families so we will be quite happy to remain very vigilant and homebound for the foreseeable future whatever the government may say.  The second daily outing for exercise will be welcome though.

The flying bird of the day is a lark which we saw on our way down the hill this evening.

lark in sky

You don’t believe me?  Here it is.

lark close up

You can spot it in the middle of the big picture just below the line of blue sky if you look very, very carefully!

In the end, it was not the early rise or the second walk that was the biggest surprise of the day.  It was putting that failed picture of the view towards the Isle of Man into the photo editor and finding out what the camera had really seen.

iom contrast

Now that was a surprise.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  On one of his permitted walks, he found a friend.

deniis rabbit

As far as light for taking photographs went, it was a day of two halves with some good sunshine to start off.  This brought the best out of the tulips…

tulips and azaleas

…and got us quite excited about the coming of the age of azaleas.

In a break with tradition, the street coffee morning never got going as our neighbour Liz was out on a longer walk than she had intended and Mrs Tootlepedal was on a conference call regarding the proposed moorland buy out.  (There will be no living with her now that she has been on a conference call.)   I chatted with Margaret, the other participant for a while, and then we gave up.

As well as colour in the garden there are promising green shoots too.  The hostas are coming, the ferns are chatting and the alliums are getting ready to burst out.

three green garden things

I sieved some more compost.  I am reaping the benefit of trying to cut things up well before putting them in Bin A last year and doing my best to layer green and brown materials.  The present material in Bin C and D is the easiest to sieve that I have ever achieved.  (The dry spell helps too.)

I then scarified the front lawn and managed to take some pictures to record the results.

A run over the lawn with the electric scarifier left a lot of loose moss on the surface.  I raked it up into two heaps of a good size and Mrs Tootle[pedal took the moss away and made use of of it….

scarifying the front lawn

…leaving the lawn still looking rough.  I ran over it with the mower and collected another wheelbarrow load of moss which went in a bin.  The process left the lawn looking like this.

scarified lawn

(I mowed round in ever decreasing squares until I met myself coming back in the middle.)

There is still plenty of moss left in the lawn….to say the least.

I had time to appreciate the apple blossom…

apple blossom

…before going in for lunch and a chance to watch the birds at the feeder.

A rook was a surprise.

rook on bird feeder

…and two argumentative goldfinches were a delight.

super goldfinch

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal persuaded me to accompany her on a circular walk round Whita Hill.

This is Walk 10 of the Langholm Walks Project and the website says: It is on road and good tracks. Boots not needed in dry weather.  It adds: A long circular walk round Whita Hill. It is pleasant walking with a good variety of environments as you go round. At the far corner of the walk there is a real feeling of remoteness.

This is all true.

The only potential fly in the ointment was the appearance of some dark clouds in sky as we set off.

blossom and clouds esk

They held off as we walked up the track to Broomholmshiels and as I have walked this way a couple of time recently and put a lot of pictures in posts, I held off taking any pictures on this part of the walk….

…except this one.  The light was right.

yellow nettle

…oh, and this one too.

juniper

When we got to Broomholmshiels the clouds were covering more and more of the sky…

clouds over whita

…and by the time that we got to the bird hide, a few hundred yards up the road, the sun had gone for the day and it turned rather gloomy.

The larch trees at the bird hide have been felled and the hide looks rather lonely now with a forestry track where the glade used to be.

bird hide trees felled

However, the road down to the Tarras Water from the hide looks as inviting as ever and we continued our walk.

road from bird hide

We walked through a delightful wood on our way to the bridge over the river and having crossed over, we passed a small forest of horsetail and a boulder well covered with lichen…

birch horsetail lichen

…on our way up to Cronksbank.

As we went up the hill, we looked left over the Tarras Water to Rashiel and Whita…

view of rashiel and whita

…and straight ahead up the Little Tarras Water Valley…

little tarras valley from bottom

…before coming to the well sheltered farmhouse at Cronksbank itself.

cronksbank

We followed the track to Peterburn where we had a choice between crossing the Tarras Water again by a bridge or using the ford.

We chose the bridge…

perterburn bridge

…which was just as well, as the ford would have entailed us getting very wet shoes or taking  our shoes and socks off and paddling.  The water has not warmed up yet!

perterburn ford

Once across the water, we got to that remote corner of the walk….

view of the moor from middlemoss road

…and had to walk up this steady hill track to get to the road back to Langholm.

 

road from Middlemoss

We had an excuse to stop for a breather when we met the local farmer on his quad bike on his way to check on the lambs.  He was in a very cheerful mood as the recent spell of good weather has been perfect for his lambing season.

We were able to look back down the Little Tarras Water Valley towards Cronksbank as we walked along the road to the White Yett …

little tarras valley from top

…but the light was very poor by now and I couldn’t do the landscape justice.  Mrs Tootlepedal was hoping to see hen harriers in the sky on this section of our walk but although we saw several grouse and two curlews, we didn’t see any harriers.

We walked back down the hill enjoying trees, lambs and tiny bridges…

trees lambs and mini birdge

…and then turned across the hill to get to the top of the golf course and the Kirk Wynd.

A burst of white blossom among the gorse just before the gate was a pleasant surprise..

gorse and blossom

…but the Wynd itself has been so savagely cleared of growth of all sorts, that it is rather dull to walk down.

The steep slopes back into the town slowed us down as we find going down more troublesome than going up these days, but we finally made it to the suspension bridge where we were greeted by the welcome sight of swallows, both perching on the electric wires…swallows

..and flashing to and fro under the bridge as we crossed it.  I will have to come back with my bird camera to try to get a picture of them in better light.

This was a nine mile walk with a fair bit of up and down in it, the furthest we have walked for many years, so we were more than pleased to sit down to a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit or two when we got in.  We had a feeling of a job well done.

Between us, we had enough strength left to cook and eat an evening meal but we may well be a bit creaky tomorrow.  As it is due to rain at last, this may not matter too much.

The flying birds of the day are two goldfinches going this way and that.

two flying goldfinches

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

wemyss beach

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

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

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

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

In the sunshine, the tulips were glowing.

four lovely tulips

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

violet

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

euphorbia curls

The little willow is beginning to burst out.

willow in garden

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

pink tulip

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

thinned beans

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

goldfinches

…and some use of bad language.

sparring goldfinches

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

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

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

walking up meikleholm hill

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

longfauld from meikleholm hill

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

boggy bit in drought

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

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

castle hill from timpen

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

timpen panorama

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

looking down to road from timpen

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

craigcleuch from timpen

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

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

wild flowers april 2

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

duchess bridge

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

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

wild flowers april

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

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

long jump run up

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

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

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

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

flying goldfinch

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