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Posts Tagged ‘Liddesdale’

Today’s guest picture is a very strange aperture in the clouds sent to me by our son Tony. Perhaps the weather gods had opened their kitchen window to see what he was up to down below.

hole in cloud

We had a second sunny day running here today.   Once again, it was quite chilly after breakfast so I had a cup of coffee, watched the birds…

two chaffinches

…did the crossword, bought some spinach from our corner shop and only then, set off.

I decided to go in a different direction today and started up the main road through the Ewes Valley, which was looking very inviting in the morning sunshine.

Ewes valley from Terrona

Wafted up the gentle hill by a favouring gale, I reached Fiddleton Toll in no time and turned off to go over the hill and down into Liddesdale.

This quiet road has recently been resurfaced and was in very good condition so I pedalled along in a very cheerful mood…

hermitage road nesar foddleton

…which persisted even when I came to the steep hill up to Carrotrigg.  It may not look very steep in the picture but I needed to use my lowest gear to get up it without putting too much strain on my tin knee.

carrotrig hill from bottom

I took the precaution of stopping after a while on the excuse of looking at the view behind me.  It is one of my favourite views so it was a good excuse.

looking back into Ewes valley at Fiddleton

The road ahead doesn’t look too bad either and there can have been few people in the world who felt more blessed at that moment than I did.

road up carrotrig hill

As I rode along the Carrotrigg hogsback, looking at the hills around me, I was metaphorically, and almost literally, for a moment at least, on top of the world.

hills at carrotrig

I went down the steep hill on the far side with extreme caution.  It was a bit of a waste of all the height that I had had to work so hard to gain but I was happy to get to the valley bottom in one piece and be able to enjoy this little bridge…

bridge below carrotrig

…and this neatly maintained circular sheep pen…

circular bield

…before arriving at Hermitage Castle (closed for the winter months)…

hermitage castle

…the last stop before I got onto the road south which follows the Liddel Water through Liddesale, visits Newcastleton and then drops down to Canonbie.

The nature of my pedal changed here as now I was cycling into the sun and the steady breeze which had been so helpful in pushing me up the hills so far.

It was not only this tree that was feeling the strain.

leaning tree steele road

Still, the road to Newcastleton from Hermitage is gently downhill so even into the wind, I was making reasonable progress and passing interesting things….

alpaca grazing

…until I was stopped in my tracks by the sound of my mobile phone ringing in my back pocket.

It had stopped ringing by the time that I had stopped pedalling and when I got it out, I found that the missed call had come from Mrs Tootlepedal.  I noticed that I had also received a text message from Sandy.  Intrigued, I rang Mrs Tootlepedal back and was appalled to find that she was at the Archive Group’s annual lunch, a lunch which I should have been at too.  We had both forgotten about it completely and Sandy had gone to fetch Mrs Tootlepedal who had been hard at work in the garden.

With twenty hard miles to go to get back to Langholm, it was obvious that I wasn’t going to make the lunch so I pedalled on in rather a chastened mood.

Still, what was done was done, and there was nothing for it but to enjoy the rest of the ride as best as I could.

I stopped before I got to Newcastleton to take a picture of this railway bridge over a disused section of the old Waverley Line from Edinburgh to Carlisle.

railway bridge Copshaw

The northern half of this line has been re-opened in recent years and there is a strong push to get the southern half reinstated as soon as possible.

It would be nice to see this happen but it will need a lot of good will, hard work, excellent planning and pots of money, all of which seem to be in short supply at the moment.

I stopped in Newcastleton itself, and sat on a handy bench while I ate a banana and a finger of chocolate wafer.  Opposite me, the village’s two hotels, sitting side by side in the main square, looked to be keeping quite busy.

Grapes and Liddlesdale

Outside the hotels, there is a spot where free drink has been available in times past.

copshaw fountain

I had a real battle against the wind as I toiled up the three long hills which lie between Newcastleton and Canonbie.  Although this section of the route is slightly downhill overall as it follows the river, it never seems like that to me.  This is probably because the uphill sections are long and gradual and the downhill sections are short and sharp so I spend a lot more time going up than down.

I turned off just before I reached Canonbie and took a back road along to the Hollows.  This meant passing a sign with two words which by themselves fill my cycling heart with misgivings and together make me very worried.

windy hill

A nearby tree made the hill and the wind seem not so bad.

bare tree windy hill

When I got home after just under 40 miles, I was welcomed by the crocuses…

open crocuses

…and Mrs Tootlepedal who had returned from the Archivists’ Lunch.

Not unsurprisingly, the archivists had managed to have a very good time  with no help from me and both the food and the conversation had been thoroughly enjoyable.  Nancy, the organiser, was very gracious when I rang up to apologise for my incompetence.  She was rather relieved in one way because if I had appeared on cue, it would have meant thirteen people sitting down for lunch, a number which she regards as very ill omened.   Perhaps it was for the best after all.

I had got home from my ride at a good moment because our day turned from bright and sunny into very gloomy and rainy in what seemed like the twinkling of an eye.  Some of the gloom may have come from another very uneven performance by the Scotland rugby team which lead to a sound defeat by the French.

I used the spinach that I had bought in the morning to make a meal of  baked eggs on a bed of spinach with a rich cheese sauce for our tea.  It went down well as I had missed my lunch!

I didn’t have long to look out of the window today but a passing chaffinch appeared at the right time to become the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

Those interested can find details of my route by clicking on the map below.  I did thirteen miles fewer today than yesterday but climbed 100 feet more so it was not surprising that I was a lot slower.

Garmin Route 23 Feb 2019

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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.

Mosspaul

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.

catrail

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

forestry

…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…

Liddesdale

…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.

dicentra

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

dahlia

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

onions

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.

_DSC6538

And the usual sparring sparrows.

_DSC6548

The very white sparrow is getting some colour…

_DSC6555

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

_DSC6557

The jackdaws take a good portrait.

_DSC6558

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.

_DSC6556

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 shows the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford upon Avon.  It was kindly sent to me by Mike Griffiths, author of the Wilden Marsh blog which is always an interesting read.  He is a first class photographer.

stratford theatre

It was a dry morning again.  Recently the weather gods have taken to raining in the night and leaving the days dry.  This is very welcome.  It was extra welcome today as I had to take the car to the garage first thing in the morning to get its winter tyres put on and then walk home.

After a light breakfast, I had to walk up to the town again to sit for a couple of hours in the Welcome to Langholm office where I was filling in for an absentee welcomer.

There was not a lot of welcoming to do so I was able to put two weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database which I regarded as time well spent.

I picked up the car from the garage, complete with its winter tyres, and drove home in sunshine.  It was such a nice day that I rang Sandy up to see if he would like a walk after lunch. He was keen so we arranged a time and almost immediately, it began to rain.  It was only teasing though and it soon stopped and the sun came out again.

We decided to visit Rowanburn and walk to the viaduct that links Scotland and England, the route we had planned to follow last Saturday when we were foiled by the road works.

There was no let or hindrance today and we parked in the middle of the village…

Rowanburn

…just beside a tribute to its past existence as a home for coal miners and a coal mine.

We set off down the path to the old railway line from Langholm to England, passing through a coal and timber yard which looks as though it has more demand for timber than coal these days.

Rowanburn timber

Although the timber may look a bit dull, it turned out to be a treasure trove of fungi.

Every tree trunk seemed to have its own crop.

Rowanburn timber fungi

And I mean, every tree trunk.

Rowanburn timber fungi

This was my favourite.

Rowanburn timber fungi

The sun wasn’t out when we started the walk and everything is still wet after a soggy autumn so these cows with their feet in the mud summed up the situation rather well.

Rowanburn cows

It is enough to make a cow thoughtful.

Rowanburn cows

We walked on, along the disused railway bed…

Rowanburn railway track

…and entered the woods.  We thought that we would be in the woods until we reached the viaduct….

Rowanburn railway track

…but great tree felling has gone on and most of the track is now in the open.  This was made more welcome by the reappearance of the sun…

Rowanburn railway track

…and we enjoyed good views up the Liddle Water valley over the felled area…

Liddesdale

…until we came to the viaduct.

Liddesdale viaduct

It has a big new fence across it to stop me and Sandy walking on to it.  I could just poke the Lumix lens through a gap in the wires.

That is England on the far side of the bridge.

I was quite pleased not to be allowed to walk on the viaduct because it is a lofty structure as we could see from below when we had scrambled down a bank onto the road…

Liddle viaduct bridge

…and splodged through some very muddy fields to the waterside until we found a place where we could look back up at the viaduct.

viaduct

It is a rather frustrating structure to try to do justice to with a camera.  It is impossible to get a position where all the arches can be seen at once and its curved construction is very tricky to capture.

The skill of the men who designed and built it is manifest when you look up at the arches.

viaduct

The trackbed crosses the supporting pillars at an angle and on a curve and all this was done with a bit of string and a piece of chalk (and a lot of sound mathematics) and not a computer in sight.  My respect for engineers is unbounded.

I walked down the river a bit to try to get a better shot of just some of its many arches.

liddle viaduct

I enjoyed the peaceful water above the bridge too.

liddle water

Sandy didn’t fancy the splodge back through the muddy field so he clambered up a very steep path to the end of the viaduct but I took the longer way round and met him on the track.

We walked back to the car with one eye on a rainy looking cloud and got there just as a light rain started to fall.

We had stopped to looked at a few things on the way back…

fungus and hips

..so we were very pleased with our timing.

We went back to Langholm and Sandy entertained me to tea and a chocolate biscuit or two before I headed home.

It was too dark to do anything other than go in and look at the pictures that I had taken on the walk and practise a song which I have to re-learn by heart  for our Christmas concert with the Carlisle choir.

Generally speaking, my cough was much improved today and I really am quite optimistic that I may have seen the last of it soon.

In the evening, Susan arrived and she drove us to Carlisle for the monthly meeting of our recorder group.

Because I had got the winter tyres on the car, I was expecting a long spell of warm and dry weather but it was near freezing as we drove back so maybe the winter tyres will come in handy.

The recorder playing was most enjoyable as was the cup of tea and chocolate biscuits that followed it.  Two cups of tea with chocolate biscuits in the same day is a very good thing.

I didn’t have much time to look out of the kitchen window today so the flying bird of the day is a non standard one….but quite striking all the same.

flying chaffinch

Sandy has produced a record of our walk with some very nice pictures on it.  You can see it here if you would like.

 

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Today’s guest picture shows Matilda enjoying a little sunshine but warmly clad in the hat and shawl which her granny knitted for her.

Matilda

Mrs Tootlepedal was in adventurous mood again today and since the wind was light and the weather was fair, she suggested lunch at Newcastleton.

Newcastleton is only ten miles away but between it and Langholm lies the Langholm Moor rising to over 1000 ft and starting with a one and a half mile climb, an instant descent and then another lengthy uphill haul.   It seemed like a good idea on a day that was too good to waste so after a big plate of porridge and some coffee we set off.  I was riding my belt drive bike.

We were very pleased to arrive at the White Yett, at the top of the first hill, without having had to stop for a breather on the way.

I took a picture or two as we went over the moor.

Mrs Tootlepedal climbing to the White Yett

Mrs Tootlepedal climbing to the White Yett, taken with my phone while in motion.

white yett

Looking back from the top of the hill.  Langholm is 600ft below.

Tarras hill

Climbing the second hill after crossing the Tarras Water

Tarras Bridge

Looking back down the hill at the bridge over the Tarras Water

Langholm Moor

A general view of the moor as we got near the summit.

We stopped to eat a nourishing banana beside three lovely clumps of cowslips in a passing place.  This was one of them.

cowslips

There was no time for taking pictures once we were over the top, as there is a splendidly uninterrupted descent down into Liddesdale and the little town of Newcastleton.

We had a good lunch in the Olive Tree cafe there.  I nibbled on a lightly toasted goats cheese panini with coleslaw while Mrs Tootlepedal got her laughing gear round a substantial all day breakfast.

Before we left Newcastleton, we paid a visit to the newly erected bridge across the Liddel Water which,  when it is officially opened, will take cyclists and pedestrians directly to the mountain biking centre at Dykecrofts.  It was rather ugly and somewhat larger than we expected.

Newcastleton bridge

Instead of battling back across the moor, we chose the longer 16 mile route home via Canonbie.  Although this route must be downhill as it follows the Liddel downstream through the valley, it has some stiff climbs on the way and feels surprisingly like hard work.  Still, we managed it and then took the bike route up the Esk from Canonbie back to Langholm.

There were bluebells to be seen beside the way here.

canonbie bluebells

The ride is not very long but it is quite taxing with 1500ft of climbing so we were pleased to get a sit down with a cup of tea when we got home.  We had taken our time going round but had thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful weather and the lovely views on the way.

Details of the ride can be found here for those with time to kill.

I was a little worried that the 27 miles of our circuit wouldn’t quite get me to a nice round 500 miles for the month so after I had finished my cup of tea (we were joined by Mike Tinker), I got out the (fairly) speedy bike and nipped out for a quick 10 mile dash to the bottom of Callister and back.   The benefit of a good warm up was demonstrated by my best time of the year for this ride.

When I got home again, I was much struck by the evening sunlight playing on the tulips.

sunlit tulips

sunlit tulips

sunlit tulips

The anemone looked good too…

anemone

…and the aubretia dangling from the chimney pot under the feeder caught my eye as well.

aubretia

At odd times during the day, when I had a moment, I looked out for an exciting bird shot but my timing was off and I missed any excitement there was and had to settle for two perching birds.  The cute…

siskin

…and the striking.

jackdaw

An already excellent day was rounded off by a bowl of slow cooked venison stew for my tea and a trip to Carlisle with Susan to play with our recorder group.  Roy, our librarian, produced an eclectic programme of music from dances of King Henry VIII’s time to a rag by Scott Joplin by way of Mozart and Gounod among others.  Most enjoyable and stimulating.

I did catch a rather fuzzy siskin to be the flying bird of the day.

siskin

Final note: when I checked my cycling stats, I found that the 500 mile target had in fact been exactly reached after our lunch circuit but as I enjoyed the dash to Callister, I didn’t mind.

 

 

 

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