Posts Tagged ‘Longtown bridge’

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by our friend Gavin.  Last week when we were enjoying wet and grey conditions here, he was over on the east coast basking in the sun on Tynemouth beach, a mere 80 miles away.   But it was chilly there too in the brisk wind in spite of the sun.

tynemouth beach

We enjoyed a pleasant day of warm spring weather here today.  The shock was so great that I nearly had to go back to bed for a lie down to recover.  In the end though, I pulled myself together, turned down an offer of treacle scones, nodded at the goldfinches on the feeder…


…and set off for a pedal.  I didn’t rush out as it was only 5°C after breakfast and I didn’t want to have to put on a lot of cold weather gear only to have to take it off again as the day warmed up.  I compromised and waited until it hit 8° and only had to shed a few garments as I went round.  (I have a handy pannier to store them in.)

As I was hoping for a longer ride than usual, I stopped from time to time to have a drink and a snack and make sure that my legs got a rest.

I enjoyed this bank of snowdrops near Gair at my first stop.

snopwdrops at gair

I didn’t enjoy having to take my front wheel off and clear a lot of mud from my front mudguard which I had picked up when I cycled past the new windfarm  site entrance on the top of Callister.  The potholes there have been mended but the mud is a continuing problem for cyclists.

The wind was not strong but it was in my face for most of the outward journey so I made slow progress down to the village of Rockcliffe, which sits on the bank of the River Eden.

I parked my bike just before I got to the village and walked down a short track to the riverside and enjoyed the peaceful scene.

rockcliffe and eden

I had just turned away from the river when a loud noise made me look back.

I was amazed to see a tidal bore rolling up the river towards me and struggled to get my phone out to record the scene as my camera was having one of those Lumix moments when the zoom won’t extend.

I have seen bores on the news before but I have never seen one in real life so this was a treat. It was surprisingly loud and although it was only about a foot high, it looked very powerful as it swept past me…


…with the front of the bore not being a straight line as I expected but an elegant curve.


My camera started working again at this point and I used it to record the contrast between the calm water ahead of the wave and the turbulent movement behind it.

bore on eden 3

Three canoeists were paddling along behind the bore.  Whether they had been riding it earlier and had got left behind, I don’t know.

canoeists follwoing bore

I reclaimed my bike and went on my way very cheerfully, having seen a sight that I had never expected to see.

As I got back on the road, I enjoyed a black and white view of horses.

rockcliffe horses

The direct route that I wanted to take from Rockcliffe was closed for resurfacing so I had to go round by the cycle lane along the new northern by-pass.  This led me past a newly constructed pond and I was pleased to see that what could just have been a utilitarian run off pool had been carefully sculpted and planted with reeds.

pond near asda

I turned for home and crossed the A7 at Blackdyke, and on my way, I passed this, the first dandelion of spring.

first dandelion of spring

From there I headed onto the Brampton Road, joining it opposite this  fine row of trees..

three trees brampton road

…and then I stopped for a sit on a bench below the Longtown bridge for a final snack and drink.


I was hoping for some waterside bird life but there was none, so I took a shot through one of the arches…

longtown brodge arch

…and, with the wind now behind me,  I cycled home up the hill a good deal faster than I had come down.

The day was so well adjusted for cycling that I might well have gone further but my legs, which are a bit out of practice, objected so I settled for 53 miles at a modest pace and was very pleased to have had the opportunity to do that.

I said a day or two ago that the flowers in the garden were just waiting for a bit of sun to come out.  They got a bit of sun  today and they came out.

clump of blue crocus

single crocus

creamy crocus

I was interested to see a lot of insects about.

pale crocus


yellow crocus

Mrs Tootlepedal reported that she had seen a bee early in the afternoon but it had left before I arrived.  We are going to refer to it as Bee A as it is the first that we have seen this year.

She did some gardening while I checked on the frogs….

two frogs in pond

They were not seeing eye to eye today

…and then I went in to make a cup of tea and watch the birds.  There were not many about.

chaffinch head down

A second helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pie round off a good day very well.  We had some marrow on the side.  We have had a big marrow on the go for several weeks and it has provided many side dishes for meals and shows no sign of going over at all.  It is the only one of our own vegetables left as the fish pie had used the last of our home grown potatoes. Still, we have been eating our own potatoes since August so we can’t complain. They kept very well thanks to the good summer.

Birds were very few and far between when I was watching today but I did find a flying chaffinch of the day.

flying chaffinch

Those interested can click on the map below for more details of the ride.
Garmin route 22 Feb 19

A final note: the traction on my back seems to have helped my foot problem a lot and it is much less painful than it has been.  I hope that this progress continues.

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Today’s guest picture shows two very interesting bricks from Scottish brickworks. The brickworks were proud enough of their bricks to put their name on every one they made. Our son Tony came upon them in the course of his work.

Tony's bricks

Today was passed in a state of suspended animation.  It was another nice day (although it did spoil it by raining for a few minutes in the early evening) but I didn’t go cycling through a combination of things to do and feeling rather tired.

We are going on holiday tomorrow so there was grass to be mowed, apples to be picked, cooked and frozen, insurance to be purchased and the list of things that we need to take and think about had to be made.

I did get out into the garden with a camera from time to time in the midst of all this and noticed two bees in very sharing mode.

bees on dahlia

I dead headed poppies….


There seems to be a never ending variety of colours

…cosmos, dahlias, calendula and rudbeckia but I noticed that there is always another head to dead when you look at the lot you have just completed.   Mrs Tootlepedal edged the front lawn and thinned plants out so things look reasonably neat.

I took pictures of a cornflower and our current stock of clematis as I went along.



The garden is full of blackbirds flitting about.  Mrs Tootlepedal counted seven at the same time when she leaned out of an upper window this morning.  I saw this one on a fence later on.


Mike Tinker dropped by after lunch to show us one of his bicycle collection.

Mike's bike

He told that this was his mother’s bike, complete with dynamo for lights and a three gear hub.  We were very impressed by the sporty handlebars.  It was in good working order as he demonstrated when he rode off on it.

After he had left, I admired the nerines…


…and saw a peacock butterfly on the Michaelmas daisies…

peacock butterfly

…before driving down to Longtown to get a spare of music and computing glasses which were waiting for me at the opticians.

When I had recovered from the shock of paying for them (the receptionist kindly made sure that I was sitting down before she gave me the bill), I went off for a walk along the river.

It was sunny but there were plenty of clouds about….

Longtown bridge

…but I got my walk in without getting rained on for more than twenty seconds.

There must have been a lot of insects about near the bridge because there were industrial quantities of grey and pied wagtails shooting up into the air from the rocks in the middle of the river.  They were a bit too far away for me to capture on the whole picture…


There is a pied wagtail on the extreme left of the frame and a grey wagtail on the extreme right

…but one grey wagtail came close enough  to be easily recognisable.

grey wagtail

I walked down the river and round the ponds without seeing much in the way of wild flowers, perhaps because there were great swathes of Himalayan balsam everywhere.

himalayan balsam

It is a pretty plant but it smothers all the opposition.

The ponds were looking very peaceful….

Longtown pondsLongtown ponds

But I would have needed my new long lens to get any water fowl pictures.

I could see Arthuret Church across the fields…

Arthuret Church

…and it was clear enough to see the windmills on the far side of Langholm.

Craig windfarm

I was hoping to find a good crop of blackberries to eat as I went round but it was obvious that a very determined picker had got in before me and there were hardly any left.  I could have eaten any amount of elderberries though…


…but I let that opportunity go.

The clouds looked even more threatening when I got back to the town…


…but for once, I was in the right place at the right time and drove home in pleasantly sunny conditions.

In the evening Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had a short play before they went off leaving us time to do our packing.

No flying bird of the day today but another look at some clear skies.  I had to get up just before 6 o’clock this morning, impelled by one of those necessities familiar to readers of a certain age and when I looked out of the window, I could see the morning star shining brightly above the monument on Whita Hill.  I could have gone downstairs to get my good camera and the tripod but it was six o’clock in the morning for goodness sake so I just pointed my phone out of the window and hoped for the best.

morning star above Whita

It did what it could.

Posts may be very variable for the next few days while we are away.

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Today’s guest picture from my brother Andrew is an interesting addition to our bridge portfolio.  My brother tells me that it is Exeter’s old mediaeval bridge.  It had three times as many arches when in use, as the river was then quite wide, but when the first single span bridge was built in the eighteenth century, the river banks were raised to narrow the crossing, and this half of the old bridge was buried, to be rediscovered when the twin two lane bridges were commissioned in the last century!

Exeter bridge

Once again I started the day with a visit to the Moorland Feeders, this time as a stand-in feeder filler for Sandy who has gone to visit his son.  It was pretty gloomy again so taking pictures was unrewarding work but at least I saw slightly more variety in the bird life.

Among the usual flock of chaffinches…


…there were two or three woodpeckers about…

greater spotted woodepecker

…and even a sole brambling.  It didn’t stop long enough for me to do it justice…


…but I was pleased to see it anyway.

The tits kept away from the hide today and clustered on the far side of the clearing…

great tit blue tit coal tit

Great, blue and coal tits sharing

I wonder if this is the same ringed chaffinch that I saw yesterday.


I didn’t put out any seed on the stump in front of the hide today as I was fed up with the pheasant stealing it.  She was not happy.


Not happy at all.

I didn’t stop long though, as Dropscone was due to come round for coffee.  He duly came and we enjoyed coffee and scones.  He has been troubled by a sore hip and hasn’t been able to play golf for a bit but he is improving and hopes to play again fairly soon.

When he left, I had a stroll round the garden but no new flowers had  appeared so I went back in.  It was pretty warm at 9°C but I was feeling too tired to go for a pedal, especially as there was a brisk wind blowing.   I don’t know why I am tired and I am putting it down to asthma in the gloomy damp weather.  I shall take my medicine more conscientiously and hope to improve.

Meanwhile, I stared out of the window.  A chaffinch was showing off.


I had a bit of variety here too as a greenfinch showed up for a quick nibble.

greenfinch, goldfinch and siskin

Instead of pedalling, I gave my fairly speedy bike a good wash and brush up after lunch.  It needed it.  I pumped the tyres up too so all I need now is a nice sunny day, no wind and a little energy and I will be good to go.

The main event of the day was the return of Mrs Tootlepedal from her visit to her mother so some time had to be spent on a little hoovering and dusting before I went off to Carlisle to collect her from the train.  I was able to track the progress of her train in real time on my phone and finding myself a little ahead of time, I stopped in Longtown to put in some petrol and took the opportunity to go down to the river and admire the fine five arch bridge there.

Longtown Bridge

I was expecting to see a little more water flowing under the bridge after the recent rain.

I noticed a fine tree on the river bank.

Tree at Longtown

Over to the west, two holes had been punched in the cloud cover…


…but they soon closed up again.

I drove on to Carlisle and arrived at the station with a few minutes in hand.  I took a look at the extensive scaffolding under the roof repairs….

Carlisle Station

…and wondered if they had actually started work on the new roof yet.  I walked along to the end of the platform and found that work has begun.  I watched a very skilled driver hoisting a big load of steel beams high into the sky to the waiting workers above.

Carlisle Station

A man on the lorry delivering the beams thought that I ought to be taking his picture but I told him the machine was more interesting and he promptly offered me a job as a labourer.  I said I would think about it and went off to meet the train which was pulling into the platform dead on time.

(Just to clear up the job offer for those who might raise an eyebrow, we were both being mildly humorous.)

As well as her mother, Mrs Tootlepedal had met her French domiciled sister Nicki in Marlow and my stepmother Patricia and our daughter Annie in London before catching the train so she had had a good family visit.  All the same, she was pleased to be home and we sat down to a celebratory meal of cauliflower cheese for our tea.

I am pleased that she is home too.

The flying bird of the day is an angry chaffinch.





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Today’s guest picture, kindly sent to me by Mary Jo from the land of proper snow, is designed to stop me moaning about our weather.  It won’t work though.  She tells me that she is currently looking after three houses and is keeping very fit shovelling snow.

Canada snow

We had a rather nice day here, with the thermometer showing a balmy 5°C.  It still took me quite a time to get myself organised to go out on my fairly speedy bike.  I had plenty of time while I footled about to look out of the window.  I am still waiting hopefully for the return of the long tailed tits but once again, I had to make do with short tailed coal and blue tits.

coal tit and blue tit

Visitors to the feeder were rather distracted this morning…

chaffinch and goldfinch

…although some concentrated hard on hitting the spot.


The Christmas robin is working overtime.


And a wood pigeon stalked through the undergrowth.

wood pigeon

I finally got going and it turned out to be an excellent day for December cycling.  The roads had mostly dried out, the wind was light (and helpful on the way home) and the sun made a really good effort to shine.

Cleuchfoot view

It was very hazy but not as bad as parts of England where thick fog persisted for the whole day.

I stopped to admire some passing trees.

tree at Tarcoon

One had had a very brutal haircut.

tree at Glenzier

I wanted to have another look at the windmills at Gretna….

Gretna windmills

..which are not actually turning yet.

Because I was cycling in the opposite direction as I went past them, I couldn’t find the exact spot where I took my picture yesterday but I am sure that it was I and not the camera that was confused and the pylons are indeed in front of the turbines at the spot where I took the shot.

I cycled on through Gretna Green down to the border and into England.  I hadn’t really planned a route but it was such a nice day that I headed on south with vague ideas of an interesting route home but when it came to the stop to eat my banana at the twenty mile mark, it became apparent that the banana was still sitting on the kitchen table and not resting snugly in my back pocket.

As I didn’t have any money on me, I was stymied and had to take a short and sensible route home.  I pedalled gently along, stopping from time to time for a drink of water and a rest….

Longtown bridge

The Longtown bridge provided a good excuse for a pause

…and got home after 37 miles feeling quite peckish.

Still, the ride took me up to 4100 miles for the year so I feel that I have thoroughly met my target.  I am now considering what I should take as my target for next year.  4000 again? 4200? 4500?  Or an ambitious 5000?  It all depends on health and weather so I might settle for a modest target and secretly hope to beat it.

I had time for a look in the garden when I got home and was impressed by the amount of rain over the festive season recorded by our scientific rain gauge.

rain gauge

A tiny flower had a tear in its eye.


I did some energy topping up and had a shower  and had time to exchange a few words with Mike Tinker who had dropped by before I had to go off to the Health Centre for a routine visit.

Mrs Tootlepedal has been slaving over a tricky jigsaw puzzle which our older son gave her for Christmas and she finally finished it today.  Tony had asked me for a photo of Mrs Tootlepedal and her mother and if I had known what it was for, I would have given him a higher resolution photo but it turned out surprisingly well in the end.


It was a very good idea for a present and I might well think about it myself next year.

In the evening, I went out to a public meeting in the Buccleuch Centre to discuss the future of our local paper, The Eskdale and Liddesdale Advertiser.  The current owners, a Carlisle based newspaper group, are planning to close it and there a scheme afoot to form a Community Interest Company here to take it over and run it as a non profit making business.

The non profit making bit will be all too easy to achieve but running it as a business will require a lot of expertise, goodwill and enthusiasm.  There was a good turnout at the meeting so we may be able to hope for the best.

The leaf of the day is made up of these green shoots of growth…..

green shoots of growth

….and the better light this morning gave me the chance to take a slightly more respectable flying chaffinch of the day.

flying chaffinch



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Today’s picture shows a rather selective burst of autumn colour seen by my daughter.


The weather here recently has remained very reasonable, except for the strong winds.  Luckily for my plans, the wind had dropped this morning and I was feeling well enough for a tentative pedal with Dropscone.  We set off round the morning run and my idea was to peel off and head for home after a few miles, leaving Dropscone to go round the rest of the circle by himself.   As it turned out, Dropscone set such a forgiving pace that I was able to go round the whole twenty miles with him.  This cheered me up immensely.   I was even able to ignore some annoying drizzle that followed us round.

This was very satisfactory indeed and I can report that I felt no ill effects later in the day so I think that I can officially say that I am cured  (though it might be better to wait to see how I feel tomorrow just in case).

On our return, I discovered that Dropscone had baked such an enormous pile of drop scones that I had to ring up Arthur and get him to come round to help dispose of them all.  With the aid of some good coffee and fresh raspberry jam, we managed to scoff the lot with surprisingly little difficulty.

All in all, it was an excellent start to the day.  To make things better, the rain had stopped by the time that we had finished our snack.

After lunch, I had a moment to walk round the garden….


A lone philadelphus blossom in October. Amazing.

Shirley poppy

A shy retiring Shirley poppy

Shirley poppy

Three more assertive ones snake their way upwards.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to work in the afternoon and I went off to Longtown.  I needed to buy a new track pump for the bicycles as the old one has started letting more air out of the tyres than it was putting in which is not helpful.  I added a  mini pump which will fit onto my speedy bike frame.  It has a little gauge on it which is useful when you are inflating a tube after a puncture as it is difficlut to tell how much air these mini pumps have put in.

I combined the trip to the bike shop with some photograph opportunities. It was sunny when I set out and  I was hoping for some autumn colour but in spite of some changse, the trees are staying obstinately green for the most part.  I stopped at Gilnockie Bridge on my way down to Longtown and looked north and south over the bridge.  The sun popped behind the clouds while I was there.


Looking north


Looking south…a canyon of trees.

I took these two using the tripod but they didn’t look much different from this one which I took hand held with a lighter lens on board.


I parked the car in Longtown after I had been to the bike shop and walked along the banks of the Esk towards the ponds.  The sun was shining brightly as I started my walk and the bridge over the Esk looked very fine.

Longtown Bridge

By the time that I had got to the ponds, the sun was behind the clouds again….

Longtown ponds

…and it stayed there while I walked past the ponds….

Longtown ponds

…and only came out when I was beside the river on my way back.


The camera on the phone enjoyed the sunshine a lot

The last two pictures were only taken half an hour apart but it felt like a different day.

As I walked along the river, I saw a large black bird swimming.  My approach alarmed it and it took off.

black bird at Longtown

I am pretty sure that it was a cormorant.  It flapped up the river and settled down again and then played ‘dodge the photographer’ with me for the next ten minutes before turning and flying off over my head.


I like bridges in general but I like the bridge at Longtown in particular because it shows such a different aspect of itself as you walk towards it.  Although it is a busy bridge with six arches, on a main road and sitting between the an industrial estate and the town itself, it might as well be in the heart of the country when you first see it.

Longtown Bridge

It looks quite different as you get nearer.   The sun was shining with great vigour by the time I got closer to it and it looked gorgeous.

Longtown bridge

I took a final close up.

Longtown bridge

I noticed a fisherman making good use of the bridge for comfortable fishing.

Longtown bridge

A duck nearby was doing some fishing of its own.


The whole visit to Longtown was most enjoyable in spite of both the cormorant and the sunshine playing hide and seek.

I made a loaf of bread when I got home and had time to look out of the kitchen window while i was doing it.

goldfinch and chaffinch

A goldfinch and a chaffinch exchange views

The goldfinches seem to have come out on top because the next time I looked, I saw this.


I was feeling very virtuous because I had taken the feeder to pieces in the morning and given it a thorough clean.

Mrs Tootlepedal came home from work and we had tea together before she went off to the Buccleuch Centre to see a film and I went off to Carlisle with Susan to play with the recorder group for the first time for what seems like ages.  We remembered how to play however and enjoyed a good evening of music both ancient and modern.  Sandy and I had seen an impressive shooting star on our way home from the camera club last night and as it was a very clear night tonight, Susan and I kept our eyes out for another one but saw nothing.

Among the excitements of cormorants, swans, ducks and goldfinches, a traditional chaffinch still made the position of flying bird of the day his own.















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