Posts Tagged ‘Meikleholm’

To make a change from endless pictures of moss, my guest picture of the day is a moose The picture came from Venetia, who saw the moose in Grand Teton National Park.

moose, in Grand Teton National Park

The wind is in the east at the moment, which often means sunnier days for us and this was the case today.

It also means cold mornings.

The frogs disappeared because of the cold morning but a daffodil appeared.


And we did have wall to wall sunshine so after the frosty start, the temperature went up to a pleasing 7°C and this combined with a very light wind, opened the day to many possibilities.

After breakfast, the light was good enough to encourage bird shooting through the kitchen window.  Not all my efforts were entirely successful…

flying chaffinch

…but some were better than others…

flying chaffinch

…and some were quite action packed.


After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal turned to gardening and I took my walking poles in hand and went to the top of a hill and came down a again.

I had my camera with me for once.

I liked the contrasting colours as I walked up Meikleholm Hill…

View from Meikleholm Hill

…and I was surprised to see how much of the ground that I trod on was made up of mosses.

moss on Meikleholm Hill

You may think that the green hill on the right of the fence is grassy but in fact the pale grey patches are grass and almost all the green is moss.  Far from walking up a grassy hill, I was climbing a moss covered boulder.

moss on Meikleholm Hill

There was even a patch of moss clinging to the side of the concrete trig point on the top of Timpen Hill at 326m.

moss on timpen trig point

The view from the top was good.  That is the River Esk curling up the valley.

Esk from Timpen

On the far side of the Esk, I could see another example of tree felling followed by some very neat tidying up.

tree felling Longfauld

To the north, the Ettrick hills still had a little snow on their tops.

Ettrick Hills in background

Coming back down the hill, I stopped to admire the moss in one of the boggy patches.

bog moss

And of course, it is illegal to be out on the hill on a fine day and not take a picture of the town.

Langholm from Meikleholm

It is a very rewarding route for a walk of well under three miles.

I found Mrs Tootlepedal in delving mode when I got back and while we were chatting, we noticed a bird singing away in a very forceful manner.  We followed its flight on to the silver pear and I was very surprised to see it was a dunnock.

dunnock on pear tree

I usually see these creeping about silently in a very unobtrusive manner under the bottom of hedges so I can only assume that love must be in the air already and either mates are being attracted or rivals discouraged…..or both.

On my way round the garden, looking for exciting mosses, I saw these instead…


…and Mrs Tootlepedal told that they are liverworts.

After a pause for recovery and lunch, I got the fairly speedy bike out and set off to see where my legs would take me.

They took me to the top of Callister Hill (223m) and back down again.  I was going to put some additional miles in when I was waved down by a passing motorist who turned out to be a friend who wanted my opinion on the reprehensible behaviour of our local landowner.

This led to an interesting and lively discussion, conducted while aeroplanes overhead combine to drag clouds across the sky….

con trails and cloud

…and left me with just time to get home as the sun went down and the shadows lengthened.

cycling shadow

Secretly, I was not at all upset to lose a mile or two from my trip as the morning’s hill walk had taken a little stuffing out of my legs.

I found Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden again when I got back and we went out to admire the work on the dam bridge repair.

dam bridge repairs
It is looking very neat and tidy with a waterproof membrane now stuck on top of the concrete beams and the sides of the bridge completed.   We are waiting for the pavement edge to be re-installed, a bit of fill to be added to each edge of the bridge and then the final tarmac can be laid.

I still haven’t heard from the Queen regarding the Grand Opening.

In the evening, I took my third trip of the day.

Sandy arrived and he drove us down to Canonbie, where he and I delivered an illustrated talk on the work of the Langholm Archive Group to the Canonbie Tractor Club in the Cross Keys Hotel.   We followed the talk by a showing of the Langholm Heritage DVD on the mills and railway in Langholm which members of the group made a few years ago.

This must have gone down quite well as I sold six copies of the DVD (all I had brought with me) to members of the audience after the showing.

Everything went very smoothly.  This was by no means a given considering that we were using a laptop, a projector, a screen, a sound bar and the visitors’ wi-fi connection of the Cross Keys Hotel, any of which might have been in a contrary mood.

It was a day which has been firmly entered on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch




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The guest picture of the day comes from Dropscone’s recent trip to St Andrews and shows the ‘Chariots of Fire’ beach with the town in the background, both under a big sky.

St Andrew's

After the excitements of my birthday, I had such a good lie in this morning that I had to bustle through breakfast to be ready for coffee with Sandy.   As a result, I missed quite a lot of a bright and sunny morning with the heaviest frost of the year so far providing additional sparkle.

The combination of bright background and heavily shaded foreground made bird photography unrewarding after Sandy left but I did notice that my daughter’s gift of top quality fat balls was already attracting a blue tit…

blue tit

…or two.

blue tit

I hope that when the news is spread via Twitter there will be constant stream of visitors.

I had to look twice at this rather lumpy looking bird on the bench…


…before I realised that it was a cute robin after all.


Robins are able to change their outline at will and it is hard to think that this….


…may well be the same bird.

I was hoping that the temperature might creep up towards five degrees so that I could go for a pedal but it stayed stubbornly below three so I settled for a walk instead.

Three degrees may be a bit cold and potentially slippery for a cycle ride but it is perfect for walking.  I thought that the sunny weather might make for some good views but in spite of the cloudless skies…


…the light and the camera couldn’t agree and I took a lot of dull pictures in the first half of my walk.

last leaves of autumn

The last leaves of autumn

I did see some fungus but the frost had taken its toll on the exposed specimens.  However, I found some tiny fungi (1 cm in diameter) growing in a sheltered spot the middle of the woods.


I took a short cut down to the Becks Burn and crossed it using these fallen branches…

Becks Burn

…and a great deal of care.

I got through the woods and was just getting ready to try a landscape again when the camera refused to work, saying it had a ‘zoom error’.  The Lumix is one of those cameras that pokes out its snout when you switch it on but on this occasion, it gave a couple of feeble twitches and stayed resolutely shut.  I feared the worse as zooms are often a source of breakdown.

My plan was to cross the Auld Stane Brig and climb up the hill on the opposite side of the Wauchope valley and then come home down the Stubholm track.  It went well up to a point.

I had my phone with me and was able to use it to look back at the track that I had walked along on my way out as I climbed up the lower slopes of Warbla.

Becks Burn

…but when I got to the track that would take me back down to the Stubholm, there was a crowd of hill cattle round the gate that I would have to go through.  I don’t like to wander through cattle so I reluctantly turned round and retraced my footsteps back down to the Auld Stane Brig and went home by the road along the river.

I took a view across the valley on my way down.

Calfield Rig

It was only half past one but you can see how low the sun already was.

When I got home, the feeder was already in shadow again so there was no chance to take cheerful bird pictures at all today.

coal tit

I had some sweet potato soup for a late lunch and then I looked at the Lumix.  It was still refusing to open.  I take the view that WD40 or its generic equivalent is the answer to almost every mechanical problem so I crossed my fingers and squirted a drop or two of the magic fluid onto places on the camera which I thought might be useful.  After a pause to let things work in, I pressed the power button.  No good.

I had just taken a loaf of bread out of the breadmaker so I put the camera on a tea towel on the hot machine and gave it a chance to warm up.  After a while, I pressed the power button again. Hey presto, the camera opened and worked.

Here is the proof.

Lumix birds


I had an interesting discussion with a visitor who interrupted a walk with his dogs to talk about possibilities for the Archive Group, spent some time looking at music for our forthcoming Langholm Sings concerts and did the crossword and this was more than enough to fill the rest of the afternoon.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal, who had been volunteering at the Buccleuch Centre in the afternoon at a matinee, went back as a customer and attended a lecture on the Roman Camps at Burnswark while I went to a practice of Langholm Sings.  Our conductor was poorly and sent a substitute with the result that we didn’t get quite as much done as we needed but we have a couple more practices before our main concert so perhaps we might just be all right on the night.

Owing to getting up late and fiddling around with the Lumix, I didn’t get a leaf of the day today and the flying bird is a man of mystery.


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Today’s guest picture comes from a visit to Huntingdon by my brother Andrew.

Huntingdon High StreetWe were just considering our options for entertaining our daughter after breakfast when we were visited by our next door neighbour Liz.  She had found something intriguing on a path in the park and brought it in to show us.  I looked at it with some doubt…..

fir cone

It was about six inches long and rather soggy

…but closer examination by sensible people led us to the conclusion that it might be some sort of fir cone, especially as it had been found under a coniferous tree.  The end seemed to be missing and we wondered if it had been nibbled by a squirrel.  Anyway, we picked up cameras and binoculars and Liz took us to the scene of the discovery.

At first, there didn’t seem to be anything on the tree like the object but by using the zoom lens, I found a likely match right at the top of the tree.

fir conesThe lower branches were festooned with flower like objects.

noble firI have walked past the tree many, many times and never noticed the large cones before.   Some research by Annie and Mrs Tootlepedal when we got home seemed to point to the tree being a Noble Fir, which must have been brought in from America and planted in our park.  In general, the cones never fall off and just rot down on the tree which might explain why we have never seen one before.

While we were examining the tree, the park was filled with swallows flitting over the grass, sometimes flying past us as though we weren’t there.  They are nippy birds that never seem to rest and Annie and I clicked away furiously but mostly in vain.  These were my best two efforts.

swallows in the parkIt was rather a gloomy morning and we could have done with better light.

I had some more business to do with regard to the photo exhibition and then I put a week and a bit of the newspaper index in the Archive Group database and this took me up to lunchtime.

I looked at the bird feeder.

siskin and goldfinch

There were a lot of siskins about today and they were as fierce as ever.

After lunch there was a vague plan that Annie and Mrs Tootlepedal would go up to Eskdalemuir to look at the photo exhibition which Annie hasn’t seen, while I put another week or two into the database.  In the end, we were overcome by inertia and watched the Tour de France on the telly instead.  In our defence, it was a very exciting stage.  A stage goes on a long time though and while they were still pedalling away, I went out into the garden and mowed a lawn or two.

As well as the tall delphiniums, some more stocky ones have come into flower…

delphinium,…and the lone knapweed was proving to be an insect magnet.

knapweedWhile I was mowing, I was hailed by a voice at the front gate and it turned out to belong to Nancy, the Archive Group treasurer, who had been on a walk with a regular group of Tuesday afternoon walking ladies.  She was keen to tell me that they had passed a wonderful show of orchids beside a track on Meikleholm Hill.

This was interesting as I like orchids and once the stage had come to an end with a well deserved victory for Tony Martin, Annie, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off for a walk up the hill to see if we could find the orchids.  The day had brightened up by this time and although it was fairly windy, it was  warm enough to make for pleasant walking conditions.

We saw some interesting plants on out way up the hill….


I thought that these would be easy to identify but I can’t find them in my book

white flower and rattle

The one on the right is rattle but we were baffled by the little white flower.

We kept a wary eye out in case we missed the orchids but Nancy’s guidance was most precise and we need not have worried.  There were indeed a great many orchids all around…

orchids..and you could hardly miss them.

orchidsAnnie got down to the job of taking good pictures…

Annie taking orchids…and I tried my best without lying down.

orchidsIt was a real treat to see so many in one place.

We walked on along the track, admiring the views…..

view from meikleholm…until we got to the last drop down to the road.

meikleholm trackThere we had a choice of walking back to Langholm along the road or on a narrow track through the woods down to the Duchess Bridge.  We chose the track….

Walk 2… and were grateful when we heard a timber wagon thundering along the road above us.

We crossed the Duchess Bridge and walked along the edge of the Castleholm to the Jubilee Bridge. Here we crossed the river again and made our way home along Henry Street, having completed a most enjoyable circular walk.

On the Castleholm we saw the inevitable rabbit….

rabbit…and a final orchid.

orchidAlthough it was only a walk of about two miles or so, it was quite strenuous and we were happy to get a sit down when we got home.

Between the fir cones, the garden and the orchids (with views), I had taken well over 100 pictures during the day so it has been quite a task to throw so many away but it was helped becuase many of them were terrible.  Somehow the light wasn’t very co-operative today.

The flying bird of the day is sparrow looking out for fierce siskins before approaching the feeder.


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Today’s guest picture caught the eye of Bruce who was on a visit to Edinburgh’s Grassmarket.  You may need to click on the picture to read it properly.

day care

Today started with a visit to the dentist to check on the enduring toothache after my recent tooth extraction.  The dentist peered into my mouth and said cheerily, “That’s good, you won’t need to go to hospital to have that treated.”  My response was one of modified rapture as they say.   Still, he says that the pain may go away in a week or two so that gives me something to look forward to.

It was damp early on and once again the garden was full of wet petals and leaves….

wet flowers

…but it soon dried up and turned into a very nice morning.

I made the most of it by mowing a lawn and taking some garden pictures.


The elegant remains of the pale blue clematis

back wall

The back wall of the house along the dam is quite colourful at the moment.

Today’s new flower is another Iris.  Mrs Tootlepedal really likes the white outline to each petal.



I really like these Aubretia which are thriving in the chimney pot by the bird feeders

After lunch, I went out for a cycle ride as my joints were feeling a lot freer after my visit to the physio yesterday.  The start of the ride was delayed as I had to deal with a flat tyre but once I got going, everything went well and the pleasant warmth of the sunshine was more than enough to compensate for the lively breeze.

I didn’t want to do any hill climbing so I did three laps of the the seven mile trip to Wauchope School and back, a very undemanding route, and finished in good order.

Mike Tinker was visiting when I got back.  He and Alison have just got back from a week’s holiday in Wales and they enjoyed it so much that he has already booked a two week holiday in the same place for next year.  We are still thinking about a holiday for this year and may get organised before it is too late….or we may not.

After  a shower, I went for a little walk as it seemed too good a day to waste indoors and the forecast for the next few days is not promising.

Langholm is surrounded by four hills and I was able to see them all as I went round.







Castle Hill

Castle Hill

I started by crossing the Wauchope into the park…


…and walked along Gaskell’s Walk…


…until I came to the Auld Stane Brig…

Auld Stane Brig

…where I crossed the Wauchope again and joined the road that I had cycled along earlier in the afternoon to go back to the town.  I had one more river to cross…

Becks Burn

Becks Burn, not really a river I suppose.

…and a lot of wild flowers in the verges to enjoy.


In the evening, I went with Susan to Carlisle to play recorders.  As we drove in, we passed the bus bringing my daughter Annie from the station in Carlisle to stay with us for a couple of days.

The recorder playing was enjoyable, the sunset on the way home was delightful…


There is always a pylon

…and the presence of Annie when I got home rounded off a day that had started gloomily, improved by the hour and ended just about perfectly.

After a complete failure to provide a flying bird recently, a flock of homing pigeons at exercise allowed me to have many flying birds of the day today.





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