Posts Tagged ‘Potholm Bridge’

Today’s guest picture comes from a Welsh correspondent Keiron.  He saw this fine tree in Ystradgynlais a day or two ago and thought that I might like it as I am fond of trees.

Ystradgynlais tree

It was a sunny day here today, but as it was also freezing when we got up, we were in no hurry to get the active part of the day going and sat and read the papers after breakfast until it was time for coffee.

The birds were not very active either, and the only birds that came near the feeder in the morning were a pair of chaffinches.

frosty chaffinch

Stimulated by our cup of coffee, we leapt gently into action and went for a walk.  We did think of a drive to a start point but we couldn’t think of one which we both fancied so we settled for the walk from the town up the River Esk to Potholm and back again.

We had done this walk three weeks ago an a very gloomy day so this time we decided to go round it in the opposite direction, starting by crossing the river by the Langholm Bridge.

There were plenty of gulls to be seen on the river when we looked from the bridge….

view from Langholm Bridge

…and I had my bird camera with me, so we stopped for a moment to enjoy the black headed gulls in flight and on the ground.

four gull panel

It was a grand day for a walk, and if you could get out of the chilly wind, there was even a hint of warmth from the sun.

Although we were walking a familiar route, it didn’t stop us enjoying the sights as we went along through the woods…

road to Holmhead

…over culverts….

bridge on Longfauld track

…and past tree plantations.

young spruce in winter

The views up the valley were delightful in the sunshine.

view of Milnholm

Rather to her surprise, Mrs Tootlepedal had read recently that beech tree leaf litter is slow to rot and does not contain much in the way of useful nutrients  and with that in mind, the clear ground under the beech trees which we passed was explained.

beech wood longfauld

I have always liked the openness of beech woods but I had never understood that the beech leaves themselves were probably suppressing the competition on the forest floor.

There was not a lot of fungus to be seen but I liked this colourful clump on a tree stump at Potholm..

tree stump fungus

…and this pale outbreak on a growing sapling near by.

fungus on sapling

As I had my bird camera with me, we kept an eye out for buzzards on the way.  The sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal spotted quite a few, but they were circling high in the sky and my 300mm lens could not get very close to them.

two high buzzards

At one time, we could see five at the same time, but all them out of range.

A robin in a tree at Potholm as we came down to the bridge was more co-operative and sang loudly to make sure that we didn’t miss it.

robin at Potholm

On the bank below the robin, snowdrops were talking about spring.

snowdrops at Potholm

We stopped at the bridge for a small snack…

potholm bridge

…and then we headed homewards along the road.  The fields were astonishingly green.

green fields milnholm

A  young cow regarded us with curiosity.

cow on potholm road

And the wall beside the road offered a feast of lichen.

six lichen on potholm road wall

At the end of the Potholm road, we joined the main road back into Langholm.  It is lined with concrete posts which hold the metal bars which stop errant cars falling down the steep slope into the river below.  Two of the posts caught my eye.

two concrete fence posts B709

We got home after 5.4 miles, quite ready for a cup of tea.  Mrs Tootlepedal had enough strength left to cycle down to the Co-op to do some shopping so that she could make a dahl for our evening meal and I had enough strength left to eat it.  It was very good and rounded off a peacefully pleasant day very well.

One of the Kilngreen gulls is the flying bird of the day,

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture is another from Mary Jo.  This one is from Manitoba and shows a tree that took to autumn in stages.

Mary Jo's tree

We were greeted by frosty weather when we got up today, but once again it was dry so we weren’t complaining too much.  It was too cold for cycling and I was very happy to welcome Dropscone for coffee and scones.  He had been away for a golfing weekend having received a bargain offer from a hotel chain that was too good to resist.

When he left, I spent a little time watching the birds.  Once again,there were plenty to watch, especially goldfinches.

busy feeder goldfinches

In fact the number of goldfinches led to some slight altercations.

goldfinches action

I managed to while away the rest of the morning until midday without doing anything of note but then I thought that in spite of still being pretty chilly, it might be the time to take my new camera out for a walk.  It was rather grey but the camera was able to recognise one old friend on the near side of the river…

gull with new camera

…though the gloomy conditions were almost too much for it when it came to a goosander on the far side of the Esk.

goosander out of range

It had no trouble at all with another old friend once I had crossed the river by the Town Bridge.


I crossed the Sawmill Brig and took the upper track to the North Lodge.

The leaves are in three minds about autumn.  These ones on a beech hedge are only just turning…

leaf turning

…while a hundred yards or so further along my walk, there were only a few left on the trees.

Pathhead tarck

I interrupted a sheep having its lunch while I was on this section of track.

sheep having lunch

I noticed that the light seemed to be getting better and as I walked on, the sun came out. The effect was quite magical.

Holmhead wood

It wasn’t just the leaves that were affected by the sun.  When I got to the North Lodge, where  had intended to turn and head for home, the splendid view up the valley and a bit of warmth on my back persuaded me to give my feet a good test and I continued up the Longfauld track.

voew from north lodge

Not long ago, this track was lined with tall conifers on both sides and there were no views.  Now the felling of the woods has transformed the walk and there are fine views to be had…

golf and bauchle hill

…and the track is light and airy.

longfauld tarck

The track follows the east bank of the Esk and I could look across the river and see the road that I would take on my way home on the other side.




At the end of the track, kindly people, foreseeing the needs of elderly walkers, have placed a handy bench upon which I paused for a while…

seat above potholm

…before following the road downhill…

track down to potholm

…to the river which I crossed by Potholm Bridge.

potholm brodge

There was very little wind and it felt pleasantly warm in the sunshine as I ambled along the road, admiring trees as I went.

The trees came in small and neat…

tree above milnholm road

…and bigger and untidy.

tree at breconwrae

I liked both.

By the time that I had got to the end of the road, the sun had sunk behind the hill even though it was still early afternoon, so I kept my camera in my pocket for the most part of the last mile of my walk.

I did take it out for the door in a wall.  Time has passed this door by…

gate at breckonwrae

…and so did I.

There is now a convenient gap in the wall a few yards further on and I used this to gain access to the woodland path that took me back to Langholm.

My last picture is of one of the many little culverts which help to keep the paths round here in good condition for walkers.

culvert near duchess bridge

I got home in a very contented frame of mind.  Both the camera and my feet had behaved well.  I had walked about five and a half miles, my longest distance for some months.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy day with a business meeting over lunch followed by a visit to the hairdresser.  She got home again in time to welcome our friends Mike and Alison for a cup to tea to celebrate their return from several weeks visiting family in New Zealand.

They were still recovering from jet lag but we had a good conversation about their travels.

I hope to be able to recommence playing Friday evening sonatas with Alison soon.

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir.  I enjoyed that too so all in all, it has been  a very good day.

The flying bird of the day is a horizontal goldfinch emerging from behind a plant.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture from Irving, taken earlier on,  shows the Black Esk reservoir, the source of our drinking water these days.

Black esk

After yesterday’s crisp and sunny weather, we could hardly have had a more different day today.  It was soggy, grey, cloudy and cold…

…but there were compensations.

snowy garden 2017

The view from an upstairs window in the morning

snowy garden 2017

Untrodden snow on the drive

It was a winter wonderland.  Or at least, it would have been a winter wonderland if there hadn’t been a persistent damp drizzle and if the clouds had lifted to reveal the hills.  As it was, it was somewhat of a damp squib of a day.

The birds really appreciated the feeder and there were dozens on the ground, on the feeder, on the plum tree and even more waiting off stage on the walnut tree.

snowy birds

Some birds seemed quite happy as more snow fell…

chaffinch, goldfinch, siskin

…but some just couldn’t contain their impatience.


I got out a shovel and cleared a path along the drive and some of the pavement outside the house and then after a look around…

snowy garden 2017

…went back in.

The day took a turn for the better when Dropscone came round with some traditional Friday treacle scones and my coffee blend worked out well.

We caught up on Dropscone’s golfing adventures and his family news and then he walked off through the snow again.

It had stopped snowing by this time so I thought that I ought to take a bit of exercise.  I strapped the Yaktrax to my wellies and set out to see where my fancy would take me.

It took me past the church…..

parish church snow

…with its details neatly picked out by the snow.

Then I passed the Meeting of the Waters, presenting a marked contrast to the sunny scene when we were here feeding ducks with Matilda a couple of days ago.

meeting of the waters snow

There was no golden winter light today and a rather ghostly scene appeared when I looked at the trees across the Castleholm.

snowy trees

Individual trees had been picked out by the falling snowflakes.

snowy trees

I met a jogger on the Lodge Walks.  She was running rather gingerly on the icy surface but remarked as she passed that the conditions on the track to Potholm further back had been more comfortable.

My fancy turned to the track to Potholm.

It would mean a five and a half mile walk in total but the lure of snowy scenes and good conditions underfoot led me on and I pushed ahead, ringing Mrs Tootlepedal first to stop her worrying about a longer absence than was expected.

The decision turned out to be a good one.

There were plenty of snowy scenes.

View of Potholm from Langfauld

And excellent walking on the track through the Langfauld wood.


The bridge at Potholm marked the furthest point of my walk.

Potholm Bridge

I met a second jogger coming towards me on the road from Potholm.

jogger on Potholm road in snow

The scene was white enough to make a sheep look quite grey by comparison.

sheep in snow

The snow and the grey sky made a good backdrop for this tree at the Breckonwrae.

tree in snow

And I finished up taking the same shot a the end of my walk as I had taken at the start of our walk yesterday.


langholm in snow


View from Scott's Knowe

Both walks had been really enjoyable.

I got back in time to have a very late lunch and enjoy a robin in the snow….

robin in snow

…and a couple of the many blackbirds scavenging under the feeder.


Because the weather was expected to be rather inhospitable later in the evening, Mike and Alison came round for the usual Friday evening visit in the afternoon.  Alison and I enjoyed playing pieces by Rameau, Loeillet and Woodcock and then we sat down with Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal to a cup of tea, some excellent home made (by Alison) mince pies and a few ginger biscuits to dunk in the tea.  It was a good way to round off the Christmas holidays.

Now we are preparing for the New Year.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch once again.  They are very reliable birds if you don’t have a lot of time to look out of the window..

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture shows an elegant Egyptian goose  spotted by my sister Mary in Regents’s Park yesterday.

Egyptian goose

The temperature stayed comfortably above freezing and, for the most part, the rain stayed away too so it should have been a good day for cycling.  A nippy north wind made me very ambivalent about the delights of getting out on the bike though and fortunately I had enough pleasant distractions to stop my bike averse behaviour upsetting me.

For a start, I went off to the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre where I was able to obtain all sorts of good things,  coffee beans, fish, venison, honey and some superlative goat’s milk cheese.  This made for a very up beat start to the day.

I had just got home when my older son and his partner arrived from Edinburgh for the purpose of personally delivering a bouquet of flowers to Mrs Tootlepedal in anticipation of Mother’s Day.  She was much touched.

They had brought one of their three dogs with them.  He is called Mylo.  He is the one on the left in the picture below.

Mylo and Tony

Mylo was full of beans so after a coffee, we went off to the park for doggy fun.




Getting dirty…


…and getting (fairly) clean again.

Tony , Marianne and Mylo stayed for lunch and then set off back to Edinburgh, where work called.

After they left, the weather got a bit worse so we watched some of the Davis Cup tennis and occasionally looked out of the window.

blackbird and sparrow

The Murray brothers were in good form and that helped to keep my mind off not cycling.

Things brightened up so Mrs Tootlepedal went out to do some gardening and I put on a warm jacket, thought about cycling and went for a walk, reckoning correctly that a well sheltered walk might be more fun than a battle with a brisk north wind out in the country.

I looked around the garden before I left.  The crocuses are getting on well.


The five mile walk turned out well.  It started with the usual sighting and disappearance of the oyster catchers…

oyster catchers

Now you see them, now you don’t….

…but finally, one obligingly posed for me and I was able to walk on.

oyster catcher

They have given up on oysters and mostly survive on worms I am told.

I saw the first sight of some new blossom and a good show of the long lasting snowdrops as I strolled along…

cherry and snowdrops

…through occasionally sunlit woodlands….


…with many opportunities for views.


My walk took me to Potholm where I looked across the river…

Clark Fell

…visited the site of an old castle…

Staplegordon Tower

The motte is all that remains.

…nodded at a sheep in passing…


…and went down to cross the river Esk by the new bridge.

Potholm Bridge

The day couldn’t quite make up its mind as to whether is was a fine day or not. There were spots of rain, dark clouds and bursts of sunshine, sometimes all at the same time.  The walk along the road past Milnholm was a delight.

Milnholm fields

Milnholm fields

Milnholm fields

And I was pleased to get home both dry and warm.

I might have spent the evening feeling bad about being too lazy to cycle just because of a little chilly wind but fortunately, the World Indoor Cycling Championships were available for discerning viewers on the telly and the action was quite exciting enough to make me forget all about my own cycling or lack of it.

That and regular nibbles of delicious cheese.

And a great sunset.


A five mile walk and a twenty mile bike ride take me about the same time but for some reason, the bike ride always seems like a much better piece of exercise than a walk.  I don’t know why this is but there is no doubt that cycling makes me feel well and walking makes me feel tired.    I think it might be about load bearing.

I didn’t have much time to look out of the window today so one of the fleeting ouster catchers is the (fuzzy) flying bird of the day.

flying oyster catcher

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Today’s guest picture shows the charming Old Bell Hotel in Derby.  It was taken by my sister Mary during her recent visit there.

The Old Bell Hotel, Derby

We had a calm day today and as we are forecast to have several days in a row of high winds and heavy rain, it could be correctly described as the calm before the storm.  It was so calm that when Dropscone and I arrived at the top of Callister on our way to Waterbeck on our morning pedal, the hill was shrouded in low cloud and mist.

Callister in mist

Dropscone had not been feeling at his best and had lagged behind a bit as we climbed the hill into the clouds.  A short stop to take the picture and have an investigation revealed that it wasn’t old age or incapacity that was holding him back but a seized up brake.  We got it loosened off and went on our way.  It was a day for back lights, especially as the quarry lorries and been diverted by road works onto our route so the pedal was by no means as peaceful as it should have been.

All was made well on our return by the judicious application of scones and honey with our coffee.

I am currently 10 miles ahead of my schedule of 14 miles per day cycling and need another 116 miles before the end of February to keep to my target so I  am hoping that the bad weather to come doesn’t last for too long. I don’t enjoy pedalling in rain and strong winds.  I was talking about the schedule to a lady at our choir in the evening and she was saying that it seemed a long way each day but as it turned out that she walked her dog for three miles every day and we both take about an hour to do our daily ration, she changed her view.

It wasn’t sunny but it was pleasantly warm for the time of year so I walked round the garden to see what was there.

As well as the snowdrops and primroses…

snowdrops and primroses

…there are crocuses coming along well….


…and some croaking in the pond revealed that the frogs are back and ready to go.


While I was crouching down to snap a crocus, a shadow fell across the lens.  It turned out to be a blackbird about three feet away from me.


The garden is full of blackbirds at the moment and you can hear more as you cycle along the roads round the town.  In fact, it wasn’t only the quarry lorries that had cut up our peace when we were pedalling earlier on, there was a steady chorus of birds as well.

I kept an eye on the chaffinches too.  I like it when they come in towards the feeder in neat lines.


It wasn’t always so well organised.  Which way is the bottom chaffinch flying?


The most welcome flower was this winter aconite.

winter aconite

It is all by itself at the moment but Mrs Tootlepedal planted 100 of them last year and is hoping that it finds a friend pretty soon.  They are hard to get established here.

Mrs Tootlepedal was at work in the morning but returned for lunch in the mood for a pedal so after another look at the feeder….


A greenfinch looks round to see who is standing on his back.

…and a shot of a military transport plane passing exceedingly low over the town…

low flying

…and a quick look round the garden, we set off to go round Potholm.  This is road and track 5 mile circle which goes past the snowdrops, through the woods and comes back along the road.  It was too dark to take pictures in the woods but we stopped when we got to the open farmland.

Potholm Bridge

We crossed Potholm Bridge


And admired the woods on the far bank of the Esk

We were keeping an eye for lichen and fungus as we went.  There was lichen on the bridge….


..and a feast of fungus on a fallen beech tree at Milnholm.


fungus on beech tree

It was so striking that I took another view of it.

fungus on beech tree

There was some coral spot along the trunk of the tree so it was very good value.

The walls along the fields as we went towards the Breconwrae offered up a wide selection of lichens in many colours.

lichens on wall near Breconwrae

When we got home, Mrs Tootlepedal did a little gardenkeeping in the garden while I went off for a short walk to see if I could find some riverside fungus.  Nothing caught my eye except for a flourishing lichen on a tree near the church.

tree lichen

In the evening, we went to a practice for our local choir, Langholm Sings.  We are preparing for a joint concert with the local orchestra doing Gilbert and Sullivan numbers and as is often the way with joint ventures, things weren’t quite as well organised as they might have been with some uncertainty about what we are actually going to sing.  The songs require many soloists as well as chorus work and in the absence of other volunteers, I have offered to do one of the easiest ones myself.  Mrs Tootlepedal is astonished at my self confidence since I have had little experience of singing but not being able to do things has never put me off trying.  For those with a knowledge of G&S it is Sir Joseph Porter’s song from HMS Pinafore.  It is a ‘patter’ song and doesn’t require the highest vocal technique.  This is lucky.

I was surprised, given the warmer weather today, that the birds ate twice as much food from the feeder as they have been doing.  Perhaps they are getting their energy up for the mating season or maybe they know something about the coming weather that we don’t. Maybe though, it is a cost benefit analysis thing and it is simply that the birds don’t need to use so much energy flying when it is warmer so more came to the garden.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.




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Today’s picture, which comes from Dropscone, shows the damage caused by the heavy rains of not long ago to one of the paths on Langholm’s golf course.  They are hoping that there is no more heavy rain soon.Golf path

We had our fifth day without rain in a row and although the car windscreen was covered in ice, the frost hadn’t been hard enough to do any great damage in the garden.  It was too cold to cycle but as I had an appointment to have a blood test at the health centre, I wouldn’t have been able to pedal anyway.

As I came back from the health centre, I was able to reflect that on a day like today, there are many visual compensations for losing a drop of two of the vital liquid.  These are three views from the suspension bridge as I walked home.

Caroline Street

Elizabeth Street

Looking down river

Dropscone dropped in for coffee and scones, having been shopping in Carlisle bright and early first thing and Arthur joined us too so the morning progressed very pleasantly.  As well as Arthur and Dropscone, we are also playing host to a good crew of goldfinches.

Goldfinches gather for their breakfast

Three goldfinches gather for their breakfast

I was pleased to see how well the flowers have coped with the chilly mornings.


An undaunted marigold, as bright as the day.


A primula, battered but unbowed.

We have a regular squad of starlings at the moment and I am keeping the fortress off the fatballs to give them a chance to get a snack when they come.


I like the way that their colouring seems to vary according to the available light.

If the rooks and jackdaws start coming too, the fortress will go back on, as I can’t afford to feed them as well.

A quick walk round the garden after coffee showed a nicotiana surviving…


…and a phlox phlourishing.


Although I don’t have a macro lens, the big zoom lens that I do have lets me take quite detailed pictures of small creatures and I have never looked at hoverflies with any interest before now, thinking that they were probably just wasps or bees.

Helophilus pendulus

Helophilus pendulus I think. I love the amazing faces of these insects.


I am not sure what this one is. It may be a drone fly.

While I was peering at the hoverflies on the Michaelmas daisies, a tortoiseshell joined us.  It was glowing in the sun.


I took a shot of a basking chaffinch just for my sister Susan who likes a bird in the bush.

chaffinch in plum tree

He knew that he was having his picture taken.

When I went in to get ready for lunch, I saw these two chaffinches having a heated discussion to keep themselves warm in the shadows round the feeder.


Mrs Tootlepedal had been at work in the morning and as soon as possible after lunch, she took up her natural position.


I had done quite a bit of compost shifting before lunch so I had a good rest after my soup and cheese while she toiled but the day was too good to stay at home all day so we got the bikes out and went round Potholm.  The last time we did this run, we had to shelter under a tree as the heavens opened but today, the weather couldn’t have been finer.

The Milnholm road

The Milnholm road

We stopped on Potholm bridge to take in the scene and I was able to add a fourth fine view of the day from a bridge.


When we got back from Potholm, Mrs Tootlepedal went in but I pedalled on up the road to Wauchope Schoolhouse just to shake the stiffness out of my legs.

I stopped to take a picture of the Wauchope in fine rippling form.


This may be the last really fine day of the year judging by the weather we have had so far so I was happy to be pedalling around while the going was good.  When I got home, I spent ten minutes trying to get a really sharp picture of a flying goldfinch but they have a habit of sneaking onto the feeder perches from behind and this was the best that I could do.

goldfinch approaching

I like the generous wingspread of the anonymous bird behind the feeder.

In the evening, I went up to the Archive Centre with Sandy.  We have finally got a reliable internet connection there but Sandy’s computer has recently been upgraded and we couldn’t get its connection to work so we didn’t stay long.   Sandy has lent me the camera which he won in a photo competition recently as it is surplus to his requirements and I am going to try it out as a lightweight cycling camera with a wide range of controls.  It looks very good and if I like it, Sandy has offered to sell it to me at a very reasonable price.  What a nice chap he is.  I am hoping for some reasonable weather to give it a go.
I got up twice in the middle of the night last night to see if I could see the much touted Aurora Borealis but saw absolutely nothing.  It was very disappointing as the night was brilliantly clear and there was a fine show of stars.

After the goldfinch failure, I have had to fall back on a flying chaffinch again.




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