Posts Tagged ‘River Annan’

Today’s guest picture was taken by camera club member Mairi on our Beamish outing last weekend, and shows that there isn’t just light a the end of the tunnel, there is a Tootlepedal too.

beamish pipe dream

Our spell of excellent weather continued today.  We had a sunny day but it wasn’t too hot so that was the best of both worlds.

After breakfast, I wandered round the garden.

There are plenty more poppies to come.

poppy with followers

I took a few general shots of colourful corners as the garden is looking quite bright.

flower bed view july 1

flower bed view july 2

flower bed view July 3

Amongst all the colour, there is plenty of whiteness about.

white flowers

And a steady supply of red admiral butterflies.

red admiral butterfly

We had coffee and then we went down to Longtown to collect Mrs Tootlepedal’s shopping bike from the bike shop.  It has had its granny gear fixed so Mrs Tootlepedal can laugh at hills now.

While we were pottering around the garden when we got back, loud cries made us look up and a small flock of swifts could be seen circling above our heads.   They are very nippy so I was pleased to get this shot even though it is not of the highest quality.

swift in flight

As lunchtime approached, I ran out of excuses to justify any more dawdling, so I had a cheese and tomato sandwich and set out to do some pedalling.

There was enough wind in my face to make the first twenty odd miles hard work and I took care to give myself plenty of short breaks for a rest and a drink.  Although I wasn’t looking for wild flowers on my way round, sometimes my stops coincided with something interesting.

cycle wild flowers

This vivid buttercup meadow just out of Langholm was worth an unscheduled stop for itself.

buttercups bigholms

I came to the Hoddam Bridge across the River Annan at the twenty mile mark…

river Annan at Hoddom

…but I couldn’t get a good picture of the bridge as the sun was straight above it and both sides of the bridge were in shadow.

I crossed the river and headed uphill on the other side towards the Repentance Tower.

repentance tower

The tower, built in 1565, is perched on the very top of the hill but the climb was worth it for the splendid view down over the Solway.

solway view from repentance tower

The masts are the radio station at Anthorn on the English side.

Once I had dropped down the hill towards the coast, I could see the triangular peak of Skiddaw, one of the northern Lake District fells, across the neatly mowed fields.


It was a beautiful day to be out cycling and after the hard work of the first twenty miles followed by the climb up past the tower, a bit of downhill, some very flat roads and a following wind for the next twenty was very welcome.

I stopped for my 30 mile snack in Eastriggs, outside the Devil’s Porridge museum just next to Sir James, a ‘fireless’ engine.  The firelessness was necessary as it worked in an enormous explosive factory where a spark from a fire could have spelled disaster.

sir james devils porridge

(A fireless locomotive is a type of locomotive which uses reciprocating engines powered from a reservoir of compressed air or steam, which is filled at intervals from an external source.)

From Eastriggs I headed on to Gretna and crossed the river Sark by the (fairly) mighty border bridge between England and Scotland…


sark bridge

…and from there it was not far to get home.  Since I was now going uphill and the wind wasn’t helping so much, I was happy to stop to admire the orange hawkweed at the Hollows bus stop…

hollows bus stop

…and some very bright knapweed beside the bike route near Langholm.


I had hoped to do 50 miles and I actually did 51 so I was very content as I had a cup of tea at home with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She had spent more time collecting signatures.

After my refreshing cup of tea, I had enough energy left to mow the middle lawn and set the sprinkler on the front lawn…

…and have a last look at the flowers.

There was a lot of yellow (and some dancing feet)  to see…

four yellow flowers

…and the Rozeira de L’Hay had a curiously wriggling centre which turned out to be a bee.

rozeira de l'hay

I can’t get over Mrs Tootlepedal’s new salvia.  It is the flower with everything.


I retired indoors for a cool shower and and a nourishing meal of mince and tatties provided by Mrs Tootlepedal.  With Wimbledon and world cup football on the telly, finding an excuse for a quiet sit down after the meal was not hard.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch taking a good look to see of there was a spare perch about.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone, who has recently been playing golf in Girona in Spain.  Clearly, there was no rain in Spain while he was there.


There was no rain here today either but not quite as much sun as Dropscone has been enjoying.

I had to take the car to the garage early in the morning to get its brakes fixed.  The view from the suspension bridge as I walked back was a marked contrast with yesterday’s mist.

View from suspension bridge in autumn

It was a little chilly when I got home so I dawdled about and had a cup of coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal before finally setting off to make the most of a good day.

I had a bit of a moan after my ride on Sunday about losing speed on my cycle runs thanks to increasing age.   Many well intentioned readers advised me to stop moaning, live with the years and just enjoy cycling and taking pictures without bothering about average speeds.

I always take good advice so I pottered about today for the first twenty five miles and took many pictures on my ride.  Of course, it may have been the brisk wind in my face rather than the sheer enjoyment of going slowly that made me take so long but I was very content to stop and take pictures as I went.

I should say that I had a bit of time on my hands in the evening and some of the photographs from the ride may have been enhanced by the use of filters.   I don’t usually do much of this but the light was rather flat today and the pictures came out as less attractive than they were in real life.  I may have gone a bit further than real life with some of them.

Churches were my first subjects.

Johnstone Church

The Johnstone UP Church, Ecclefechan

This very fine set of hinges caught my eye as I turned onto the road to Hoddom in Ecclefechan.

Not far away, I came to the ruins of the church at Hoddom Cross.

Hoddom Cross

The church was destroyed by fire in 1975 and stands as a picturesque ruin in a graveyard that is still in use.  In the old part of the kirkyard, I found an ivy covered mausoleum.

Hoddom Cross church

The ivy is covered in flowers and will be of great interest to bees when the flowers come out.

My interest turned from churches to bridges and I went under an unusual one as I cycled on towards the River Annan….

Tree Bridge near Hoddom

…followed by something more traditional when I got to the river.

Hoddom Bridge

I cannot find out when this bridge was built but it is obviously of some age and has lasted very well considering that….

Hoddom Bridge

…things like this go over it every day.

I crossed the Annan using the bridge myself  and cycled down towards Brydekirk, where I crossed back over the river.

River Annan bridge at Brydekirk

This bridge was built in about 1800 and is one of several fine bridges that cross the River Annan.

Not far from the bridge, I came across a splendid gateway to a fine house.

Near Brydekirk

No filters were used on this picture. It really did look like this.

I turned off the road from the bridge onto a side road.  I had hoped that a beech hedge along this road would be worth a look but it was disappointingly green still…

Brydekirk road

…but the hedge did serve the useful purpose of sheltering me from the brisk cross wind along this stretch.

Once I had turned left when I met the road from Annan to Eaglesfield, I had the wind behind me and I did the next fifteen miles in 55 minutes of cycling time without having to try very hard at all.

I did stop on the way to admire a different kind of bridge though.

Kirtlebridge Viaduct

The viaduct carrying the West Coast main line crosses the valley of the Kirtle water….

Kirtlebridge Viaduct

…which I crossed on a more modest bridge.

Kirtle bridge

I had crossed the Kirtle Water near its source much earlier in my trip and I had now crossed both the Kirtle Water and the River Annan twice.

I felt the need for some refuelling so I headed down the old main road from Kirtlebridge to Gretna where I stopped for egg and chips at the Old Toll Bar.   A couple of raindrops landed on my head as I left the cafe and nearly made me regret my stop there but it was only a couple and the rest of my ride was dry and easy with the encouraging wind giving me a friendly push and keeping me going.

I went home by way of Longtown and Canonbie, meaning that I was following the course of the River Esk now and before I got home, I had crossed the Esk no less than six times.

The Esk was looking quite autumnal when I stopped at Byreburnfoot.

Byreburnfoot River Esk

And at my feet as I took the picture was a good crop of fungus which grows out of a patch of grass beside the road.

fungus at Byreburnfoot

I stopped as I crossed Skippers Bridge to note the contrast with yesterday’s misty shots.

Langholm Distillery in autumn

When I got to the town centre, I found that I had done 47 miles and I was seized with decimal fever and pedalled on through Langholm and out the other side, crossing the High Mill bridge and going half a mile up the road beyond it.

There I turned for home and having crossed the Canonbie, Hollows, Skippers and High Mill Bridges already, I crossed the High Mill bridge again and finished by crossing the Langholm Bridge which joins the Old and New Towns of Langholm.

While I was crossing rivers. Mrs Tootlepedal had been immersed in canals as she had been in the Buccleuch Centre at a screening of a film of the current Canaletto exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace.

It was hard to say which of us had had the better time.

There was enough time left in the day for Mrs Tootlepedal to do some gardening and for me to collect the car, mow the middle lawn and take a flower picture or two.

October daisies

Mrs Tootlepedal has borrowed one or two of the thousands of October daisies from the river bank which appeared in yesterday’s post and they have settled in very well in our garden.

perennial nasturtium

The perennial nasturtium or tropaeolum is still flowering

Japanese anemone

The bees seem to have discovered the Japanese anemone

red admiral butterfly

The red admiral butterflies keep coming.

Before the screening, Mrs Tootlepedal had been helping in the cafe in Buccleuch Centre over a very busy lunch time so we didn’t spend too long in the garden and retired inside for a well earned rest and a nourishing evening meal.

The good weather is not going to last and we are promised heavy rain overnight and tomorrow morning so I am glad to have got some miles in while the going was good.  My moaning and the subsequent good advice which I received seems to have purged my cycling melancholy and I really enjoyed today’s pedal.

The flying bird of the day is two of our more delicate poppies.

two poppies

Anyone interested in the details of the ride can click on the map below.

Garmin route 10 Oct 2107


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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce.  He came across this fine view on the hill road to Roberton near Hawick a week or so ago.

Bruce's view

After a rather slack period for cycling recently, a dry and calm day today was an excellent opportunity to get the fairly speedy bike out and put in a few miles.  The tyres needed pumping up and the chain needed cleaning but I was soon ready to go.

My intention was to see how my legs felt and adjust the distance accordingly but I got a bit overcome by taking pictures as I pedalled along and lost a few potential miles on the way.  Still, I did 64 miles and took 50 pictures so that seems like a good balance.  Readers will be pleased to know that not all the pics made it into the post!

I started with a big surprise only a mile or so from the house when I saw the hillside above Bessie Bell’s covered in bluebells.

Bruce's view

Another visit on foot is on my to do list.

The verges were full of wild flowers and the first three that I met were these.

wild flowers

I have forgotten what the golden spikes are called but the other two are speedwell and geum

I started my ride among the hills and I hoped to get some good pictures of the 22 windmills on the new Ewe Hill windfarm by going up the hill towards Corrie Common.  I could see the windmills (just) but in the rather poor light, my camera couldn’t so i will have to try again on a brighter day.

I did get a splendid view down into the valley on the far side of Corrie Common though and even on a gloomy day, it is a very pleasing prospect.


view from Corrie Common

Click on the pic for a bigger picture

The only fly in the ointment is that very poor road surface takes the fun out of going down the hill into the valley.

The little stream at the bottom is very picturesque…

Corrie common

…and the bridge has the usual gate to stop any sheep making a break for freedom by swimming.

corrie common road

I pedalled on over the hill to Boreland, a very pretty road even on a rather grey day…

road to Boreland

…and then turned west and descended into Annandale.  On the way down, I was stopped several times by wild flowers crying out to be photographed.

red campion, cranesbill, hawthorn and more bluebells

Sometimes I couldn’t fail to notice them.

red campion

A bank of red campion

When I got to Lochmaben,  I had a stop for a banana and a little rest beside the Mill Loch, a very peaceful place for a sit down…

Mill Loch Lochmabe

Mill Loch Lochmaben

…and then I pedalled on down the valley to Dalton and Hoddom.

I passed several flourishing horse chestnut trees.  I was not the only one interested in the flowers.

horse chestnut

I like this rather Hansel and Gretel like lodge at Hoddom Castle…

Hoddom Lodge

…and I looked up at the Repentance Tower on the hill above the road.

Repentance Tower

I couldn’t cross my favourite bridge over the River Annan at Hoddom without taking a picture…

Hoddom Bridge

…and I noticed some more wild flowers beside the river bank path while I was there.


Broom is arriving as the gorse begins to fade

dandelion and buttercup

From Hoddom, I headed to Ecclefechan and then went down the old main road to Gretna where I fortified the inner man with an excellent plate of egg and chips.

From Gretna, I took a direct route home as all my photo stops (and the egg and chips) had added a lot of time to my trip.

I did stop for a few more pictures.

My three favourite trees on the old A7 were looking well in the spring garb….

three canonbie trees

…and there were two rather delicately shaded flowers beside Canonbie Bridge…

comfrey and forget me not

Comfrey and Forget-me-not

…as well full spring clothing at Hollows Bridge…

Hollows Bridge

…and a great number of Pyrenean Valerian flowers once I got within thee miles of Langholm.

pyrenean valerian

Here is a map of the trip and those with time hanging heavy on their hands can click on the map as usual to get further details of the ride.

garmin route 17 May 2017 elevation

You can see that the route was well chosen for an old man with all the climbing at the start and the wind mostly behind on the way home.

The hilly start into the wind meant that my average speed was pretty low but it was a most enjoyable outing.  I mean to get as much pleasure as I can from the scenery and the surroundings and be less bothered by average speeds now that the better weather has arrived.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been very busy while I was out and had completed her pea fortress.

pea fortress

Just let the sparrows try to get into that!

Our garden was full of flowers too….

garden flowers

…and it is always interesting to see the different ways that flowers set out to attract customers.

There are some very colourful aquilegias against the back wall of the house.


AKA Granny’s Bonnet or Columbine

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to be Front-of-House at the Buccleuch Centre for a very peppy jazz concert from the Scottish Youth Jazz Orchestra while I went to a Langholm Sings choir practice.  We both enjoyed ourselves.

It was a very cheerful day for one that had little or no actual sunshine in it.

The flower of the day is a tulip which is not showing any signs of being a shrinking violet.



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Today’s guest picture is one from a holiday that Mike Tinker took last year.  It shows a handsome bridge in Rhayader, Mid Wales.

Rhayader Mid Wales

I had requested a better day after our recent dreich spell and my plea was heard and we enjoyed a beautifully sunny day today.  As an added and unexpected bonus, the temperature was well above freezing from the very start and had I been better organised, I could have been out and about straight after breakfast.

However, at the moment I am not sleeping as well as I would like and it is taking me quite a bit of time to get up to speed in the mornings. I needed a cup of coffee and a roll and honey before I could even contemplate starting.

There were hardly any birds to distract me and the strong light made the re-appearance of Zorro the Chaffinch the high or perhaps the lowlight of the morning.

Zorro the Chaffinch

I had a wander round the garden,  A crocus has appeared, snowdrops are actually coming properly out and the rhubarb is more fantastic than ever.

rhubarb, snowdrop and crocus

I did finally get going, armed with two bananas and a tuna roll with a side supply of apricots and dates.  The view at Wauchope School was a lot more inviting than the last time that I came up the road…

Wauchope School

…and I headed out into the country with a light heart.  Fairly heavy legs but a light heart.

I was headed west and once you get out of our local hills, the land turns to gently rolling fields…

Middlebie road

Looking back towards Waterbeck

I went through Middlebie and Ecclefechan and headed for Hoddom Castle.  The road towards the Castle is flat and straight and I found myself pedalling head on into a noticeable wind.  This was a bit of a trial so I tried the Donald J Trump method and declared loudly to anyone who might be able to hear me, “I am not pedalling into a headwind.  The wind is behind.  It’s fine.”

Strangely, it didn’t work.  Obviously the alternative truth is not all that it is cracked up to be.

I did get within sight of the castle in the end…

Hoodom Castle

…and  stopped on the bridge over the River Annan to enjoy the view.

View from the bridge at Hoddom

I crossed the bridge and cycled on towards the next crossing of the river at Brydekirk.  The powers that be have put a lot of thought into the naming of streets and buildings in the village.


This is the cause of all this naming.

Brydekirk Bridge

I crossed the bridge when I came to it and had a banana and half a roll on the other side.  I was right beside a fine ivy plant.


And as you know, I am a sucker for a nice piece of moss on a bridge parapet.

moss at Brydekirk

By this time, I had turned enough to have the wind now across or behind me for the rest of the journey but this didn’t seem to speed my legs up very much.

From the top of the hill looking towards Eaglesfield after I left Brydekirk, I could see a fine crop of windmills, half at the old established windfarm at Minsca…


…and the other half randomly scattered across the country at the new Ewe Hill wind farm.

Ewe Hill farm

I think there are still a few more to be added to this lot.

I cycled down to Gretna on back roads, hoping to see some of our migrating geese in the fields but on this occasion, all my geese were swans…


…and there wasn’t a goose to be seen.

On my way to Gretna, I passed these trees…


…whihc would be very helpful to the confused traveller as they clearly show the direction of the prevailing wind.  South west.

When I got to Gretna, I had thought of going back across country and clocking up fifty miles but time began to press on me a bit thanks to my late start and my legs weren’t exactly over enthusiastic about any more unnecessary hills so I headed back up the main road, taking the quieter bike route through Canonbie…

Canonbie Church

It was a golden winter afternoon

…and limiting my ride to 47 miles.

It did give me the opportunity to admire a set of fisherman’s steps leading to the river at Broomholm…

fishermans steps Broomholm

…and the extensive scaffolding now in place at Skippers Bridge.

skippers bridge scaffolding

They have taken it through the arch and round the other side where the damage is.

skippers bridge scaffolding

I had a cheerful chat to two of the engineers supervising the task and asked them to take care of our bridge and make sure not to knock it down.  They assured me that they would take care.  Indeed, one engineer, a charming lady, told me that they really liked and admired  the bridge.  This was good to hear.

I got home and had a cup of tea and a biscuit with Mike Tinker who had dropped in and then after a good soak in the bath and a light curry for my tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to the Buccleuch Centre to watch a Woody Allen film, ‘Café Society’.

It went at a gentle pace, was well acted, beautifully set and costumed and had some (not a lot) of good jokes.  The great man obviously couldn’t work out how to finish the film so he didn’t bother and just let it drift away but it was none the worse for that and I enjoyed it a lot.

My favourite joke went something like this:

A pedantic and rather upset character say, “Socrates says the unexamined life is not worth living,”  and after a slight pause adds, “The examined life is not up to much either.”

As it was our 49th wedding anniversary yesterday, this was our anniversary treat.  We might do something a bit more flashy next year if spared.

The camera may not lie but it does often conceal quite a lot from the casual viewer.  Zorro the Chaffinch seen earlier in this post came straight from the camera.  Photoshop reveals that the camera knows who the masked intruder really is.

flying chaffinch

Herbert the Chaffinch unmasked

Details of the cycle ride may be found by clicking on the map below.



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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone, who met this fine swan on one of his recent golfing adventures.


We had a beautifully sunny day today but paid for it with a drop of a few degrees on the thermometer.  It was above freezing but decidedly chilly when I cycled up to the town to see if I had left my mobile phone in the tourist office yesterday.  Greatly to my relief, I found it neatly tucked away in a draw there.  Once I had it back in my pocket, I returned home and began thinking about a cycle ride to celebrate the first day of November.

Unlike the get up and go of the past couple of days, I had to make quite an effort to get going today.  I was hoping for the temperature to rise a bit before I set off so I put in some time by cleaning my chain and then put in some more by having a cup of coffee.  In the end though, there was nothing for it but to go cycling so off I went.

There was no doubt that it was beautiful day…


…but a light north wind made me grateful for every layer of clothing that I had on.

I stopped a few times to take pictures as I went across country towards the River Annan but I only used this one.

road from Ecclefechan

This natural arch was on the road from Ecclefechan to Hoddom

Whenever I crossed a river, I tried to get a reflection.  This one in the River Annan is from Hoddom Bridge.

River Annan at Hoddom

And this is the wooded slope above the river.


If I had stopped to take a picture of every good view, I would never have got home.

I stopped on the bridge at Annan to have a snack but couldn’t find a reflection worth showing and I was heading on towards Canonbie from Kirkpatrick Fleming when a flash of colour in the verge caught my eye.  I was past it before I realised what it was and although I don’t usually turn the bike round and go back to take a picture, I did on this occasion.


A good crop of fungus


A very autumnal picture

The two blokes sitting in the cab of a lorry in a lay-by just down the road must have wondered what I was doing.

I took the same road from Canonbie to Hollows that Mrs Tootlepedal and I had walked along yesterday but I (just) resisted the temptation to take all the same shots again as I went along.  It did give a me a very good view up the Esk valley just before I dropped down to the Hollows.

Esk valley from Hollows

And it also gave me the chance to take an autumnal shot of Hollows Tower as I passed.

Hollows Tower in autumn

I had a final go at a reflection when I crossed Skippers Bridge just before getting home.

Esk at Skippers

I had covered 44 miles by the time that I got back.  My speed was very modest because if you are trying too hard, you tend to miss the best views and you also get reluctant to spoil your momentum by stopping all the time.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy day getting manure and spreading it about in the garden as well as shifting a buddleia and generally continuing to tidy things up for the winter.

I filled up the feeder…


…and had a cup of tea.

We were both feeling that we had done quite a bit already during the day but it was such a lovely afternoon that we went out on our bikes for a very short run to the Kilngreen and the Castleholm and then back over the Jubilee Bridge.  It was well worth the effort.

We paused for a moment on the Kilngreen so that I could watch a goosander in the river….


…and the gulls flying past…

black headed gulls

…and then we cycled up the Lodge Walks.

Lodge walks

Mrs Tootlepedal was very interested to see the trees that had been felled for safety reasons.  The beech tree stumps were still surrounded by fungi…


…and there were all sorts of interesting things on bits of one of the hollow conifers.

fungus and mold

Having cycled up the Lodge Walks as far as the Lodge, we turned and cycled back down.

Lodge walks

It was just as pretty in either direction.

When we crossed the Jubilee Bridge, we were in the shade for a while and it began to feel very much like November.

Back in the garden, I finished picking the Charles Ross apples.  This was just in time because the birds have discovered them and two or three had been  pecked so thoroughly that I left them there for the birds to enjoy the rest.  I searched for the last few raspberries and enjoyed some of them more than others as the flavour was very variable.

We are promised a cold night tonight and we were expecting a frost but I see that the latest forecast only goes as low as 3°C so we may escape.  Just in case though, I went round the garden taking pictures of some of our floral survivors.

poppies and dahlias

The poppies and dahlias have been brilliant this year.

nasturtium and fuchsia

The nasturtiums against the house wall may well survive but the fuchsia is more delicate.

The fuchsia is going to be moved anyway but it has given us its best display ever so we can only hope that it will like its new spot next year.

Although there is some rain coming on Thursday and Friday, the forecast is showing a lot of sunshine over the next week or so and this autumn must be going to be one of the kindest that we have had for many years.

The flower of the day is a lone knapweed, flowering long after its due date….


…and the flying bird of the day is a black headed gull, shining in the afternoon sun.

black headed gull

For those interested in that sort of thing, details of my ride today can be found by clicking on the map below.




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Today’s guest picture comes from America and was sent to me by Barbara, who was one of three family members who came to Langholm last month on a dreadfully wet day to look for the gravestones of two ancestors.  We met at the Archive Centre.

Archive Centre

The weather here was a good deal better than that today and in spite of a brisk wind, it seemed too good a chance to miss so after breakfast (and with the minimum amount of time wasting), I got the fairly speedy bike out  and went for a pedal.

There has been any amount of loose gravel put on the back roads in our area recently so it was quite hard to find a route which didn’t involve pedalling through some of it.  In the end, I chose the nearest section and pedalled slowly for the first mile and half out of town until I was clear of it.

It was quite chilly when I set out but the weather cheered up as I went along and the wind kindly blew me home so I have had far worse rides than this.

I stopped just before Lockerbie to take a picture which sums up the country along the Lockerbie road for me….hilly but scenic.

Lockerbie road

The clouds were beginning to break up and shortly after leaving Lockerbie on the Dalton road, the sun came out.  I was in the rolling green country of Annandale by this time.

Dalton road

There are wide open views on every side.


A pheasant in the foreground and Burnswark Hill on the skyline.

I crossed the River Annan twice and it was obvious that it had rained more in the west last night than it had in Langholm as the river level was quite high and the water quite brown.

River Annan

I would have crossed it by this bridge at Hoddom but the road to Ecclefechan was another victim of the dreaded gravellers so I turned back, crossed the river at Brydekirk and went home by way of Eaglesfield and Gretna.

I stopped at the Old Toll House at Gretna for a plate of their excellent egg and chips and thus fuelled up, and with the brisk breeze solidly behind me, I cruised home up the main road.

Those interested in learning more about the route can click on the map.

Garmin 20 May 16

This was the first lengthy ride of the month and I would have been happy to extend it a bit but I didn’t want to get myself too tired with a concert coming up in the evening.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I arrived and I had a walk round before I went off for a bath.

Following my daughter’s request, I avoided taking close ups of individual flowers today and have tried to show a bit of context.  We need a good week or two before things get a bit more colourful though.  Almost all the ‘bulby’ plants have gone now, snowdrops, daffodils, bluebells, grape hyacinths and tulips and we are waiting for alliums, azaleas, hostas, astrantias, rhododendrons and geraniums and others too numerous to name.


The two beds of newly planted tulips beside the front door are still going strong


Our tiny pond (with a wooden heron keeping guard)

Azalea corner

The azaleas in this corner were badly affected by a late frost


This bush survived and will look great fairly soon.

Back path

The back path

There are some nice patches of foliage meanwhile.

middle lawn border

The vegetables and fruit are lurking behind the metal fence.

Apart from the tulips at the front door, there are two clumps left which have starred as individuals on these pages before.

yellow tulips

pink tulips

The lawn is in terrible condition but I am working on it.

We had a full day and after tea we went off to Newcastleton to sing in a concert in the church there with our Langholm choir.

The church at Newcastleton is well lit and warm and it makes a good venue for a concert.  In addition they have an excellent keyboard which we used.

Illness led to one or two absences both from the choir and from our intended visiting  soloists.  On top of that, our regular pianist was unavailable so that our conductor was playing and conducting simultaneously for some numbers.  We had several unaccompanied songs which helped though and we sang three more to a pre-recorded accompaniment which our pianist had prepared earlier. We hadn’t been able to practise these though.

Under these circumstances, disaster would not have been too surprising but, all in all, things went very well and the the tenors even hit the right opening note in the unaccompanied madrigal, much to everyone’s astonishment.

The audience  (more people in the audience than in the choir) responded very warmly to our efforts, the soloists gave of their best and the varied programme suited the occasion very well so we all went off happily looking forward to doing the whole thing again next Wednesday in a different church in a different country.

In the absence of any flying birds, my friend Bruce sent me this picture of two sparrows at his patriotic nesting box, dad on the roof and mum keeping an eye out.




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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  After a break to recover from illness, he is back walking in the Peak District and this picture shows the Manifold river at Ilam.

Manifold at Ilam

The forecast offered a grey, windy and dry day and was correct in every respect.  The dryness was the chief attraction for  me and I set off after breakfast to put a few miles in on the fairly speedy bike.

Although the temperature was a mellow 6°C, the wind was from the north and was of the nipping and eager variety so there was not a lot of comfort about. I left my route choice and distance to be decided by my legs as I went along and they must have felt quite good about life at the start because they found a few miles of roads that I had never cycled along before to add interest to my trip.

This involved going up a stiff climb but there were excellent views as a compensation.  The greyness of the day meant that I can’t share them with you though.  I was cycling towards a hilltop that has been used for thousands of years as a fortified point…


A very rare beam of sunshine!

…but as I got near to it, the tarmac ran out and a dirt track and gloomy woods appeared…


…and I thought better of going on and turned back to sweep down the hill through Ecclefechan and onward to the banks of the river Annan near Hoddom.

River Annan

On my way I passed under the ugliest bridge in the district…

Ecclefechan railway bridge

…and it was hard to believe that the main line railway between London and Glasgow runs over it.

I wandered about in all directions and my legs finally settled for a straightish run home from Eaglesfield, realising that that the last 15 miles or so would be mostly into the wind.  They were right not to have gone further afield as the final few miles back home were very hard work.  Even going downhill required vigorous pedalling.  I was pleased to have done 45 miles and 2500ft of climbing but I definitely felt that I had been out cycling.

Those interested may find more details of the ride  by clicking on the map below.  (The temperature that Garmin gives was lower than the reality and the wind was far stronger than it claims.)

garmin 9 March 2016

After I had looked out of the kitchen window…

brambling and chaffinch

A brambling and chaffinch for comparison

…had a shower and done the crossword (I was waiting for Scottish Power to ring but they didn’t), the sun came out so I picked up a camera or two and went for my favourite short walk.

The grey clouds were well in retreat over the top of Whita and it was a lovely day.

George Street

Mr Grumpy was standing on a stony bank in the river with the sun dappled waters behind him.


On a sunny evening, this walk is hard to beat.  There are views….

Meeting of the waters

…ruined castles…

Langholm Castle

…handsome trees….

Castleholm pine

….more views…


…and of course ducks….


Light is a funny thing. This duck’s head is green usually.

duck landing

I often wonder whether ducks go “Wheeee!” when they splash down like this.

…mossy walls….

mossy wall

…and today’s special, an oyster catcher flying up the Esk.

oyster catcher

(The riverside dwellers were complaining at the camera club meeting on Monday about the raucous cries of these birds in the middle of the night.)

I had the added bonus of a cup of coffee and a tasty chocolate biscuit when I called in at the Tinker’s on my way home.

After a tea of nourishing fish cakes, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to sing with our local choir, Langholm Sings.  The tenors had an exciting time, sometimes hitting the note and sometimes choosing avant garde alternatives not in the score.

In  my defence, I was a bit tired for some reason.

The flying bird of the day is two high flying mallards. Not a great picture but a definite novelty in the FBotD stakes.

two flying ducks

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