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Posts Tagged ‘River Esk’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Sheffield correspondent, Edward.  He and his wife went to Singapore for the FI Grand Prix and stopped off at Phuket in Thailand where he was very impressed by the wiring.

Wiring in Southern Phuket

I footered away a fine morning, firstly through a failure of communication with Dropscone about the availability of scones and secondly through indolence when the scones turned out to be a mirage.

I didn’t really do anything…

….though I must have gone out into the garden fro at least a moment or two as I did some shredding of fallen sunflowers and noticed a butterfly on the bench…

red admiral butterfly on bench

…and a bee on a lamium.

bee visiting lamium

They were obviously tucked up snugly during yesterday’s gales.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to visit Matilda in Edinburgh, catching the first train to run from Manchester to Edinburgh after the line had been cleared of fallen trees.

I watched the birds.

A blackbird boogied on the lawn….

blackbird dancing on lawn

…a chaffinch put a hex on a goldfinch…

chaffinch putting the hex on goldfinch

…a male chaffinch told a female where the really good berries are….

chaffinch showing the way

…while a determined goldfinch practised its breaststroke…

Goldfinch swimming to the feeder

…and a sparrow kept an eye out for new arrivals.

sparrow checking out a chaffinch

From time to time a jackdaw dropped in to supervise.

jackdaw swing on the fat balls

I had an appointment with the dentist as I had carelessly bashed one of my teeth and I needed to know if I had broken it.  He took an x-ray and reassured me that it was sound.  However, if it is still sore after a few days, it might have to come out so I am hoping for the best and eating very soft food.

On my way to the dentist, I saw many bunches of bright red berries….

red berries by river

…and on my way back, I looked at the foliage that I had seen stuck under the town bridge yesterday.  It turned out to be quite a substantial tree, with its head on one side of the bridge….

tree under bridge top

…and its foot caught on the cutwater on the other side.

tree under bridge bottom

On the bank of the river beside the bridge, I was amused by this little family group of fungi with mother sheltering her two affectionate children.

riverside fungus group

I looked at the forecast when I got home and as it said, ‘rain later’, I decided to go cycling ‘now’.

It started to rain just as I got onto my bike.

However, the rain was very light so I decided to chance it and go anyway.  The rain stayed light as I cycled to the top of Callister and back (13 miles) and faded away as I got back to the town so I pedalled on over the river and went a few miles up the main road. This let me get to the magic twenty miles which is the minimum trip I like to do when I have gone to the trouble of getting the bike out.

After several very windy bike rides this month, it was a treat to find that the wind had dropped entirely and in spite of the light rain, cycling was a real pleasure.

The country is getting browner every day…

brown bracken

…so I looked for a bit of colour in the garden when I got back.  A lot of flowers got blown over yesterday but the verbascum just bent with the breeze rather than breaking…

verbascum leaning

…but the tall cosmos, which should be standing up and looking over the front lawn, is now leaning perilously low over the pond.

cosmos drooping

The Japanese anemone is small and tough enough to have survived quite well.

Tired Japanese anemone

After a nourishing meal of fish cakes, I was picked up by Susan, who was driving her very smart new red car, and driven to Carlisle where we played with our recorder group for the first time for a couple of months.  Roy, our librarian, had picked out a fine selection of music for our delight so we had a very good evening.

It was pouring with rain as we drove home.

I was pleased to find that Mrs Tootlepedal had got home safely in spite of her train being delayed a bit on both the up and down trips.  She had had a good time in Edinburgh.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch yet again.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Andy Little, one of our camera club members.  He very kindly sent me this picture of an unusual bird which he saw when visiting New Lanark.

New lanark perching bird

I had a steadily busy but not frantic day today.  Encouraged by Mrs Tootlepedal, I got up reasonably early and went out for a bike ride after breakfast without even pausing to look round the garden.

The reason for the snappy start was a dire forecast of wind and rain to come later in the day.  Anxious not to be caught out, I pedalled the whole way round my 20 mile Canonbie circuit without stopping at all, most unusual for me.  As a result there are no pictures but I made up for this by looking round the garden when I got home.

The butterflies have slowed down a bit and I was able to take a few close up shots.

butterfly head

It may not be the bee’s knees but it definitely is the butterfly’s proboscis.

butterfly head 2

There was a lot of nectar quaffing going on.

white butterfly on daisy

This shot does include the bee’s knees.

bee on cosmos

The newly sprung up nerines are looking better every day…

nerine flowering

…and the Michaelmas daisies are set to take over the world.

michaelmas daisies

It is berry time and the birds have eaten almost all our rowan berries without letting me catch them in the act.  This is most unfair.

Other berries are available…

snowberry and raspberry

…some more edible than others.

Then I took some postcards and photo cards up to our local newsagent, who sells them and makes a contribution to the Archive Group in return, and pedalled back home for lunch.

I kept an eye on the birds while I was in the kitchen and was pleased to see a coal tit in motion…

flying coal tit

…and at rest.

coal tit on feeder

The seeds are too big for them to eat on the feeder so they flit about in a restless way between the feeder and the plum tree behind.

After lunch, since the forecast rain and wind had not yet made an appearance, Sandy arrived and we drove down to Canonbie for as much of a walk as we could get in before the weather broke.

We parked at the church and walked along the river bank below it….

Canonbie church

…looking out for hints of autumn…

Esk at canonbie

..and noticing the scar in the red sandstone cliff where there has been a rockfall.

In the foreground you can see a fisherman moving along the river to try his luck.

Sandstone cliff at Canonbie

His chances may be affected by the number of other fisherfolk around.

family of goosanders at canonbie

Goosanders like eating fish a lot.

Looking across the river, I could see the hedge that marks the road along which I had pedalled  earlier in the day.  The bank behind is covered with the seed heads of rosebay willowherb.

Old A7 banking

We walked south along the river following a local signposted walk…

Esk below canonbie

…stopping to look at wild flowers on out way….

wild flowers beside esk

…and got as far as this little wood before the rain started to come down seriously enough to make us head back to the car.

riversie walk canonbie

We didn’t get a soaking but we got wet enough to persuade us not to dally taking pictures….except this one….

autumn colour

…and drove home to have a cup of tea.

We were joined by Mike Tinker, who has been enjoying having the company of both of his children and their spouses and all four of his grandchildren in recent days and thus was extremely happy but also in need of a quiet sit down and some refreshment.

In the evening, more rain and some gusty wind arrived in perfect time to welcome Luke for his flute lesson.  It always seems to rain on Monday when he comes.  As he was playing better than me today, I had no complaints.

In the evening, I went off with Sandy to the first Camera Club meeting of the season and with the attendance in double figures (11) and an excellent range of photos  for the members to enjoy, the meeting was very satisfactory.  There were biscuits too.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow getting an unfriendly welcome from a siskin.

flying chaffinch (2)

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone and reveals that the path in yesterday’s guest picture did indeed lead to a lighthouse, though the lighthouse is rather unusual.  It is opposite the port of Port Ellen next to Carraig Fhada at Kilnaughton Bay. The lighthouse was commissioned in 1832 by Walter Frederick Campbell in memory of Lady Eleanor Campbell. This is a very characteristic lighthouse with two square towers connected to each other.  It is a working lighthouse.

Islay lighthouse

Both Mrs Tootlepedal and I had a lie in today so things started slowly and it was very hard to distinguish between breakfast and morning coffee.

It was a cool day but dry and with not anything like as much wind as we have been having recently so I eventually got my bike out and set off to see how far my legs would carry me.  I was feeling pretty creaky at the outset but once again the good Dr Velo provided if not a complete cure, at least some relief from creakiness and my legs took for me for an enjoyable 30 miles.  I might have gone a bit further but I had no food with me and I had told Mrs Tootlepedal that I was going to do 20 miles so 30 miles seemed sensible.

The farmers have managed to get a second cut of silage in and my route was dotted with green fields where the sheep were grazing and pale fields where the grass had gone.

fields near gair

I kept my nose to the wheel for the most part and didn’t stop to take pictures, except for one of the river at Irvine House with just one hint of autumn among the trees.

Irvine House

There was a bigger hint a few hundred yards further along the road.

autumn bracken

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden chatting to our neighbour Liz. Liz was taking a break from hard work in her own garden but it wasn’t long before both the gardeners were back at work.  I had a sandwich and then came out to do some dead heading and supervising.

We have got some late orange hawkweed to keep things looking bright.

orange hawkweed

And if you think that this dahlia looks a little crowded with insects…

insects on dahlia

…what about this dandelion?

insects on dandelion

I went in for a cup of tea and then there was a smir of rain which brought Mrs Tootlepedal in too.

The rain didn’t last long and the afternoon brightened up again so Mrs Tootlepedal went back out to the garden and I went for a short walk.

The park wall showed that moss is getting back into its stride after the dry spell in the summer.

park wall moss

..with some spleenwort too.

There was lichen and a flower on the wall…

park wall lichen and flower

…and sloes and fungus beside the path as I walked up past the Stubholm…

sloe and fungus

…where I found that there was indeed light at the end of the tunnel.

Stubholm track

Gaskell’s walk had a lot to look at as I went along.

seed head

There were rosebay willowherb seed heads in abundace.

fireweed seed

…and a lot more fungus…

gaskell's fungi

…although one patch turned out to be fallen leaves.

The small lichen garden on the fence post at the Auld Stane Brig was still flourishing

Auls stane brig lichen

It has been there for years.

On the other side of the bridge, two cows did formation grazing.

two cows eating

The road back to town was colourful in places….

wildflowers by the road

…and there was another hint of autumn when I looked back over the graveyard to the woods that I had just walked through on the far side of the Wauchope Water..

A hint of autumn

At Pool Corner, the slow worms, both old and young, were still above ground (but under a sheltering piece of roofing felt).

slow worms

My walk was noted by interested spectators.

cows and sheep

Between the late start, the cycling and the walking, I didn’t have much time for looking at birds but in spite of that I did recognise how lucky we are to have a good variety of bird visitors.  Today we had starlings, blackbirds, blue tits, coal tits, sparrows, goldfinches, chaffinches, greenfinches, siskins, jackdaws, pigeons and collared doves.

You will have to take my word for that though as the only pictures I have is of the flying bird of the day, a chaffinch, going to join a goldfinch, sparrow and greenfinch on the feeder.

busy feeder

Looking at the picture, I notice that the chaffinch looks a little upset and this may have been because the perch that the chaffinch was hoping to land on has become unscrewed.  I will have to look for it tomorrow.

Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge shows 6 cm of rain for the week or just about 2¼ inches, almost all of which came in one night early in the week so our weather has been better than expected.

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Sharon’s visit to Berlin.

20180907_181837

In spite of the gloomy forecast at the beginning of the week, we had another dry day here today with a decent amount of sunshine.  Unfortunately the wind continued to blow vigorously so it took me quite a long time to get up the energy to go out on my bike.

I had several good wheezes to distract me before I got going and of course, I always have to have a look at the garden first.

I am very attached to the papery poppies that have come out of the seed packet this year.

P1140268

They have a subdued elegance.

And in spite of the brisk breeze, there were butterflies everywhere in the garden today.

P1140273

Indeed, you had to look sharp to avoid being knocked over by them as they flitted from flower to flower.

I did get going in the end and found it a hard battle.  I was pleased to stop to admire a small clump of traditional toadstools…

P1140276

…and in an effort to get some gender balance into the blog, I refrained from taking any more outstanding cows and took two sitting bulls instead.

P1140278

Near the end of the ride (my usual 20 mile Canonbie circle), I parked the bike behind a fence and walked down through the woods…

P1140279

…to get a view of the river Esk near Broonholm.

P1140281

I thought that I might see a lot of fungus under the trees but this little clump was the only fungus that I saw.

P1140286

I managed to make it home and found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work on the computer.

It was fine enough for Mrs Tootlepedal to take her lunch out to the new bench and I joined her later on.  Out of the wind and sensibly clothed, it was a good day to test the bench.

The afternoon was given over to gardening.  I was in poetic form:

 There was mowing, dead heading
And sieving and shredding.

Mrs Tootlepedal is still in full Attila the Gardener mode so there was plenty of shredding to do.  The good summer has speeded up the compost process and there are now two big buckets of sieved compost waiting to find a home.

While we were sitting on the bench having our lunch, I noticed that a second flowering of a polemonium has come out to join the late flowering delphinium.

_DSC7062

As they are in the same bed as the reliable golden wedding rose and the perennial wallflower…

_DSC7064

…there was no shortage of colour in that corner of the garden.

I noticed a young blackbird sitting quietly on the fence and went in to get a camera.  I was surprised to find it still there when I came out.

_DSC7059

Then Mike Tinker came to bring Mrs Tootlepedal a gift of some liquid worm compost from his wormery as it  produces more than he needs for his own garden.  He joined us for a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit and his visit was well timed as it began to rain lightly just at that moment.

I took a picture of a leycesteria before I went in.

P1140287

Although the rain stopped, we didn’t go back out to the garden when Mike left as I had to have an early evening meal because it was the first meeting of Langholm Sings, our Community Choir in the evening.

I did find time to take a few bird pictures though.

I like the shiny black feet that jackdaws have.

_DSC7072

This goldfinch has been very badly painted!

_DSC7054

I hope it gets some better feathers before the cold weather arrives.

Not all of our bird visitors are smart.  A sparrow had bitten more off a fat ball than it could chew and a coal tit was parked on a perch with no seed.

_DSC7076

The first meeting of the choir was well attended with a couple of new members and Mary, our director had brought some new music for us to tackle.  Two of the pieces were good to sing and quite easy but the third piece looks as though it will keep us busy for some time.  This seems like a good balance and I thoroughly enjoyed the singing, especially as my voice lasted reasonably well.

The flying bird of the day is another of the chaffinches which fly up to the feeder and conveniently hover for a moment before landing just so that I can snap them.

_DSC7074

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce and shows his dog, Guthrie considering the pros and cons of a quick swim in the leisure pool  on the Castleholm.

Guthrie

The changeable weather came as forecast but luckily for us, all the rain came during the hours of darkness and the day was dry and even occasionally sunny.  There was a lot of rain in the night though and when I crossed the river after breakfast, I could see the result.

Esk in spate

I was on my way to the doctor to find out about my iron levels.  They are fine and I am now certified as fully attractive to any passing magnet.

On my way across the river, I noticed an old friend so I pedalled back to the house to get a camera and came back in the hope that he would still be there.  He was there….

heron

….tucked away in a sheltered spot in the lee of the Kirk Bridge while the river roared past.

Some vigorous bird calls made me look about and I saw a pair of very active grey wagtails, one of whom stopped still long enough for me to take a picture.

grey wgtail

When I got back to the garden, there was a pair of active blue tits there on the fat balls.

two bluetits on fat balls

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy painting a door in the kitchen and when she had finished, we had coffee.  After coffee, I applied myself to the crossword and then, when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre, I applied myself to lawn care.

I mowed both the front lawn and the greenhouse grass which were remarkably firm and dry after the night’s rain.  A brisk wind and some sun had helped.

In order to get a breather from the mowing, I broke off from time to time to look around.

In spite of the strong wind, the garden was full of butterflies again…

tortoiseshell, red admiral and peacock butterflies

…and there were bees and other insects everywhere.

bees on daisies

We have had quite a good selection of bumble bees this year as well as lots of honey bees.

three bees on flowers

This was my favourite moment.

big and little insects

One of the astrantias has come again but oddly for such a bee magnet, it was bee free today.

late astrantia

I did a little bird watching too.

Sparrows and blue tits took turns on the fat balls.

sparrow coming blue tit going

A siskin had its feathers ruffled by the breeze.

blowy siskin

And a coal tit dropped in a couple of times but was rather camera shy.

coal tit

After lunch, I decided that I should brave the wind and go for a pedal as the weather looked set fair.

Once out of the shelter of the town, it was very breezy, with gusts of up to 30 mph so I settled for a ride to the top of Callister and back followed by another turn up the Wauchope valley as far as the schoolhouse and this gave me 20 miles, quite far enough for my legs.

There is no doubt that the hills are beginning to turn brown…

Wauchope road brown view

..but the overnight rain had made my favourite cascade quite dramatic and worth a scramble down the banking to see it in action.

Wauchope cascade Sept 2018

The level in the Esk had dropped though and a gull could stand on a rock by the water’s edge without risk of being swept away.

gull beside river

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy afternoon and arrived home after me and we spent a little time in the garden.

Second flowerings are to be seen on all sides.

second delphinium

Delphinium

second vebascum

Verbascum

And the golden wedding rose keeps producing new flowers.

golden wedding roses Sept 18

We are still dead heading in an effort to keep things going but it can’t be denied that the flowers are gradually fading away.

The plums are over but we are awash with apples and the raspberries are ripening steadily so we are not starved of fruit just yet.

Mrs Tootlepedal made an interesting one pot evening meal which involved almond milk, cauliflower and linguine.    It was very much to my liking though Mrs Tootlepedal thought that she could take it or leave it alone.

After previous predictions of gloom and doom, the forecast is now for another dry but windy day tomorrow.  It is difficult to plan when things change so frequently.

Under the circumstances, I thought it only proper to have two flying birds of the day today, one in the sunshine…

flying chaffinch in sunshine

….and one on the shade.

flying chaffinch in shadow

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce.  He was impressed by the size of this nail brush.  Its owner must have very big hands.

Bruce's big brush

I was awoken by a loud cry from Mrs Tootlepedal.  “There’s a partridge in the garden,” she said.  I had hoped that by the time  that I had got organised with a camera, the partridge would have flown up into our pear tree, which would have been a great gift.  No such luck though as the partridge had walked out of the front gate and down the road.

partridge

It will do well to stick around in the town and take the risk of being run over.  It it goes back out into the country, it is likely to get shot.

The forecast had been for another cloudy day but we were lucky and the clouds had passed over us and gone on their way and it was sunny all day.

The elder tree feeder lived up to its promise this morning and attracted interesting small birds to the garden.

great tit and robin

A great tit and the first robin for some weeks.

It was a little chilly after breakfast so I took my time getting ready to pedal and made some apple jelly after breakfast.  Sadly, I might have rushed the job a bit and although the result tastes quite nice, it hasn’t set properly and may need reboiling.

Then, even when I had pumped up the tyres and filled my water bottle, I took more time to admire the poppies…

thre poppies

…and salute the butterflies on the buddleia.

three butterflies

Small tortoiseshell, peacock and red admiral

The wind was coming from the north east so instead of heading south as usual and then having to face the wind coming home, I headed north out of the town.

The trouble with starting in this direction is that there is a steep hill almost as soon as you leave the town.  I am not supposed to cycle up steep hills with my tin knee but I adopted a very low gear and eased up the hill so gently that my knee did’t even notice.

Peden's View

Looking back from the top of the hill.

It was a good day for a pedal as the wind was light and even when it was in my face, it didn’t make me cry.  The hills were looking good with bracken and grasses making a patchwork of greens and browns.

Criag hills

I had to stop to take my favourite view, The Gates of Eden.  It really was that green today.

Gates of Eden

I was cycling up the Esk towards its source and this is the peaceful view of the valley at Bentpath.

esk at bentpath

You can see that the farmers have been busy getting silage cut and bagged.

The Black Esk and the White Esk join forces about ten miles north of Langholm and this is the bridge over the Black Esk just before the junction.

 

Black esk bridge Tanlawhill

I crossed the bridge and followed the White Esk for the rest of my outward journey, stopping in this delightful wood beside the King Pool for my first snack of the day.

King Pool wood

The valley of the White Esk is a perfect example of the ‘sunlit uplands’ on a day like today…

Upper esk valley panoramaIt may not be so welcoming in the winter though.

I pedalled past the Samye Ling Tibetan Monastery without taking a picture (which took a lot of restraint) but was stopped in my tracks a little further on by a beautiful rose and some impressive hips in a bush beside a bridge.

rwild rose and hips

The bridge looked interesting so I followed a steep path down to the river and was most alarmed when I heard an almighty splash as I got near to the water.  What had fallen in, I wondered.

It turned out that nothing had fallen in, but a large family of goosanders had been disturbed by my arrival and had taken off from under the bridge in a great hurry.  I caught a glimpse of them as they disappeared downstream.

flying goodsanders

Not a great picture but it was just to record that ten or eleven goosanders taking flight can sound like a boulder falling into a river.

The bridge itself was worth a look.

Eskdalemuir birdge

Although it looked like a traditional stone bridge, the arch had been strengthened by concrete.  This was doubtless to withstand the battering it gets from the many timber wagons which roll over it.  I am not entirely sure but I think the stream is Garwaldwater.

I pushed on, climbing gently but steadily until I could see the start of the White Esk where the Glendearg Burn comes down from the hills to join another little stream and turns in to the Esk.

Upper Esk

When I got to my turning point, the regional  boundary between Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders….

County boundary

…I could hardly recognise it as the timber farmers had been hard at work here and cut down all the trees that used to mark the border.  It looks rather nondescript now.

Nevertheless at 1100 feet above sea level, it seemed like a good spot to rest and munch an egg roll before rolling down the 22 miles back to Langholm.  I say ‘rolling back’ but in spite of losing 850 feet overall, there is a never ending amount of undulation on the way so it was still hard work.  As the route back was exactly the same as the route out, I have not illustrated it.

I was extremely pleased to find that my knee stood up well to this hilly ride and might try to do some more adventurous rides if time and weather permit.

When I got home, I mowed the middle and front lawns.

When i say that I mowed them, of course it was the wonderful Webb Witch which did the work…

Lawn mower

…I just walked along behind it saying encouraging things.  They don’t seem to sell push mowers like this any more.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy sowing some field beans for green manure in the now empty potato bed and we took time out to watch the many flights of bees and butterflies on the buddleia and Michaelmas daisies.  I actually saw a bee push a small tortoiseshell off a daisy flower.   The butterfly came back sharply and knocked the bee off in turn.

The same three varieties that I had seen in the morning were still about ….

P1130964

…but they were joined by a couple of beautiful painted ladies in the afternoon.

painted lady butterfly

One posed for me on a daisy.

The garden was full of insects.

insects in garden

I finished my camera tour with an Icelandic poppy.

icelnadic poppy

Then we uprooted the gooseberry bush as part of the vegetable garden remodelling.  We are going to try to do a little work on this scheme every day that the weather allows so that the work doesn’t overwhelm us.

We were spoiled in the evening with the highlights of both the Tour of Spain and the Tour of Britain bicycle races to watch.

The flying bird of the day is another sparrow.  Birds do keep their heads still when they are flying.

flying sparrow

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another of Tony’s seals among the seaweed.  That looks like an eider duck in the background.

another tony seal

Apology: There are far too many pictures in today’s post.  If you like garden pictures of flowers, birds, bees and butterflies scroll rapidly through to the end and if you like views start at the beginning and miss the finish.   For some inexplicable reason I was a bit tired when it came to sorting the photos out and I couldn’t summon up the energy to throw many away.

After another rainy night (2cms), the morning was grey but dry and importantly from my point of view, the wind was a great deal calmer than of late.

The church choir is still on holiday and I am resting my rather ragged voice so while Mrs Tootlepedal cycled off to sing, I got my bike out.  The forecast rather improbably suggested that if I set off cycling north, I would find the wind behind me but by the time that I had got to Hawick, 23 miles away, it would have come round and would blow me back south again.

I set off northwards with hope in my heart but a considerable degree of scepticism in my mind.

The ride started well with a view of a large family of goosanders just above the Langholm Bridge.

goosander family

The wind did indeed help me up the hill to Mosspaul and crossing the watershed there improved the weather too.

Mosspaul

Looking back in some welcome sunshine at the grey clouds that I had left behind

The helpful wind didn’t quite last all the way to Hawick and it was evidently doing what the forecasters had suggested and coming round to the north so I had to push a bit harder for the last five miles.  The recent rains have got the rivers flowing now, and there was plenty of water rushing down the Slitrig Burn in the middle of the town.

Slitrig Burn

The nearby sculpture….

Hawick sculpture

…looks strangely out of place in a borders town but celebrates the moment when the Turnbull family got its name.  (By turning a bull!)

The ride up to Hawick had been very enjoyable and the changing of the wind was very encouraging so instead of just turning round myself and going back by the same road, I decided to follow the Slitrig Burn and come home by the scenic route.

garmin route 19 Aug 2018

Up on the left and back on the right

The journey back by Whitrope summit and Liddesdale has much the same shape as the journey up over Mosspaul but as you can see from the elevation profile above, it is slightly longer and the the hill is bigger, topping out at about 1100 feet.  However both parts of the journey have very steady gradients and very little gratuitous loss of height so with the wind behind, as it was both ways today, they offer no great challenge to the elderly cyclist.

I saw some things as I cycled along the valley bottom beside the Slitrig burn.

mill wheelpig

Once up in the hills, there are extensive views…

view at Shankend

..with added viaduct.

Shankend viaduct

If the campaign to extend the Borders railway is successful, we might once again see train crossing the Shankend Viaduct.

Further on, I looked back northwards.  An information board told me that I was looking at the Catrail, a large and very long ditch.  Wikipedia tells me that: It is not known when or by whom the Catrail was made, or for what purpose. However, since it is not substantial enough to be an effective military barrier, it seems likely to have been a territorial boundary marker, possibly dating from the Early Middle Ages.

Since I couldn’t actually see the ditch, I enjoyed the splendid view instead.

catrail

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

forestry

…and a faint reminder of its former use.

sheep fold

A cycle sportive based in Hawick was taking place today and as I was going up the hill to the summit, I passed many cyclists going in the opposite direction to me.  As they were cycling into the wind and I wasn’t, I didn’t mind.  I had my wind assisted downhill still to come.

A small group of enthusiasts have preserved a mile or two of the old railway at the summit and I passed several parked items of rolling stock

Whitrope railway

Although the stock is a fine sight, it is nothing compared to the beauty of the road south.

Whitrope road

It is my favourite piece of road, especially on a day like today, sunny and with a light following wind and the knowledge of ten miles of gentle and continuous descent ahead.

The road and stream go down the hill together…

whitrope burn

And at this point the road crosses the stream by this fine bridge…

bridge and waterfall

…at the same time as the stream rushes across a small cascade.

As an added bonus, the bridge carries both moss and lichen for the delight of the discerning passer by..

moss and lichen

It became obvious that I was cycling a bit too fast down towards the village of Newcastleton as there were ominous black clouds ahead and the roads were getting progressively wetter so it was clear that I was catching up with a rain shower.

With this in mind, I sensibly stopped in a cafe in the village to have a cup of coffee and a toastie.  I would have had a rock bun too, which I had paid for, if they had given it to me but I got fed up with waiting and left unbunned.  I didn’t make a fuss because by the time that I realised that it wasn’t coming, I had spent too long sitting down and needed to get my legs working again.

The ten miles down to Canonbie, along the valley of the Liddle Water were the most undulating of the whole trip but the views are often delightful…

Liddesdale

…and the general trend is downhill so with the wind still behind me, I kept up a reasonable speed.

I was expecting that the last six miles back to Langholm would be hard work into the wind but the road is well sheltered and it was easy enough.

I stopped at the Hollows Bridge to admire the rush of water coming down the Esk..

Esk from Hollows

…and pedalled home very happily.

Full details of the ride can be found by clicking here.

I did more climbing today than I have done in any ride this year but thanks to the gentle gradients and the excellent selection of low gears on my new bike, I managed to keep my tin knee turning over very sweetly and the whole ride was unalloyed pleasure.  With only one or two short rough sections, the road surfaces were pretty smooth and pothole free which makes cycling so much more enjoyable than when you have to keep your eyes stuck to the road surface ahead.

Mrs Tootlepedal was out volunteering at the Buccleuch Centre when I got back so I had gentle potter round the garden doing some dead heading and flower watching.

The theme was pink.

These are pink Japanese anemones, new in the garden last year.

pink Japanese anemone

You might think at first sight that I was in the vegetable garden but these are dicentra seeds with Lords and Ladies in the background.

dicentra

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

dahlia

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

onions

Just as I got over Skippers Bridge on my way back into town on my bicycle, I had passed a lady looking at a big buddleia.  “Any butterflies?” I asked.  “Masses,” she replied. So I looked at our big buddleia.  There were a lot of butterflies on it too.

Peacock Butterfly pair

Some even posed for the camera.

Peacock Butterfly at full stretch

And among the peacocks, there was a lone red admiral…

red admiral butterfly

…which wouldn’t pose properly for me.

The Michaelmas daisies beside the buddleia had lots of bees

bee on daisy

I went in to have a cup of tea and set the bird watching camera up.  The calmer weather had brought them back into the garden.

There were several blue tits about.

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And the usual sparring sparrows.

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The very white sparrow is getting some colour…

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

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The jackdaws take a good portrait.

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Mrs Tootlepedal finally got back from a long screening at the Buccleuch Centre where she had been helping with front of house duties and we rounded off the day with a tasty liver casserole followed by nectarines and cream on a meringue base.  (The meringue bases come in packets of eight so we get four treats from a packet.)

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow getting close up and personal.

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Sorry about the over length post but it was such a treat getting a good day after all the drizzle that I couldn’t help myself.

 

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