Posts Tagged ‘River Sark’

Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce, who by coincidence passed me when I was out cycling this afternoon.  He had visited a distillery on his recent highland tour and was wondering whether he had imagined the rainbow when he came out but his wife confirmed that it really was there.

highland rainbow

There was no chance of a rainbow here today as the sun shone steadily from a clear blue sky from dawn to dusk .

It wasn’t very windy and it was decidedly warm for the time of year so it was definitely a day for cycling.  I had had only one outing on my bike in the past fortnight and as a result I didn’t want to overdo things so I was more than happy to start the day with coffee and scones and a catch up with Dropscone.

He has had a busy time lately so there was a lot of catching up to do.

As the sun stays lower in the sky at this time of year, it takes some time until it gets round to shining in our garden so a breakfast shot of the feeder makes it look chillier than it actually was…

busy feeder

…but by the time that Dropscone left, the garden was full of sunshine…

october flowers in the sun

…though some flowers were still in the shade.

This was my favourite shot of the morning.


The delphinium seems determined to go on flowering as long as possible. (The lawn needs mowing again!)

I got my new bicycle out with enough time left in the day for a reasonable ride and set out to see where my legs would carry me.

The green hills around us are definitely brown now….

View from Wauchope School Brae

..but it would be hard to find a better day for cycling in October than this one.

My legs turned out to be in a very co-operative mood and with the wind coming from the south east, I was able to have an easier start than usual and got to Eaglesfield in good time.  Thereafter, I took a route along familiar roads but with variations of direction and combinations of routes that made the ride interesting for me.  I snapped away as I went along.

I was hoping for autumn colour but it was sporadic…

autumn colour ecclefechan

…and it was warm enough for a bovine paddle near Ecclefechan.

cows in pool

I went through a good variety of road side scenery from the enclosed…

hedged in road

…to the wide open.  The sun glinting off the Solway was dazzling.

view over the solway plain

There is no shortage of peel towers in our area.  This one is beside the Annan to Kirkpatrick Fleming road…

tower near Creca

…which I left to follow the small back road down to Rigg and Gretna.  I stopped just before Rigg.

The Gretna to Dumfries railway uses the arched bridge in the foreground while the new main road uses the modern concrete bridge behind, to cross the Kirtle Water.

railway bridge at Rigg

From Gretna, I followed the course of the River Sark to Milltown of Sark.  This picture shows Scotland in the foreground, the river which constitutes the border and then England beyond.  A lot of bloodshed and diplomacy went into creating this mighty barrier between nations.

River sark on Springfield road

On my way to Milltown, while I was in England for a few miles, I passed the migrating geese which feed in the fields near Englishtown farm.  There were thousands of them and my camera could only catch a fraction of them at a  time.  They were too far from the road to get a shot of an individual goose.

lots of geese in a field

I had chosen a route with some fine beech hedges on the way, in the hope of getting some good autumn colour but the hedges were a disappointment and I had to wait until I got to the river Esk near Langholm to find something worth stopping for.

river at landslipriver from skippers looking northriver from skippers looking south

My knees are a bit creaky at the moment so I resisted the temptation to ’round up the decimals’ and settled for stopping after 47 miles at a suitably relaxed pace to match the benign day.

It was such a lovely day that I did think of a walk when I got home but for some reason got no further than the garden where a lone red admiral butterfly was to be seen ignoring the sedum.

red admiral butterlfy october

There was a contrast in clematis – ‘out there’ and ‘in there’.

two clematis

A poppy catching the low sun was the pick of the flowers this afternoon.

poppy in late sun

After tea, I went off to sing with the Langholm Community Choir and had a good time.  I think that my first singing lesson is helping already.  We are singing music from shows as well as Christmassy stuff and there is plenty of work for the basses so there was no sleeping on the job today.

A phone call to see how Mrs Tootlepedal is getting on at her mother’s rounded off the day and I was pleased to have made good use of the best day for some days to come with threats of a new storm hanging over our heads at the weekend.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch coming into the evening sun.

flying chaffinch in late sun


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Today’s guest picture is the last from Dropscone’s trip to the south.  His daughter Susan is a great motor racing fan so she took him to visit the historic Brooklands track.  There is not much of it left.


Yesterday’s rain had disappeared today.  This was particularly pleasing as I had to start the day by visiting the Moorland Feeders where I was acting as a fill-in feeder filler for the regular couple who are enjoying (I hope) a holiday in New Zealand.

It was almost sunny so I was hoping for interesting birds and some good light.  I got neither.  Oddly, the light was very poor, probably because it was hazier than it looked at first sight.  We seem to be in a  period of very high humidity and it was lurking around the 90% level all day.

There were a great many chaffinches…

moorland feeder chaffinches

…and a lot of squabbling siskins…

moorland feeder siskins

…and of course, the usual seed thief.  Not sorry today, not sorry at all….and making sure that I got her best side.

female pheasant

I don’t know when the birds here were last netted and ringed but a least one chaffinch is loyal to the feeding site.

ringed chaffinch

I stayed for quite a time as it is easy to feel that the moment that you get up to go all sorts of interesting birds will turn up so you linger for another few minutes just in case….but they didn’t so I left and went home.

There were siskins and chaffinches there too.

siskin and chaffinch

We did have a brief visit from two blue tits to break the monotony…

blue tits

The one on the right has something in its beak which gives it that odd look.

…but mostly it was chaffinches.

chaffinch flying

It was warm enough to stroll round the garden and I took a picture of some very damp snowdrops in the morning and then again in the afternoon.  In spite of the dry day, some of them were still damp five hours later


After lunch, I went for a thirty one mile pedal.  I would have liked to have gone further but my legs were on strike and thirty one rather slow miles was my limit.  I had to work so hard just to get round that I didn’t have much energy or thought for taking pictures but I did stop once or twice, if only to get a breather.

There was some fine gorse on the Gair road.


but it didn’t stand out in the grey conditions.

Things brightened up for the second half of the ride though and I stopped to admire a wind sculpted tree…

Tree near Chapelknowe

…though the road men may have helped the effect by lopping branches on the road side.

I stopped again at our own mighty  Río Pequeño, the boundary between Scotland and England.  No need for a wall here, only a very daring person would attempt to cross this river when they came to it.


The sun was making things very pleasant as I approached the last few hills before getting home…


…but my mood was slightly darkened as I plugged up the next hill when I was passed by an old geezer pedalling an electric bike….and not just passed but left for dead.  It was most annoying.

He looked thoroughly serene.

When I got home, I had a walk round the garden to check on the daffodils.  There is still only one rather depressed one out but there is promise of more soon.

early daffs

The low sunshine was so golden that I couldn’t resist a quick jaunt on the slow bike down to the river.

Town Bridge

The days are getting longer but the sun is still pretty low at 4 pm.

pine trees

The low sun brings out the colour on the trunks of the pine trees

Mr Grumpy and friend were to be seen just up from the Meeting of the Waters.


It was a case of taking the rough….


…with the smooth.

I had a last look at the pine trees….

pine tree

…and went home, where I had a sit down, a shower and a massive fry-up for my tea.

In the evening, I went up to the Archive Centre to help a new archivist get to grips with our system.  It is a fairly tedious business at first with a great deal to learn but he stuck in well and we made a lot of progress.  Another session or two will be needed before he becomes a fully fledged data miner.

There was a goldfinch or two among the chaffinches and siskins in the garden and this one made flying bird of the day.

flying goldfinch



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Today’s guest picture is a reminder from my sister Mary of sunny days in the South of France, captured when we visited Aix-en-Provence not so long ago.

Aix-en-Provence -Cafe where Cezanne and Zola used to meet - called Les Deux Garcons

Today had two good things about it  and one of them was surprising considering that the forecast had been for rain showers all day when I last looked at it.

The first good thing was the arrival of Dropscone for coffee on a Saturday bringing with him the traditional Friday treacle scones. Freshly cooked too.  While we ate and drank, the rain poured down outside but when it came to be time for Dropscone to leave, the rain had stopped.  It still looked pretty gloomy but I ventured out into the garden after a while.

Of course as soon as I said in yesterday’s post that the blackbirds had gone, they came back today…


…and I saw a goldfinch while we were having coffee too.  When I looked over the back fence, I could see that the blackbirds had been busy eating the rowan berries on the other side of the dam which was probably why I hadn’t been seeing them in the garden.

As soon as I got my camera out though, they all flew off leaving a starling to take the rap.

starling with rowan berry

I enjoyed watching some sparrows bathing in the dam while I waited for the blackbirds to come back…

sparrows bathing in dam

…but the blackbirds were camera shy so I gave up and went in and had lunch.

I took a couple of pictures on my way in.


A single snowberry


A lot of marigolds (and some nicotiana and nasturtiums)

While I was preparing lunch, I was entertained by a pair of blue tits on the feeder.

Blue tits

The second good thing about the day was that when I checked the forecast again, it said that it would be dry, possibly sunny later and almost windless in the afternoon.  It was a bit hard to believe after the poor forecast yesterday and the morning rain shower but I put on my cycling gear and ventured tentatively out, ready to turn for  home at a moment’s notice.

It was windless so I pedalled on and although it was grey and autumnal…

Sprinkell road

The road near Sprinkell

…it was good cycling weather.

I stopped for a bridge near Eaglesfield….

Eaglesfield bridge

…with the merest hint of blue sky off to my right.  By the time that I had got to Gretna, the blue sky had become a fixture and the bridge over the Sark was glowing in the sunshine.

Sark Bridge, Gretna

I leant my bike against the parapet and enjoyed a banana while viewing Gretna’s answer to the Rio Grande.


Scotland to the left and England to the right.

I had started out with twenty miles in mind and as I had done twenty five by this time, I headed straight up the main roads back to Langholm with the gentlest of breezes helping me on my way.  It had become a perfect day for a pedal in every way.

I made a little deviation off the A7 to visit Hollows Bridge…

Hollows Bridge

…and see my favourite fiery tree…

fiery tree Hollows

…before stopping off to admire  Hollows Tower.

Hollows Tower

Mrs Tootlepedal was at home by this time after a full day learning about Japanese quilting at an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting so I stopped pootering about and put my head down for the last few miles home.

It was lucky that I did have my head down as I noticed something unusual in the verge as I passed the Middleholms road end.


I stopped and looked around.

Ink Cap

It was a bunch of common ink cap mushrooms at various stages of development

I took the opportunity, since I had already stopped, to cross the road and look across the Esk to where I had lately been taking pictures from the other side.


I managed the distance neatly so that I arrived home bang on 40 miles.  This was very pleasing for a decimally inclined chap like myself.  Then I enjoyed a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal.  We both felt that we had had a good day out.

There was enough light left to watch a coal tit on the feeder….

coal tit

…before I went off to have a shower.

I had put a beef and vegetable stew into the slow cooker in the morning so all that was needed for the complete evening meal was some courgette fritters and Mrs Tootlepedal came up trumps on that front.

Being Saturday, we settled down to enjoy our weekly dose of Strictly Come dancing as we ate our meal and we hope that this week, the worst dancer will get eliminated, something which often doesn’t happen owing to a misplaced sense of irony in the voting audience.

My flower of the day is the Fuschia on the back wall by the dam which I noticed while I was stalking berry eating blackbirds….


…and the flying bird is a berry eating blackbird which flew off before I could photograph it.

flying blackbird




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Today’s guest picture shows the audience at the reconstructed Globe Theatre in London.  It was taken yesterday by my sister Mary.  She enjoyed a performance of Richard II there.

Globe TheatreWe enjoyed a non stop performance by the sun today.  Although it was none too warm in the morning, by the afternoon there could be no complaints about the warmth at at all.

I started the day with a wander round the garden to see what caught the eye.  Poppies did…..

poppies… as did cornflowers or bachelors’ buttons as I have been told they may be called.


An excellent packet of seeds.

Then I went for a cycle ride.  I have been taking advantage of the recent good weather and my legs rather felt that I had been taking advantage of them too and refused to contemplate anything speedy today.  This gave me the opportunity to pop off the bike twice and look at a couple of bridges on my way.  The first was near Waterbeck.

I hopped over a gate and walked along the banks of the Kirtle Water…

Kirtle water…until I came to the bridge over which I had just cycled.

Kirtle water bridgeLooking at the work that went into building this fine bridge for a very small back road, I am always amazed at the amount of money that was spent making the roads of Dumfriesshire.  There must be over a hundred  such bridges I would think.

My second bridge was the one spanning the River Sark, which marks the border between England and Scotland at Corries Mill.

Sark bridgeI didn’t dally long in England and was soon back in Scotland and on my way back.

I went at a very gentle speed but was anticipating a good rush home downhill over the last few miles….

View from the Bloch…but the wind got up for the first time on my journey and between recalcitrant legs and the breeze in my face, the last few miles were quite hard work.  (Details of the course may be seen here.)

I got back in time for lunch and had a moment to watch some very busy sparrows….

sparrows….before a spell in the tourist office in the early afternoon gave me the chance of a good rest.  I wasn’t much bothered by tourists, although one or two did seek guidance about the best way to leave the town.

Sandy came to join me and we arranged to go for a walk.  I went back to the house when the office had closed and then joined Sandy in the High Street.  It was a gloriously warm day by this time and the steep climb up the Kirk Wynd at the start of our trip was taken at a suitably sedate pace.

Our route was lined with bold wild flowers, daisies on one side and rosebay willowherb on the other….

wild flowers…and more delicate ones too.

wild flowersNear the top of the lane, we passed one of my favourite gates, this one leading onto the golf course.

gate onto golf courseWhen we did get onto the hill, it was far from peaceful, with bees buzzing on brambles and the gorse bush seeds crackling like popcorn….

bees and gorse…but we soon left this behind as we walked along the track to the quarry.

It was almost impossible to stop taking pictures on such a lovely day and I have had to discard most of them.  I kept a few to put in here though.

golf course

A view of the golf course (especially for Dropscone)

sheep and thistle down

Two woolly objects

sandy and a butterfly

Two resting moments


Our way down the hill


Looking back over the town

Although there was not much of it about, the heather was looking good.

heatherWhen we got off the open hill, the shade of the woodland path was very welcome.

Round house pathAs we came to the end of the path, we met a horse and rider just about to set off on their jaunt.

horse and rider

The horse was keen to have her picture taken

We walked through the town and then parted on the High Street as we took our separate ways home.

Such a splendid day almost made me forget the miserable summer so far…..almost but not quite.

After all this activity, I was happy to have a quiet evening in and a brief post.  A shy siskin is the flying bird of the day.

flying siskin

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Today’s picture was sent by my daughter Annie and shows the Exeter Morris Men at Topsham in Devon.

Exeter morris men at Topsham

We had that very rare thing, a pleasant summer day with absolutely not a single drop of rain involved.  Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in he church choir while I made preparations to go out for a proper Sunday pedal.   Before I left, I got the fairly speedy bike out and gave it a good wash and brush up and cleaned and lubricated the chain in the sunshine.  As it took me quite a bit of time to get organised and purchase the necessary bananas and healthy bars to act as fuel on the trip, Mrs Tootlepedal had actually come back from the Kirk before I got away.

Some of the delay may have been caused by the temptation to look out of the window.

coal tit

A coal tit takes advantage of an empty seat and nips off with a seed.

There were birds flying in all directions again.

There were birds flying in all directions again.

With a sparrow, a greenfinch, a siskin and some chaffinches, the picture above gives a fair reflection of our current visitors.

chaffinch flying off

An unusual shot of a flying chaffinch.

It takes me a bit of time to get mentally revved up for cycling these days so I might have wandered round the garden as well. I was baffled by what this flower was….


…as it seemed to be growing in an azalea and fern place but was obviously neither.  When I examined it more closely, it turned out to be a cosmos poking through the foliage from underneath.


These daisies are hanging on in a rather depressed sort of way.

But the rain hasn’t discouraged the bees and there are still plenty about.  The nasturtiums show how much moisture is still around on a sunny morning.

bee nasturtium

So I had cleaned the bike, bought fuel, watched the birds and looked at the flowers and I had finally run out of excuses.  I got on the bike and set off.  I hadn’t planned my journey as I thought that I would see how I was feeling but I did want to go somewhere different.

I set off off up the familiar Wauchope road and went over Callister as far as Paddockhole.  Instead of turning back there as I have been doing, I kept going this time and soon found myself looking down of the Water of Milk….

Water of Milk

You can see that an autumn tinge has started to turn the country brown.

…on my way to Bankshill.  When I got to Tundergarth School, I turned left and headed to the top of the hill passing this slice of modern life on the way.


My little camera couldn’t do justice to the splendid panoramic view which greeted me as I went over the summit (a lofty 244m).

Solway view

On my right was Burnswark…


It has the site of an iron age fort and a Roman camp on it.

And to make everything even better, in front of me was a lovely descent of two miles with no sudden bends or potholes.

I went on to Ecclefechan and then I was in the flat lands and my route home took me through Kirkpatrick Fleming, Glenzier and Canonbie, all with a kindly breeze behind me.  I stopped  to take a picture of the bridge over the River Sark.

River sark

In a mile or so, this will mark the border between England and Scotland. As I have remarked before, it is not quite the Rio Grande.

Once I reached Canonbie, I turned along the A7 and stopped to record the fine show of daisies on the banks beside this main road.

daisies on the A7

I pedalled home along the cycle path and arrived in good order having done 41 miles, easily the furthest that I have cycled this year.  I had taken the whole trip very easily and was pleased to arrive in a minute over three hours of cycling time.

Mrs Tootlepedal provided me with a cup of tea and a slice of cake to aid my recovery in a scientific way.  In my absence, she had done more good work in getting the new kitchen in order.   While we sipped our tea, we could hear a public address system going full blast on the Castleholm so after I had finished the tea and cake, I got the slow bike out to see what was going on.  It turned out to be a local flapping (unlicensed horse race) meeting.


I stopped to watch a three horse race.

Going to the paddock

One of the three going to the paddock

Another going to the start

Another going to the start

All three on the first circuit

All three on the first circuit

coming to the winning post

Two left as they came to the winning post, a lady jockey on the winner.

The last race of the day was another three horse race and as I thought I had had quite enough excitement already, I went home.   Mike Tinker came round and so I had another cup of tea and another slice of cake.  The day was turning out very well.

To make a perfect end to the day, I went out into the garden and saw a butterfly…


..and mowed a lawn.

The only fly in the ointment was an outbreak of computer bafflement as Mrs Tootlepedal got all sorts of indecipherable warnings about security on her computer as I was writing this post.  She got increasingly baffled and as I was trying to do two things at once, I wasn’t much help.  In the end, we are leaving it until a new day dawns in the vain hope that it might have all gone away.

We are applying a cup of hot chocolate to our mental wounds.

During the day, a blue tit made a strong bid to replace the robin on our Christmas card.

blue tit

It will need to comb its hair better  and choose a twig with less bird droppings on it.

Today’s flying bird is a chaffinch flying in a different direction.

chaffinch flying off












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