Posts Tagged ‘Rockcliffe’

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by our friend Gavin.  Last week when we were enjoying wet and grey conditions here, he was over on the east coast basking in the sun on Tynemouth beach, a mere 80 miles away.   But it was chilly there too in the brisk wind in spite of the sun.

tynemouth beach

We enjoyed a pleasant day of warm spring weather here today.  The shock was so great that I nearly had to go back to bed for a lie down to recover.  In the end though, I pulled myself together, turned down an offer of treacle scones, nodded at the goldfinches on the feeder…


…and set off for a pedal.  I didn’t rush out as it was only 5°C after breakfast and I didn’t want to have to put on a lot of cold weather gear only to have to take it off again as the day warmed up.  I compromised and waited until it hit 8° and only had to shed a few garments as I went round.  (I have a handy pannier to store them in.)

As I was hoping for a longer ride than usual, I stopped from time to time to have a drink and a snack and make sure that my legs got a rest.

I enjoyed this bank of snowdrops near Gair at my first stop.

snopwdrops at gair

I didn’t enjoy having to take my front wheel off and clear a lot of mud from my front mudguard which I had picked up when I cycled past the new windfarm  site entrance on the top of Callister.  The potholes there have been mended but the mud is a continuing problem for cyclists.

The wind was not strong but it was in my face for most of the outward journey so I made slow progress down to the village of Rockcliffe, which sits on the bank of the River Eden.

I parked my bike just before I got to the village and walked down a short track to the riverside and enjoyed the peaceful scene.

rockcliffe and eden

I had just turned away from the river when a loud noise made me look back.

I was amazed to see a tidal bore rolling up the river towards me and struggled to get my phone out to record the scene as my camera was having one of those Lumix moments when the zoom won’t extend.

I have seen bores on the news before but I have never seen one in real life so this was a treat. It was surprisingly loud and although it was only about a foot high, it looked very powerful as it swept past me…


…with the front of the bore not being a straight line as I expected but an elegant curve.


My camera started working again at this point and I used it to record the contrast between the calm water ahead of the wave and the turbulent movement behind it.

bore on eden 3

Three canoeists were paddling along behind the bore.  Whether they had been riding it earlier and had got left behind, I don’t know.

canoeists follwoing bore

I reclaimed my bike and went on my way very cheerfully, having seen a sight that I had never expected to see.

As I got back on the road, I enjoyed a black and white view of horses.

rockcliffe horses

The direct route that I wanted to take from Rockcliffe was closed for resurfacing so I had to go round by the cycle lane along the new northern by-pass.  This led me past a newly constructed pond and I was pleased to see that what could just have been a utilitarian run off pool had been carefully sculpted and planted with reeds.

pond near asda

I turned for home and crossed the A7 at Blackdyke, and on my way, I passed this, the first dandelion of spring.

first dandelion of spring

From there I headed onto the Brampton Road, joining it opposite this  fine row of trees..

three trees brampton road

…and then I stopped for a sit on a bench below the Longtown bridge for a final snack and drink.


I was hoping for some waterside bird life but there was none, so I took a shot through one of the arches…

longtown brodge arch

…and, with the wind now behind me,  I cycled home up the hill a good deal faster than I had come down.

The day was so well adjusted for cycling that I might well have gone further but my legs, which are a bit out of practice, objected so I settled for 53 miles at a modest pace and was very pleased to have had the opportunity to do that.

I said a day or two ago that the flowers in the garden were just waiting for a bit of sun to come out.  They got a bit of sun  today and they came out.

clump of blue crocus

single crocus

creamy crocus

I was interested to see a lot of insects about.

pale crocus


yellow crocus

Mrs Tootlepedal reported that she had seen a bee early in the afternoon but it had left before I arrived.  We are going to refer to it as Bee A as it is the first that we have seen this year.

She did some gardening while I checked on the frogs….

two frogs in pond

They were not seeing eye to eye today

…and then I went in to make a cup of tea and watch the birds.  There were not many about.

chaffinch head down

A second helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pie round off a good day very well.  We had some marrow on the side.  We have had a big marrow on the go for several weeks and it has provided many side dishes for meals and shows no sign of going over at all.  It is the only one of our own vegetables left as the fish pie had used the last of our home grown potatoes. Still, we have been eating our own potatoes since August so we can’t complain. They kept very well thanks to the good summer.

Birds were very few and far between when I was watching today but I did find a flying chaffinch of the day.

flying chaffinch

Those interested can click on the map below for more details of the ride.
Garmin route 22 Feb 19

A final note: the traction on my back seems to have helped my foot problem a lot and it is much less painful than it has been.  I hope that this progress continues.

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony, who took this view of the old and the new Forth road bridges.  The new one, in the background, opens at the end of this month.

Forth bridges

Thanks to our visitors we had a untypical breakfast today as the vote went for bacon and egg baps instead of our normal porridge.  It was a good decision and our visitors, after an inspection of the garden with the gardener….

sara janet and ally

A completely spontaneous unposed shot

…went on their way in good spirits.  They had two more gardens to visit on their schedule and it was fortunate that the weather forecast was better than it has been lately.

After they left, we had a cup of coffee and a look round the garden…

the moss roses are the last of our roses still in flower

The moss roses are the last of our roses still in flower

…and then I got the fairly speedy bike out, armed myself with a couple of bananas and some raisins and set off to see where my legs would go.

After some pretty breezy days, it was good to find that the winds were much lighter today but I still took the precaution of heading down to the flat lands of the Solway plain to give myself an easy ride.

To make sure that I was eating and drinking properly (refuelling as the real athletes say), I stopped every ten miles for a minute or two to take on half a banana, some raisins, a morsel of guava jelly and a drink of water.  I also took a picture.

The Esk at Longtown

This is the Esk near Longtown

I circled round the quiet lanes of North Cumbria and my second stop was at Scaleby.  It has impressive bull rushes…

bull rushes

…a church with a tower….

Scaleby Church

…and some very fine lichen on the churchyard wall.


My next stop was at a church with a spire at Blackdyke.

Blackdyke church

It is a very small spire, I agree.

Keeping to the flat lands, I headed across to Rockliffe and as I left the village, there was willowherb on my left and Himalayan balsam on my right…

willowherb and balsam

…which made for a very pretty stretch of road.


The forecast had said that there might be some rain at three o’clock and it was bang on.  As three o’clock arrived so did a sharp rain shower.  Luckily I was protected by nature…

tree tunnel

…and by the fact that I had prudently packed a rain jacket for the trip.  The rain didn’t last for long and after a few miles, I was able to pack the rain jacket away again.  While I was doing this this, I noticed a small bridge nearby.

old railway bridge

This is an old railway bridge on the abandoned line between Longtown and Carlisle and in a better ordered world, I might have been cycling under it on a well constructed bike track rather than over it on a narrow road.

Still, the narrow road took me to my third church of the trip, the fine building of the parish church at Arthuret.

Arthuret Church

It has to be said that if you go round to the front of the church, it doesn’t look quite so impressive.

Arthuret Church

It is certainly not as wide as it is long.

Across the road from the church,  the corn was high…


It is grown for animal feed.

…though perhaps not as high as an elephant’s eye.

As I pedalled back up the hill towards Langholm, I left the cereal fields behind and found myself among the heather on the hills.

cereal and heather

Thanks to the benign conditions and the flat route, I managed to keep my average speed up to 15 mph for the first 45 miles and only just slipped back to 14.8 mph in the last eight miles, where I was heading into what wind there was.

My knees were feeling a bit creaky when I stopped so before going in for a cup of tea, I walked round the garden to ease them off and enjoyed the first stargazer lily of the season which has come out to brighten things up. It’s a very handsome flower…

stargazer lily

…whichever way you look at it.

stargazer lily

The flying bird of the day is a little squirrel which held me up as it decided which way to go this afternoon.


Those interested can find details of the bike ride by clicking on the map below.  You can see how flat the route was.

garrmin route 8 Aug 2017

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my sister Mary, who was on the Unite for Europe March yesterday (as was my sister Susan).  It was rather mentally dislocating to see this peaceful and sunny picture after the recent events nearby.

Unite for Europe March 25.03.17 003

We had our third consecutive day of beautiful weather here and we are having to try very hard not to get too used to this sort of thing as it can’t possibly last.

It was such a good morning that I didn’t spend any time making a meal for the slow cooker while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir but got out on my bike instead.  Once again, I had to wait until the morning had warmed up a bit but considering that the clocks had jumped forward an hour during the night, I was quite pleased to get out as early as I did.

My route was extremely dull, being straight down the main road for 15 miles and then straight back again so I didn’t take my camera but I did use my phone to catch a tree at my turning point.

tree near smithfield

The Sunday morning ride is usually very peaceful but for some reason there was a steady stream of traffic going south today and this made the trip less enjoyable that normal so I was happy to get home.  I had hoped to do the 30 mile trip in under two hours but  a freshening crosswind on my way back meant that I missed my target by three minutes.  On the plus side, the thirty miles took me over 1000 miles for the year which is a notable landmark.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I arrived and I got out my camera and had a walk round.

The crocuses have enjoyed the three warm days and were putting on a good show…


…after looking as though they were completely over  earlier in the week.

In the pond, the warmth has caused the weed to grow a lot…


…but there was enough space for a mass of wriggling tadpoles…


…who seemed to be blowing bubbles under the surface.  I have never seen foam like this before and can’t decide whether it is a good or a bad sign of tadpole health.

The grape hyacinths are making a little progress…

grape hyacinth

…although the planned river of blue is still the merest trickle.

The euphorbias are growing bigger every day.


…but so is the moss on the lawn.  I did mow a bit more of the middle lawn but there are spots when a blade of grass is hard to find.

I went in and looked out.


A chaffinch, perhaps wondering sadly if it always has to be the same seed for lunch.

flying chaffinch

And another putting a spell on a bird below in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We had a light lunch and then, after a quick run through one of the songs for out Carlisle choir, we set off for a bit of shopping and the weekly choir practice.

The practice was fun but hard work, as we are going through a couple of songs where if you are singing an A, there is bound to be someone else singing a B in your ear.  Still, we did get praise from our conductor for having obviously done home practice so that was very satisfactory.  More is required though.

It was such a lovely day, that we took a  roundabout route home.  We passed a pub in Rockcliffe and called in to see if we could get a meal as there wasn’t one ready in the slow cooker at home.  We had forgotten that it was Mothering Sunday though and the pub told us that they were on their third session of people taking mum out for a meal already and if we hadn’t booked, we were too late.

 We consoled ourselves by walking past the village church…

Rockcliffe Church

…and down onto the water meadow beside the River Eden.  It is a beautiful spot on a sunny evening.

River Eden

River Eden

River Eden

The River Eden floods so the church is placed on a handy hill…

rockliffe church

…and the bank below it was covered in pretty primroses.

rockliffe church

Mrs Tootlepedal was much struck by the roots of a tree fixed into the rocks beside the track to the church.

rockliffe church

There must be the makings of a ghoulish fairy story in the manner of the Grimm Brothers there.

We drove home and enjoyed a fry up for our tea.  Not quite as good as a meal out but quite tasty all the same.

The flower of the day is a chionodoxa, smiling back at the sun…


…and the flying bird is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture shows a work of art outside the Royal Academy that caught my sister Mary’s eye.  I used to make shapes like that with the children at school.

Sculpture outside the Royal AcademyMrs Tootlepedal went off to Edinburgh to visit Matilda, TWGSP, but was unable to produce a photographic record of the trip as Matilda was suffering from a heavy cold and was not at all photogenic.

Because the wind had dropped overnight, Mrs Tootlepedal had to scrape ice off the car before she set off and I  had plenty of time to do the crossword before the temperature got above 4 degrees C and became suitable for cycling.

I had in mind a very gentle pedal as I still had a residue of little aches and pains from being knocked over by the wind a couple of days ago and was unsure how getting on a bike would feel.  I armed myself with two bananas, a chocolate biscuit and a tuna roll from John’s shop and gave it a go.

Shortly after I set out, I was passed by the demon figure of Dropscone whizzing down the road in the opposite direction on his speedy bike near the end of his morning run.  He is a harder man then me when it comes to cycling in low temperatures.

After the very chilly winds of the last few days, it was a great treat to be out in more kindly weather.  The sun shone and although the temperature was actually lower than recent days, it felt much warmer.  As I got into my gentle pedalling rhythm, it became apparent that once again Dr Bicycle had worked his miracle cure and the aches and pains had vanished so I extended my horizons.

garmin 2 Apr 15My plan, which was a very good one, was to get a bit of early height and then swoop down to the Solway shore and cycle along the flat lands for the rest of the ride.

I had my camera with me but my photography mind was working at a slower pace than my legs and I was often well past a good photo opportunity before it had properly registered and I wasn’t in the mood to stop and go back so pictures are few and literally far between.

Some colourful roofs tempted me to stop for a breather at Kennedy’s Corner at twelve miles, my last moment in the hills.

Kennedy's CornerOn the other side of the road, a gate led to the last of the rough pasture that I would see…Kennedy's Corner…before descending to the Solway shore.

SolwayIn spite of the sunshine, the snow on the the summit of Skiddaw on the far side of the firth shows that we haven’t really thrown off winter finally yet.

I left Scotland and followed the English shoreline down to Rockcliffe where I enjoyed a cup of coffee and a packet of crisps in the Crown and Thistle pub.

Pub at RockcliffeMy route home took me wandering through north Cumbria and I raised a smile when I was passed by a lorry carrying portable toilets which boasted the company name  “WC in Fields”.

I stopped for my final banana at the bridge over the Esk in Canonbie.  Although the view from the bridge is frankly dull..

Esk at Canonbie…and it is not one of the bridges where by law you have to stop and take a picture, it did have some striking lichen on its parapet…

Canonbie lichen…and some very nice willows beside it.

willowThe lack of hills on the route made for an easy pedalling experience and I was able to get to the fifty mile mark with little trouble, although my average speed was nothing to write home about at all.

When I got home, I walked round the garden.  In spite of the sunshine, it has been so chilly in general that we are in a sort of limbo.  Flowers are starting to come out and then staying stuck.

grape hyacinths

The paler grape hyacinth on the right has been just like that for days.

There are daffodils about but the larger ones are coming along very slowly…

daffodils…long after the early smaller ones came out.

small daffsThis plant, the name of which I have forgotten, seems almost frozen.


It has been like this for a week.

Even the tadpoles are unwilling to wriggle.

I filled the bird feeders, went inside and kept an eye out of the window.

A robin

A robin has a competition with a fat ball to see which can be roundest


A chaffinch tries to make its mind up on the question


A blackbird doesn’t care and  disapproves of almost everything.

Among the birds, I saw a bee flying about and rushed out to watch it.


It was struggling to squeeze a bit of pollen out of some pulmonaria

When Mrs Tootlepedal came home, we shared a rather uninspired sausage casserole that I had made for our tea and then I went off to the Archive Centre to meet Sandy.  Our internet connection was on its best behaviour and we put two weeks of the newspaper index into the database before retiring for a restorative glass of red wine at the Eskdale Hotel.

There are two flying birds of the day today.  As there were three female party leaders on stage in the televised election debate tonight, I thought that I ought to have a male and a female flying bird to celebrate this.  (There were some men too but they weren’t making much sense.)

flying chaffinchflying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture, taken by my sister Mary a few days ago, shows a bed of tulips in St James’ Park, London and it just goes to show that however many lovely tulips Mrs Tootlepedal has in her garden, the Queen can afford more.  A lot more.

St James's Park

The weather continues to behave very well for the moment and we had a day of unbroken sunshine for which we are duly grateful.  Mrs Tootlepedal is still finding retirement very much to her liking and suggested a pub lunch today.  I was very happy to agree.  When she said that she was bicycling to the pub and it was in Rockcliffe, twenty miles away, I was very happy literally to go along with that too.

It was chilly first thing so we were in no hurry to set out and I was able to find a moment to admire a goldfinch in the plum tree.

goldfinch in plum tree

The goldfinch seemed to be admiring the blossom

We took a straightforward route on our way down to Rockcliffe, using the bike path to Canonbie, then the main road to Longtown and then National Cycle Route 7 which happily goes right past the pub entrance.

Crown and Thistle

The pub’s name, the Crown and Thistle is appropriate for an establishment so near to the border between England and Scotland.

Once we got past Longtown, we were on very quiet country roads….

Cumbrian by ways

… with the occasional grand house to look at as we passed.


This is the curiously named Justicetown

The modern world was not far away however and we had to cross first the busy M6…


…and then the busy mainline railway.  We had to wait at the level crossing while trains passed us in both directions.

level crossing

We weren’t exactly dawdling ourselves and arrived for lunch having averaged nearly eleven miles an hour for the nineteen mile journey.

The lunch was excellent….

Crown and thistle

Mrs Tootlepedal enjoying a plate of locally sourced Cumberland sausage and mashed potatoes

….and we took our time over it.  After coffee (and ice cream for me) we went down to the meadow which runs down to the bank of the river Eden and enjoyed the peaceful scene.


The rock cliff which gives the village its name.

River Eden

A house with a view

Rockliffe church

Rockliffe church

On a day like to day, it looked like the Garden of Eden indeed but on a wet and windy winter’s day when the waves are battering against the sea wall you can see at the back of the meadow, it might not be quite so inviting.

Still, we didn’t think of that but just enjoyed it all.  Soon we got organised and started for home.  We took a different and less direct route back, passing through Gretna and Glenzier and ending up by coming back down the Wauchope road.

We passed plenty of wild flowers as we went…

wild flowers

…but the most interesting was this line of tiny flowers near Gretna.

tiny flowers

Any suggestions as to what they are would be welcomed.

In contrast to the busy M6, we passed the bridge which once carried the main road between England and Scotland over the River Sark, the border between the two countries.

Border bridge

The whole ride was a delight, the temperature being pleasantly cool in spite of the sunshine but it was still a good moment after 40 miles when the hills of home came into sight at Wauchope School with only three miles of gently downhill road to go.


Our speed home, with  more distance and some gentle climbing to do, hadn’t matched our outward pace but we completed the cycling part of the 43 mile trip in four and a half hours. Add in the time for lunch, banana breaks and the visit to the river at Rockcliffe and it had taken a bit over six hours in all.   We did a bit of crossing as we went – the M6 twice, the railway four times and the border four times as well.

This was the furthest Mrs Tootlepedal had cycled in one go for a year or two but she had enough energy left to get out in the garden after a cup of tea and a shower.  I joined her there to look for flowers to shoot.


Tulips everywhere.


A magnolia is just coming out by the front gate.


There were still birds sitting in the plum tree.


It was such a lovely day that it was a pity to go inside at all so we drove up onto the Langholm Moor where we were able to catch a few fleeting glimpses of hen harriers.  I was also very pleased to see a grouse.  Huge sums of money have been spent trying to encourage the return of grouse to this moor so it was good to be able to prove that at least one is about.

red grouse

To be fair we did see another one as well.

If Mrs Tootlepedal’s retirement is going to consist of pub lunches and forty mile cycle rides in the sunshine, I am going to enjoy it a great deal.

I did manage to find time to catch a flying bird of the day in the evening sun.

flying chaffinch






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