Posts Tagged ‘Samye Ling’

Today’s guest picture, like yesterday’s, comes from Canada but shows a different view of Thanksgiving Day there.  Langholm exile Joyce sent me this view from her window in Ontario.

Canada scene

We had an altogether better day today here as far as the weather went, with not even a hint of a raindrop about.  My plan was to make the best if the day by leaping up early and bicycling madly all day.

In real life, I got up rather late, had a leisurely breakfast and did the crossword and only then felt strong enough to get my bike out. For some reason, I am feeling a bit tired in general at the moment and far from bicycling madly about, I kept to a very steady speed indeed, especially when it came to going up hills.

And my route today had plenty of hills compared with my usual flattish outings.  I headed north out of town and aimed for the county boundary twenty miles away at the top of a hill.

There were plenty of excuses to stop along the way to take pictures.

I liked these poplars….

poplars near Craig

…and there was an amazing crop of crab apples on a tree beside the road.

crab apple beside road

I followed the Esk to the point where the Black and White Esk rivers meet.  (I stopped just so that I could take a Black and White picture in full colour.)

Black and White Esk meeting

I then cycled across the bridge over the Black Esk and followed the White Esk to its source.

black esk bridge

The road to Eskdalemuir up the west bank of the White Esk is one of my favourites.  It is quiet, well surfaced and has gentle gradients.

Castle O'er road

My route took me through the village at Eskdalemuir and past the Tibetan monastery, where the stupa was sparkling in the sunshine.

samye ling

The road climbs steadily to just over 1000 feet…

seismic station road

…so my bike was happy to have a rest while I ate a tuna roll at the county boundary.

county boundary

I ignored the charms of the Scottish Borders and after a ten minute break, I pedalled back home through Dumfries and Galloway.

I took the same route home as I had taken on the way out as the alternative route down the east bank of the river has a very steep hill which my knees were not anxious to face,

On one of my stops for refreshment and rest, I looked back up the Esk valley.  It appeared to be very benign in the gentle sunshine but it can be a harsh place in the winter.

looking up Esk valley

Although there was quite a bit of cloud about, it was so thin that the sun shone through it it all day.

My route took me along the Eskdale Prehistoric Trail and I stopped at one of the sites while I ate a banana.  There are information boards at the sites and some of the boards are more informative than others.

This one is unusually honest.

prehistoric trail board

This is the natural amphitheatre.  One of these days I am going down the path to try out the acoustics.

prehistoric trail over rig

It has been a very good year for cones and these trees along the Esk at Bailliehill were dripping with them.


pine cone glut

There was a little autumn colour here and there along the route and this tree beside the graveyard at Bentpath was the best.


autumn colour Westerkirk graveyard

I walked down to the river at the Bentpath Bridge but there are so many trees in front of the bridge that I couldn’t get a shot of the whole bridge and this glimpse through one of the arches was the best that I could do.

benty bridge

I pottered on gently and got home after 45 miles at very restful 11 mph.   As I had climbed over 2000 ft on my way, I was quite happy to have got home at all.

Mrs Tootlepedal had organised an exhibition of her Embroiderers’ Group work in the Welcome to Langholm office in the morning, and she had done some good gardening in the afternoon, so we had both had a full day.

After a cup of tea, I wandered round the garden.   Some plants were complaining that I had left them out of my review yesterday.

The most surprising is this hosta.  It has sent up flowering stems from some very brown leaves.

late hosta

The Icelandic poppies are still flowering in spite of poor dead heading from me.

two icelandic poppies

And the lamiums haven’t stopped at all since March.


Another little rose has taken advantage of the continuing warmth.

red rose

The fuchsia by the back gate has produced a large crop of berries.  Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that they might be edible but we are not going to try them.

fuchsia seeds

My flute pupil Luke came and we put in some heavy work on developing his counting skills.  It is obviously an area where I need to hone my teaching skills!

The flying bird of the day is a blackbird having a rest before a big night out on the tiles.

blackbird on tiles

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia who visited the the Toulouse-Lautrec museum in Albi and thought that possibly this advertising poster, commissioned from Toulouse-Lautrec in 1896 by the Simpson Chain Company, might possibly be of interest to me.  It was indeed.

Toulouse Lautrec poster

If you are interested there is more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simpson_Chain 

I had the intention of taking my new belt driven bicycle out for a spin after breakfast but what with one thing and another (things to do, cold northerly winds, lassitude, mental instability etc), I didn’t get out until midday.

I had a quick look at the garden in the morning…


…and couldn’t resist another look at the anemones, radiant in the sunshine.

I enjoyed watching a bee literally getting stuck into a rhododendron flower…

bee and tulip

…and admired the colour of the tulip.

When I finally got going, I chose a route which I hoped would see me battling the breeze on my way up to the county border above Eskdalemuir and then getting swooshed back down to Langholm with the wind behind me.

Alas, my calculation was out and I had a crosswind to annoy me in both directions.  However, it was a lovely sunny day and the cool north easterly breeze stopped me from cooking in the sunshine so “mustn’t grumble”.

It is quite a hilly route by my standards and I have to be careful of my tin* knee when going up steep hills so I was lucky to have my new gears working well today.  The new bike’s hub has a choice of really good low gears which let me get up the hills without putting too much strain on my legs and I enjoyed the journey up to the border at 1000 ft above sea level.

I snapped away as I went along.

It was a great day for wide views and closer looks.


wild flowers

This is the Esk at Bentpath.

Esk at bentpath

bluebells at bentpath

I saw a lot of orange tip butterflies on my way and even spent some time on the Shaw Rigg chasing up and down the road on foot trying to catch a male who kept stopping and then flitting onwards just before I got the camera into focus.  I had to settle for this shot of the female which annoyingly doesn’t have the orange tip to her wings.

female orange tip butterfly

Wherever I looked there were beautiful corners…

esk view

…prehistoric stone circles…

stone curcles

…and wide panoramas.

Upper esk valley

This one was looking up the upper Esk valley over Eskdalemuir to the hills behind.   Sharp eyed readers may spot a curious white tower in the middle distance.  I passed it later.

On a sunny day Eskdalemuir is uniformly lovely.

Upper esk valley

And this is the white tower a few miles north of Eskdalemuir village.

samye Ling
It is part of the Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist monastery which has a beautiful temple.  It is not the first thing that you might expect to see in the Scottish Borders but the community has been here for 50 years and is part and parcel of this part of the world now.

Leaving the monastery behind, I headed up the single track road to the county boundary.  It is one of my favourite sections of road as the records show that in five miles the gradient is so steady that you only lose 15 meters in the course of climbing 432 metres.

Road to Ettrick

The climb is gentle, the scenery delightful and the only fly in the ointment is the need to avoid the large and speedy timber lorries that come hurtling up and down the road.  Luckily they make such a noise that you get plenty of advance warning.

I stopped for a light lunch at an abandoned sheep fold in the forest at the top of the hill…

sheep fauld

…and was quite pleased not to be driving in a car on such narrow roads when log lorries were on the go.


The trip home wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked as the cross wind nagged and pestered and I had to keep a sharp eye out for the many potholes on the way.  This didn’t make for relaxed riding.

I chose a slightly different route for my return which  gave me other views, including the junction of the Black and White Esk rivers…

meeting of black and white esk

…and a new selection of wild flowers.

wild flowers

As I got near to Langholm, I saw a farmer rolling his grass pastures…

rolling the grass

..and reflected that I could do with a good roller for my lawns.

I took a last look round…

valley north of langholm

…and was grateful for a quirk in the wind which pushed me up the final climb and then down into the town.

I had only done just over 40 miles but with over 2000ft of climbing, it felt like quite a long ride and my average speed was very modest.  I don’t do many hilly rides so it was a pleasure to have managed one without taking any harm to my joints.

When I got in, Mrs Tootlepedal and I had a cup of tea on the new bench in the garden and I kept leaping up to photograph more flowers.

There were a lot to choose from.  They included a fine display of lilac blossom and the first sighting of a new yellow tulip, just out today…..

lilac and tulips

…as well the first of the white clematis on the wall round the back door, one of the few remaining daffodils and some of the very hardy grape hyacinths which have been out in frost, rain and sunshine for weeks.

hyacinth, daffodil and clematis

After a nourishing evening meal of corned beef hash, I went off to sing with our Langholm Choir.  For some reason the cycling had reduced my voice to the merest croak so I wasn’t much use but I was able to hit some impressively low notes.

The flying bird of the day was far too busy hitting some high notes of his own to be flying about.

blackbird singing

*Tin knee:  Actually it is likely that my new bike and my artificial knee are made of the same material, titanium.

Those interested can see details of my bike ride here.




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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my son Tony and shows one method that he came across of making sure that your dog doesn’t get  attacked by swans while walking at Lake Windermere.

dog walkingI was interested to find out how my various joints would feel this morning after my experiment with the instant sit down method yesterday.  Checking from top to bottom, my thumb was bruised and sore but usable,  my hip was painless, my knee was fine and my ankle was quite swollen and rather tricky to walk on,

This was much better than I had feared and some credit must go to a relaxing bath last night and some credit to having fairly healthy muscles in the leg.  The swollen ankle was periodically treated with a judicious mixture of gentle exercise and frozen peas and by the end of the day, it was almost as good as new.  I count myself very lucky, as I could have done a fair bit of damage.

The morning was spent going no further than the garden.  The ladies were in very good form.

Crown Princess Margareta

Crown Princess Margareta

Lilian Austin

Lilian Austin

As were the astrantias.


A general view of them today instead of the usual close up.

A yellow iris has come out to join the others.

yellow irisMy sore thumb made holding my heavy camera a bit of a problem but I still managed to catch a blackbird making off with some seed…

blackbird…and a goldfinch hiding behind the feeder pole.

goldfinchMrs Tootlepedal had been at a coffee morning for her church choir and we had lunch when she came back.  After some discussion it was agreed that both my leg and my sister Susan would benefit from an excursion so Mrs Tootlepedal drove us up to Eskdalemuir.  We stopped at The Hub where I checked the exhibition space and then we went on to visit the Samye Ling Tibetan centre a mile or two further up the road.

I was here recently on a bike trip but today I had time to walk around and really appreciate the place.  It is not in any way short of statutes.

Some are in ponds large and small…

Samye Ling…and some are in various vegetable gardens.

Samye LingThere is a wealth of decoration on everything that has a spare inch.

Samye LingSamye LingI enjoyed taking a close look at the figures round the base of the large gateway.

gateway Samye Linggateway Samye LingThe smaller pond with the figure in it has a dragon to pour the water in at one side and a golden boy to pour it out at the other.

Small pond same lingWe were interested to see that modern technology is part and parcel of the site.  We liked these electrically powered gently turning prayer wheels a lot.

Samye LingAs well as the buildings, some peaceful landscaping has been done.

Samye LingSamye LingThe monks are very energetic and it seems as though every time I visit, some new works have been started.  The swallows have also been building and there were several nests to be seen with busy parents flitting to and fro.

swallows Samye LingNear the car park, there were some striking purple flowers.  The looked like knapweed but not quite like the wild flowers you would expect.  The bees were enjoying the pollen.

knapweed  Samye LingWe stopped off at The Hub on our way back down and had a light refreshment and then dawdled back down the west bank of the river Esk to Enzieholm and thence home.

The afternoon sunshine made the drive as pleasurable as the visit to the  monastery and it was just the sort of quiet excursion to suit a man with a dodgy ankle and a sister who these days enjoys life in the slow lane.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we had another go at installing a mental metronome in his head.  We made progress from last week but it is not coming easily.  I will have to look closely at my teaching methods.  I can remember my younger son complaining to me some years ago.  He had a class of first year students to take when he was studying for his PhD and he told me that the students just wouldn’t learn properly.  “That’s easy enough, ” I replied.  “You are not teaching them properly then.”  He was much struck by this way of looking at things.

In the evening, my kind sister took us out for a meal.  The food was very good and what made the meal even better was the fact that we didn’t eat too much.

The flying bird of the day is a less stealthy goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my flute pupil Luke’s mother.  It shows an elderly cyclist visiting The Hub in Eskdalemuir.  This has  been converted to a meeting place and cafe from an old school where long ago he used to to teach on and off for a year.

old fellow at HubLuke’s mother is a member of our Langholm choir and when she told me that she works in Eskdalemuir at The Hub, I resolved to pay her a visit on the first decent cycling day.  That turned out to be today with a pleasant sun shining, a light wind blowing and the temperature just nudging 10°C.

I gave the temperature time to rise before setting off for the 12 mile trip to Eskdalemuir on the fairly speedy bike.  The last time that I was up this road, I nearly fell off when I hit a big pothole while riding behind Dropscone so I was very happy to find that it had been very nicely repaired when I passed it today.

There is  quite a long and steady climb on the way but I was happy to find that my legs had recovered well from Monday’s hilly ride and it presented no problem.  I arrived at The Hub to find Luke’s mum hard at work….

Sharon…having just dealt with a large party of foreign motorcyclists.

I was perfectly in time for a coffee which was both reasonably priced and of good quality.  I resolved to visit The Hub again and in fact, I did just that after I had ridden on until I reached the top of Eskdale, crossed the county boundary and cycled back down to the village again.

Although the road runs through quiet upland farms….

Eskdalemuir…and isn’t the busiest road in the world….

B709…it is not without interest.  Near the top of the valley, I passed a seismological station….

seismoloical station…which was built in 1962, fundamentally to detect nuclear testing explosions.  It has an array of sensors spread over the moor behind the station which collect the data.  A bit further back down the valley there is a meteorological observatory which also collects seismological data.

Near the top of the hill, a forester with strong conservation instincts has built a little artificial lochan which I visited today.

Over dalglieshThe two white dots in the picture are nesting swans as far as I can see but they were too far away for Pocketcam.  There is a lot of tree felling going on in the extensive forests in the area and I had to look sharp once or twice to avoid timber lorries which wait for no man (or woman) as they career down the narrow roads.

On my way back down to Eskdalemuir village, I stopped off at another remarkable place.  Stuck in the middle of this remote Scottish valley is a full scale Tibetan Monastery and Temple, Samye Ling.

It is quite a place.

Samye Ling

A stained glass window in the entrance to…..

Samye Ling

…the Temple courtyard

The site is under continuous development and in places has the air of one of those scrapyards where you go to find interesting pieces of architecture but the pieces here are very splendid.

Samye LingSamye Ling

Samye Ling

The stupa

Leaving Samye Ling, I got back to The Hub…

The Hub…and had another cup of the good coffee and a freshly baked pain au chocolat to go with it.

It is very comfortable, with sofas as well as chairs and tables….

The Hub…but I sat at a table which had original school chairs at it for old times sake.

By coincidence another cyclist arrived.  He was doing a circular tour from Moffat and we had an interesting chat before we went our separate ways.

I went home down the other side of the river to the one I came up and as the sun had gone behind clouds and the wind was against me, I nearly took the quickest way home from Bailliehill.  My legs were feeling pretty cheery though so I took a diversion to Paddockhole and came back along the familiar Wauchope road over Callister.  I was a bit annoyed to find that I had misjudged the wind direction and as a result, it blew into my face for the last ten miles.

At 50 miles, the ride was the same length as the sportive on Monday had been and like the sportive, it had seven classified climbs along the way but it had nothing as steep as one of the climbs on Monday and they must have been less taxing as I managed a slightly better average speed for the trip.  I had a longer break in the middle today too which might have helped.

When I got home,  Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden planting out vegetables.  She is a bit behind on her garden schedule because of the tidying up after the building works but she is making up for lost time now.   I had a little time to stare out of the window.

Two chaffinches

Two chaffinches discussing the surprise result of the election


And another one just thinking about stuff.

I got the scarifier and a mower out and began work on the front lawn.  I had done the whole of the middle lawn yesterday and removed a lot of moss but the moss in the front lawn is even worse.  We are going to try to make part of the front lawn into a meadow so I worked on the bits that are going to be grassy paths through the meadow today.  It is hard work and I was secretly rather pleased when it started to rain and I had to stop.

In the evening, we were visited by Mike and Alison who have got safely back from New Zealand where they had been entertained by two granddaughters and an earthquake large enough to make the lawn upon which Alison was sitting rise and fall so much that she felt as though she was in a boat at sea.

It hadn’t affected her musical skills though and we enjoyed getting back to playing our Friday evening sonatas.

I didn’t have much time to catch a flying bird or indeed much strength to hold the camera up for long and the light went soon after I got home from cycling so this is the best flying bird that I could manage.  Sorry.

chaffinchNote: As I pedalled along in upper Eskdale today, I was joined by Stewart Pool for a while.  He was just stretching his legs as he is entered with several other Langholm cyclists in the Fred Whitton Challenge on Sunday.  The Fred Whitton Challenge consists of a 112 mile sportive around the Lake District, starting at Grasmere and taking in climbs of Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott & Wrynose passes and makes my cycle ride today look like a walk in the park.  Hats off to him and his friends.

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Today’s picture is just to prove that there is a tiny bit of colour in the garden even it is rather biassed towards blue.

garden flowers

There was not much colour as Dropscone and I cycled round the morning run but it is slowly getting a bit warmer and today the wind was in a kinder direction so we didn’t mind too much.  Dropscone had noticed a good show of daffodils near Canonbie which had cheered him up.  I was feeling a lot better than in recent days and with the favourable wind, we zipped round the circular ride much faster than I have managed for ages.  We munched on our scones in mellow mood.

The garden bird scene has not altered yet and the feeder is as busy as ever.  The waiting room in the plum tree was busy too.


And the siskins were still in fighting mood.

chaffinch and siskin

I had to go to our corner shop for some bacon and on the way back, I checked up on our local ducks.


Duck pilates

A siskin was on the feeder when I came back into the garden and wasn’t going to let me interrupt his seed eating.


A blackbird equally stood its ground.


Siskins and blackbirds are the least likely of our garden birds to move off when I come near them.

I made myself a nourishing pot of lentil soup for my lunch and then I went and picked up Sandy and we set off on another circular tour, this time by car.  As usual, we were hoping to catch a photo opportunity or two as we went.  In spite of the fact that we drove through scenic countryside on quiet back roads for the most part, the weather was hazy, the sun remained behind the clouds and the country was washed out as far as colour goes so good shots were hard to find.

We took a picture or two of one of the prehistoric stone circles that we passed on our way to Eskdalemuir.

The Loupin Stanes

The Loupin Stanes, so called because brave young people leapt between the two biggest of them in more modern times.

This was the view of Eskdale vanishing into the haze from the same spot.

Upper Eskdale

We stopped the other side of Eskdalemuir to marvel at the striking juxtaposition of Scottish scenery and Tibetan religious architecture at the Samye Ling monastery.


This is a stupa I am told.

Front gate

This is the ornate front gate

And this is Buddha meditating under the protection of Mucalinda.


There is a very highly decorated temple on the site but we didn’t visit it today.  We drove on up into the hills and crossed the county boundary at 1000ft before descending to Ettrick.

Although the scenery is beautiful, the washed out colour didn’t tempt us to stop and we turned off at Tushielaw and continued on the road to Hawick before a small bridge caught our eye.

Bridge on B711

Now we were climbing again and this was the road behind us.


I love these unfenced hill roads.

Our main target was the Alemoor reservoir, where we were hoping for a good selection of bird life to watch.  Our first sight of the water was encouraging with a heron flying lazily off as we approached…


…but further inspection only provided us with a pair of coots and two swans…


One of the swans

…and two mallards which immediately flew off.


…and that was it.

The road crosses a bridge through the middle of the reservoir so we pressed on to see of the other half would be more productive…

looking south from the bridge

Looking south from the bridge.  Not a bird in sight.

Looking north from the bridge

Looking north from the bridge. Still nothing doing.

The weather was grey and the day wasn’t quite warm enough to tempt us to stay very long so we drove on down towards Hawick until we were stopped by a traffic lights at the bridge over the River Teviot just before we joined the main road back to Langholm.  A vast construction greeted us.

Bridge tunnel

They have built a tunnel over the bridge.  They are going to work on the bridge and the road that we were on will be closed for a time.  This will be massively inconvenient for the residents along the road so they are obviously ensuring that the work on the bridge won’t be interrupted by bad weather.

Once across the bridge, we headed for home having enjoyed our tour but rather disappointed that it hadn’t yielded better photographs.

In the evening, I went to the church where Mrs Tootlepedal and her choir were rehearsing for their concert tomorrow.  I was there to check that there would be room for our recorder group to play.  This was satisfactorily resolved and I went off to join Sandy in the Archive Centre.  Here we went round in circles again as we had the greatest difficulty in getting both computers connected to the internet and thus a good deal less work was done than should have been.  We went to console ourselves with a drink in the Eskdale only to find that our beer of choice was not available.  This rounded off a day that had started very well but which had gone gently downhill since then.

A chaffinch duly takes it place as flying bird of the day.





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