Posts Tagged ‘Solway shore’

Today’s guest picture is the last that I have at present from my siblings’ visit to Barcelona.  My brother likes museums and art galleries.  This is the Catalan Museum.

Catalan Museum

The forecast was quite promising, the main features being no rain and very light winds so I was looking forward to a decent pedal.  The light winds meant that temperatures were too low to start pedalling after breakfast so I spent a little time peering out of the window at the mist filled garden.

ringed chaffinch

I was interested to see a ring on the chaffinch, the first I have noticed for some time.

I kept an eye on the thermometer and got quite excited when it hit four degrees C but less so when it it subsequently dropped back to 3 degrees.  I considered my options.

chaffinch considering options

A chaffinch meanwhile considered his.

Finally, the thermometer edged back to 3.9 so I piled on as many clothes as I could wear and still cycle and set off up the Wauchope road after a quick stop to buy some fuel for the journey from John’s shop.

First signs were a bit gloomy…

wauchope in mist

…but I pedalled on hopefully, turning left over the hill and eventually getting onto the Annan road.  I stopped in Annan after 22 miles for a cheese toastie and a cappucino and then headed out to the road along the Solway shore.  By this time, the mist had gone and the sky was blue.  It was still chilly but the splendid row of very out of character houses at Cummertrees looked at their best.


I quote from the Dumfriesshire Companion of Haig Gordon:

There were brash new beginnings at Kinmount when the Yorkshire businessman Edward Brook took over the estate in the 1890s (adding it to his other big acquisition, Hoddom estate near Ecclefechan). He had plans for creating a vast seaside resort between Cummertrees and Powfoot. The scheme never took off but at the east end of the village a flavour of what he had envisaged remains in Queensberry Terrace, a row of properties originally intended as holiday apartments – ‘like a cross between Blackpool and Chelsea’, commented one architectural historian.

Anyone who has seen the mud flats along the Solway shore at Powfoot will not have to think hard as to why this grandiose scheme failed.

I was soon through Cummertrees and Ruthwell and looking across the flat fields towards Criffel and the mist covered Nith Estuary.


The skies are big here.

I paused for a moment at the Brow Well…

Brow Well

…a not very appetising looking mineral spring.  It has a claim to fame though as a notice suggests.

brow well

The notice doesn’t add that the poet died shortly after his visit.  He drank the chalybeate waters and was dunked in the icy Solway near here in an attempt to cure his misdiagnosed gout.  I prefer the pills I get for my rheumatic arthritis and feel thankful in this case for the march of medical science.

I enjoyed a little bridge beside the well.

Brow well bridge

This stretch of road is genuinely flat and a great pleasure to pedal along.  My target was the small village of Bankend…


…where, in spite of the lovely day,  the bridge had a lot of water flowing under it.  This is the Lochar Water.

Bankend bridge

I would have to liked to have my long lens with me as there was an interesting tower a few hundred yards up stream.

Bankend tower

Isle Tower is an early 17th century stone T-plan tower house, founded by Edward Maxwell of Isle.

I turned for home at Bankend as the days are still quite short and I didn’t want to be caught in the gloaming still pedalling.

As well as big sky, the Solway shore had some big puddles in the roadside fields as well.  This was the biggest of the day.


You can just see the real sea in the background.

I stopped at Ruthwell to eat my fuel from John’s shop, an egg roll, a banana and a very sticky tray bake.  There was a convenient bench there but it had been designed by someone with very short legs and I kept banging my chin as I ate.


Leaving Ruthwell, I pedalled on tiny back roads down to the shore at Powfoot.  The last time Mrs Tootlepdal and I had been here, a very high tide and angry seas were threatening to overwhelm the car park. Today it was playing host to a group of keen bird watchers.

bird watchers

Once back through Annan, I took the road to Gretna and enjoyed the last of my food on a bench opposite the Old Blacksmith’s Shop at Gretna Green.

Gretna Green

This is just one of three marriage rooms in Gretna and marriage is big business there.  It was the nearest place to the border where English couples could get married under Scottish law and was popular as a destination for eloping youngsters.  Mysteriously, to me at any rate, it remains seriously popular still and is a bus tour destination.

My literal mind looked at the sign on the side of the blacksmith’s shop….

Gretna Green

…and wondered what colour it had been before 1754.

From Gretna, I took a winding trail that led me down to Canonbie and a return to Langholm by the morning run cycle route.

The sky had clouded over by the time that I got home and the temperature was still only a meagre 6 degrees but the light winds had meant that I had enjoyed a very good day out on the bike.   Details of the ride may be found  by clicking on the map.

garmin route 28 Feb 2014

Not by coincidence but by design, my Garmin device recorded exactly 72 miles as I reached my house.  This corresponds with my age and it is my intention in future years to keep cycling at least once a year as far as I am old for as long as possible.

The ride brought my total for February up to 500 miles which is well above target and gives me a little leeway in the month to come.

Mike and Alison, Maisie’s and Frances’ grandparents have arrived back from New Zealand and came round for their customary Friday evening visit.   I enjoyed playing some sonatas on flute and recorder with Alison at the keyboard while Mrs Tootlepedal heard from Mike of their adventures down under.  I hope to have some photos of their trip, which included a visit to Singapore, in future posts.

I did just manage to get a flying bird picture in the morning mist before I left the house.

flying chaffinch




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Today’s picture is another from my brother.  It shows the Erewash canal running through Long Eaton beside a road.  I think that it gives the place a continental feel.

Erewash Canal

Our B&B guests were on the road early but I rose late.  Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir and I idled about, occasionally looking out of the window.


Chaffinches were heaped up outside

blue tit

A blue tit looked for a spare seat.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from church and shortly afterwards Dropscone appeared bearing some eponymous drop scones.  He had been round the morning run and got a soaking on the way for his trouble.  His drop scones went down very well with a cup or two of Kenyan coffee.  He has a permanently dodgy ankle for which he wears a support and as you always have to buy a pair even though you only need one, he brought round his unused support to see if I would find it useful.  This was a kind thought and would perhaps have been useful if he and I didn’t both have the dodgy ankle on our left leg.

We have a glut of broad beans at present so Dropscone went away clutching a bagful, plotting to hide them in some flavourful dish so that those at home wouldn’t know what they were eating.

When Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I took a turn round the garden.

The sun came out and a marigold responded.



The biggest cosmos flower in the garden

We have got a large number of white butterflies flitting round the garden at present.  I saw this one on a cosmos and was surprised that it could seemingly fly quite normally even with a damaged wing.


In the back border, a lone iris is blooming long after the others have gone.


There are more bees than ever about.  This one was enjoying the white phlox.


I made a bowl of bean soup with some more of the  bean glut and it turned out very well.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I ate the bean soup for our lunch, accompanied by some sour dough bread and goat’s cheese.   (The advances in culinary skills over the past 200 years mean nothing to us.)

After lunch, we set out for a large garden centre to the west of Carlisle as Mrs Tootlepedal was hoping to add some more colourful phlox to the garden display.  Sadly, there was no phlox to be had when we got there (not even for ready money) and we left disappointed.

To cheer ourselves up, we headed for the Solway shore near Brough by Sands.


Looking across the firth to the Dumfriesshire hills

Behind us the weather looked very threatening.

threatening weatherWe went into Brough and headed out towards the salt marsh to visit a monument erected to mark the spot where Edward the First, King of England, died of dysentery on his way to invade Scotland in 1307.

We parked the car and with a nervous look at the black clouds behind us, walked down a lane towards the monument.

lying sheep

The fact that the sheep in the field beside the lane had all keeled over didn’t give us much confidence that we were going to avoid getting wet but we plugged on.

The monument is bigger than it looked from a distance.

King Edward monument

History might have been different if Edward hadn’t died here.  His son came north to teach the Scots a lesson some years later and got a thorough thrashing at Bannockburn.

There is an inscription on the monument:

edward monument inscription

This is a metal copy of the original inscription carved into the stones of the monument.  I am hoping that my sister Mary will provide a translation for me as she is a Latin scholar.

The sky was still very dark behind us but we got back to the car in sunshine.

monument at Brough

Even the sheep had stood up

We passed a field of barley on our way.


It is very densely planted as you can see and by coincidence I heard a framer on the TV later in the evening saying that this close planting helps to keep weeds under control.  There must have been insects about as a small flock of swallows were sweeping low across the crop.


The bad weather seemed to have passed us by and headed for Carlisle.

bad weather

We met a cyclist who was sitting admiring the view at the top of the lane and he told us that he had rung home to find that a downpour had hit Carlisle and caused the drains there to flood, so we had been very lucky.

We got home, still in fine weather, and after a while decided to go for a short cycle ride to see if we could get a picture of the bridge that isn’t there.

I put on my new cycling glasses…


…and they went satisfyingly dark in the bright sunshine.    However this was not of much use because by the time we had got three miles up the road, it had started to rain and things were looking very gloomy so we cut our losses and raced back home with a strong wind behind us.  The glasses seemed to do the required job as I could see where I was going and read my bike computer.  I hope for a longer test soon.

My ankle stood up to the light workout well and weather permitting, I shall go out again tomorrow.

A flying chaffinch ends this post.

flying chaffinch






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