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Posts Tagged ‘St Mary’s Loch’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  The seals have returned to East Wemyss.

more seals

We had another frosty morning here but it wasn’t hard enough to any harm and the upside was another sunny day to follow.  The sunshine led to a lot a photographs being taken, too many of which appear in this post….but it was a lovely day.

The bees have been encouraged by seeing me pollinating the plum blossom and have started in on the job themselves.

bee on plum blossom

Mrs Tootlepedal showed me a willow twig which she had stuck into the ground and which is doing what willows do and growing vigorously.  Nearby the last of the daffodils is coming into flower.

willow and daffodil

Sandy came round for coffee and Mrs Tootlepedal and I arranged to go on an outing with him to make the best of the sunny day. He went home to get organised and I had time to mow the front lawn and watch the birds squabble…

siskins shouting

…and get very up close and personal…

goldfinch embracing siskin

…before we went round to the garage to put petrol in the car and then to pick Sandy up.

We needed the fuel because we had a grand tour in mind, starting by driving north to Eskdalemuir.

Upper Eskdale can be a severe place to live in winter but on a lovely spring morning, it bears a marked resemblance to Shangri-La

Upper eskdale

We stopped at The Hub, a community centre in the old school in the village, for a light lunch and we took the chance while we were there to arrange a date later in the year for a camera club exhibition.

Then we continued north, crossing the county boundary and driving down into the Ettrick valley.  It is a picturesque but narrow road and we were lucky that we had parked to enjoy the scenery when this large log lorry whizzed by.

Road to Ettrick

We turned left at Tushielaw and followed the trail of the lonesome pine…

Road to Gordon Arms

…over the hill and down into the Yarrow valley.  There we turned west and headed for St St Mary’s Loch, a beautiful sight at any time but particularly so when the weather is fine.

St Mary's Loch first sight

At the far end of the Loch, which is three miles long, a small bridge crosses the very short stream…

Bridge between St Mary's Loch and Loch o the Lowes

…which flows between St Mary’s Loch and the Loch o’ the Lowes…

Loch o' the Lowes

…where we parked the car and went for a little walk.

We crossed the bridge between the lochs and walked past fine pine trees…

St Mary's Loch pines

…until we came to the track along the south shore of St Mary’s Loch.

St Mary's Loch reflections (4)

We stopped for some moments of reflection…

St Mary's Loch reflections (3)St Mary's Loch reflections (2)St Mary's Loch reflections

…and then headed along the shore towards a wood we could see about half a mile away.

St Mary's Loch view (2)

The loch sits in a bowl surrounded by fine hills.

St Mary's Loch view

As we walked along, we were serenaded by oyster catchers.

oyster catchers St Mary's Loch

Sandy and I walked along a track across sheep cropped grass while Mrs Tootlepedal chose the pebbly shore…

Mrs T at St Mary's Loch

…but she called us down to the waterside to see a strange phenomenon.  Every rock and stone under the water at the edge of the loch was covered in bubbles.

St Mary's Loch bubbles

We had never seen anything like this and wondered whether it was small plants or algae on the rocks ‘breathing out’.  There was no smell so it didn’t seem as though it might be decaying vegetable matter.  We would welcome suggestions from anyone who might have come across this before.

Leaving the bubbly rocks, we walked on towards the wood…

St Mary's Loch wood

…admiring a fine house on the other side of the water.

Big house St Mary's Loch

An information board in the wood told us that it was ‘The March Wood’, and described it as ‘a magical place’.

We didn’t disagree.

March wood St Mary's Loch (4)

March wood St Mary's Loch (3)

It had a rich history connected with William Wallace and royal hunts among other things and it was no hardship to spend a few peaceful minutes there..

March wood St Mary's Loch (2)

Someone is taking care of the wood and new trees are being planted.

March wood St Mary's Loch

We walked back to the yacht club at the head of the loch…

St Mary's Loch yacht club jetty

…and on the way Mrs Tootlepedal enjoyed a hearty laugh when a well-intentioned stranger leapt up from a bench where he was sitting and asked me if I need a helping hand as I climbed over a stile.  I didn’t realise that I looked that bad.

As we stood and chatted, a pair of spirited canoeists passed us as great speed.

canoeists

We moved on and said goodbye to the loch…

farewell to St mary's Loch

…as we went up to examine the impressive statue of  James Hogg, who lived from 1770 to 1835. Commonly referred to as The Ettrick Shepherd, he was a poet and novelist who wrote in both Scots and English and who became one of the most unlikely literary figures ever to emerge from Scotland.

Poet's monument

The monument was unveiled on 28 June 1860 in front of a crowd of 2000 people who had gathered for the event.

What makes it especially interesting to us is that it was made from a single block of sandstone cut from the quarry on Whita Hill above Langholm.  The block was so big that the whole town turned out to watch it being brought down off the hill by cart.

Leaving the loch and the monument, we kept going westward and descended the steep hill down towards Moffat…

Moffat Water valley

…passing the Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall on our way.  We thought of stopping there too but the call of a cup of tea and a toasted teacake in Moffat was too strong to resist and we headed on with pausing.

The tea and teacake were just what we wanted and gave us strength for the journey home (after we had visited the garden centre in the middle of the town). The final stage of our tour was a dull but speedy affair involving the motorway.  After sixty miles on narrow and twisting roads, the dullness was very acceptable.

The whole trip was just under 100 miles and was a pretty good way to spend an afternoon.  I notice that Sandy has put an account of the trip on his blog and if you have a moment, I can recommend a visit as he has taken some very nice pictures of our day indeed (better than mine).  You can find his story here.

The flying bird of the day is a resident chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture, taken by Bruce’s daughter and forwarded to me by him, shows Guthrie, having woken up, wondering where the next meal is coming from.

GuthrieWe were up promptly in the morning but got away a few minutes behind schedule on a trip to Lockerbie.  This time we were not catching the train to Edinburgh to see Matilda but going to a hotel in the town to meet Venetia.  Venetia is a long standing friend of my sister Mary and having been to a symposium in Newcastle, she was taking the opportunity of having come so far north in England to go a little further and meet us and have a tour of our part of southern Scotland.

I was delighted to meet her as she is a frequent commenter on the blog and has sent me several guest pictures of the day.

She was waiting patiently for us when we arrived and she was soon ensconced in our car as we headed off north to Moffat, our first stop.  There we had coffee, did a little shopping, admired the Moffat Ram…

Moffat Ram…and set off out  of the town to visit the Devil’s Beef Tub.  The Devil’s Beef Tub is a dramatic hollow among the hills north of the town where the Johnstones (“The Devils” to their enemies) would hide their cattle in Border Reiving days.  It was described by Sir Walter Scott in these terms:  “It looks as if four hills were laying their heads together, to shut out daylight from the dark hollow space between them. A damned deep, black, blackguard-looking abyss of a hole it is.”

It didn’t look quite so dramatic to us today in spite of some gloomy weather but it is an impressive hollow.

Devil's Beef TubWe rolled back down the hill into the town and then drove out on the Selkirk road.  This gave Venetia her first taste of the delights of log lorries on narrow roads as we followed three of them, having to stop every time we met a car coming the other way.  We finally got to our next port of call, the Grey Mare’s Tail.

This is the name given to a fine waterfall which drops over side of the valley from Loch Skene above.

Grey Mare's tailThere are footpaths both to the top or the bottom of the falls and Venetia and Mrs Tootlepedal took the path to the bottom.  I took a picture of them on their return which which shows the scale of the waterfall.

Grey Mare's tailMy knee felt better today but while they braved the narrow and steep path, I cautiously (sensibly) stayed near the car park finding interesting things to look at.

purple flowers

The banks of the stream were carpeted with these flowers, a bit more purple in real life than in the picture.

lichens

The moist weather meant that the lichens were very striking

I looked back down the valley up which we had driven and I could see the typical U shape which shows that it has been scoured out by ice in times past.

Grey Mare's tail valleyBecause it falls into such a narrow gorge, it is hard to get a good picture of the whole waterfall without going along paths which are too steep and narrow for me now.

We left the falls and continued along the Selkirk road to what should have been the most beautiful destination of our trip, The Loch of the Lowes and St Mary’s Loch.  On a sunny day this is an idyllic place to be.  It was far from sunny by the time that we got there…

Loch of the Lowes…and although it was still a pleasant spot…

Loch of the Lowes…the many spots of rain didn’t encourage us to linger so we drove on, until by turning south at the end of St Mary’s Loch, we came across the hills to Eskdalemuir where we had lunch at the Hub.  We stayed long enough for Venetia to see our photo exhibition and then continued south until we arrived at Langholm, in sunshine at last, and there we had a tour of the garden,,,,

strawberry and rose

The ornamental pink strawberry and Crown Princess Margareta enjoying a dry spell at last

poppy and campanula

A poppy and a campanula showing that white can make a statement

phlox and rambler rose

A pink phlox and a potential rambler rose

….and a restful sit down.

A crime had been committed in the garden and we were able to catch the culprit red beaked….

blackbird with strawberryIt went off saying, “Who? Me?” but I don’t grudge a strawberry here and there as I have had plenty.

We didn’t sit for long though and we were soon back in the car for a further tour.  This took us up the A7 and across to Hermitage Castle…

Hermitage castle…a favourite spot to visit for us.  On this occasion, we were rather late and the castle was so strongly defended by an uncooperative attendant that we gave up hope of walking round it (although it didn’t officially close for another twenty minutes) and took some pictures of wild flowers beside the path…

Harebell and orchid

Harebells and yet another orchid

…before continuing our drive to Newcastleton.  From there, we came back across the hill to Langholm, stopping to watch a hen harrier quartering the moor on our way.

While we were parked, Venetia’s sharp eye noticed this fine thistle.

thistleApart from the sights we saw when we stopped, the whole drive was through lovely countryside and we hope that Venetia who lives in Glastonbury in Somerset, a famous beauty spot, got a good impression of this part of the world in spite of the generally grey weather.

We went out for a meal at the Douglas in the evening and then Mrs Tootlepedal kindly relieved me from my role as chauffeur and drove Venetia back to Lockerbie.  It has been a great pleasure to meet her.

Amidst all this excitement, catching a flying bird was a bit of a sideline and this was the best that I could do.

flying sparrow

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