Today’s guest picture comes from Mike Tinker. He was in Oban on the west coast of Scotland when he saw this fine sunset.
We had some very welcome sunshine here today but the price to pay for it was a frosty morning and this in turn put paid to any idea of having a cycle ride in the sun.
I stepped out into the garden to see what was about and was pleased to see that a very shiny starling was toeing the line.
The sunshine brought strong shadows over the seed feeder so taking pictures of birds there was hard work but a blue tit visited the fat balls which are hanging on the lighter side.
On the other side, Zorro the chaffinch was my only shot of note.
I idled the morning away, reading papers, doing the crossword and lending Mrs Tootlepedal a hand for a few minutes as she papered the ceiling in the stairwell and upper landing. Papering round a trapdoor in the ceiling, a velux window on the slope and a light fitting in between needs a very skilled operator and more than two hands at the trickiest moment.
I finally got my mojo going (rather gently) and went out for a walk to see what I could see. I was hoping for a dipper, some hair ice and some good exercise.
My walk had a bright start. The snowdrops beside the dam at the back of the house get lots of sun when it is out and in response, they had come out too.
As I walked along the Esk to the Kilngreen, all was quiet with hardly a bird to be seen. At the Kilngreen the gulls were playing leapfrog along the fence posts…
….but this reflective character in the Ewes took my fancy.
There was rich colour in the moss on the wall opposite the Buccleuch Estates yard….
….and a cone developing on the Noble Fir beside the new path on the Castleholm.
I kept an eye (and an ear) out for dippers as I crossed the Jubilee Bridge and saw one on a rock a little way upstream. It was too far away for a good shot and it meanly flew off when I scrambled down the bank to get closer. I walked along Eskdaill Street and up to Pool Corner in the hope of seeing another dipper there. I was in luck. It was a good way off too.
The dippers in the Esk and the Wauchope
On this occasion, the bird was kinder and hopped up onto a branch to give me a closer shot.
It was just a pity that the sun didn’t penetrate to this gloomy spot.
I walked on towards the Auld Stane Brig and then along Gaskell’s Walk, passing the intricate patterns of a retired rosebay willowherb ….
…and some brilliantly frost decorated moss on a wall beside the road.
I was justified in thinking that this might be a day to find hair ice….
…and there were quite a few examples beside the path.
Although in the sun, it was pleasantly warm for a walk, anything in the shade was still frozen.
It was such a nice day that when I got to the Stubholm, I decided to walk onwards to the Murtholm and Skippers Bridge. A patch on a tree beside the track made me think of script lichen but when I took a closer look….
…I was a bit confused. It does look as though there is some script lichen in there but there is other stuff too with the result that it looks more like hieroglyphic lichen than anything else. (I made that up before anyone asks.) Perhaps a knowledgeable reader can help me out.
On my way to Skippers, I passed a blue collar sheep, perhaps reflecting on recent political developments.
It was a lovely day.
The scaffolding at the bridge didn’t seem to have got much farther so I didn’t linger but the steps up from the road just beyond the bridge looked so inviting….
…that I walked up them and on to the old railway track.
This was once a branch line which connected Langholm to the Carlisle to Edinburgh ‘Waverley Line’. Such has been the success of the re-opened northern section of the line from Galashiels to Edinburgh that hopeful people are now campaigning for an extension of the line all the way to Carlisle with an alteration of the route to take it directly through Langholm. I think that they might have to do a lot of hoping.
The walk up the steps and along the railway was rewarded by a delightful path up through the old wood to the Round House.
Sheer poetry on such a day.
After that, the journey back to the town was more prosaic, especially as it involved a visit to the Co-op to get something for our tea.
All in all though, it was an excellent walk and I was surprised to see when I got home that my mapping program told me that it was comfortably over five miles. So I got my dippers, my ice hair and some good exercise…..and some tasty baked potatoes for tea.
A win, win, win, win situation.
By the time that I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had successfully completed papering the stairwell and we both felt it was time for a cup of tea and a sit down.
The flying bird of the day is a lone gull who gave me a fly past.
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