Posts Tagged ‘Steven’s Croft’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who extended her permitted walk as far as Regents Park where she enjoyed the rose garden.

Rose garden regents park

We had a warm and sunny day today with light winds.  Days like this are to be treasured.

The star in the garden was the first peony, beating the tree peony easily.

first peony

A lot of our ferns suffered badly in the frost but some of them have shrugged it off and are doing very well.

ferns after frost

I saw an orange tip buttefly in the garden but it flew off leaving me to watch this white butterfly on the sweet rocket instead.

butterfly on sweet rocket

After the rain, the garden is looking quite healthy but there is a notable gap in the far corner which should be glowing with rhododendron flowers.

no azaleas

All the same, there is colour to be found, so we are not crying too much.

four garden pictures

You have to look hard to spot this camassia though as it has got itself hidden behind taller plants.


The final remaining set of tulips looks set to last for ever.


The garage clematis is getting more flowers out every day and will soon be in full bloom.

garage clematis

Partly because I thought that it was Thursday (a lockdown category error that is quite common) and partly through natural indolence, I didn’t get my bike out to make full use of the good day until after Mrs Tootlepedal had gone out to her street coffee morning.

However, once I got going, I enjoyed myself a lot.

It was a perfect day for a pedal…

road at enzieholm

…and instead of my usual little circle starting up the Wauchope valley, I headed up Eskdale today, crossed the Black Esk by this bridge…

tanlawhill brodge

…which is one of my favourites, not because of the beauty of the structure but because of its placing in the surrounding landscape.

Once over the bridge, I followed the White Esk through Castle O’er and up to Eskdalemuir.

Like the bridge, this little road is one of my favourites too with interesting verges (the butterfly would not give me a side view….

butterfly head on

…and some lovely woods.

wood at tanlawhill

When  I got to Eskdalemuir, I climbed a stiff hill out of the valley of the White Esk towards the valley of the Black Esk.

The climb lasts for a mile and goes up just under 300 feet.  You get good views back as you climb out of the valley, but the camera does not do justice to the amount of puffing I had to put in to get the view in my opinion.

hill out of E'muir

T was heading towards Lockerbie and passing through timber country.  The forests here grow, get cut down and grow again at a dizzying pace.  I was passed by a dozen timber wagons going to and fro.  It is a highly organised and mechanised business these days.

cut timber

Having crossed the Black Esk, I got a welcome spell of downhill as I descended into the  valley of the Dryfe Water which is cattle country.

old hedge

I expect that many if not all the loaded timber lorries were heading for the huge timber yards at Steven’s Croft where I passed the country’s biggest wood burning stove.

stevens croft

Once I hit the old main road at the power station, I turned south and headed for Gretna, passing this fine lake of buttercups outside Lockerbie on my way…

pool of buttecups lockerbie

…and stopping to admire the motorway bridge over the Water Of Milk from the bridge on the old road.

motorway bridge

Peering into the shadows under the bridge, I could see extensive works, designed perhaps to let fish go up stream over a weir.  Today there was hardly enough water coming down to cater for a tadpole.

under the motorway bridge

The cycling was now pretty flat, which was a relief to my knees and I stopped from time to time to admire flowers by the road.  The red tree on the right of the panel is a red horse chestnut, I think.

rhodie, umbellifer and red chestnut

I had an interesting route mapped out in my mind for the English section of my trip when I had passed through Gretna going south, but it dawned on me as I pedalled along that the bridge at Longtown (my proposed homeward route) was shut to all traffic as it is undergoing repairs.  I wondered if it would be open to a pedestrian pushing his bike but decided not risk it, and rather tamely circled round and cycled back up to Gretna again before approaching Longtown on the north side of the bridge.

The old gravel pond there, with a fine hawthorn on its bank, looked positively Mediterranean today.

hawthorn Longtown pond

By this time, my knees were getting slightly mutinous and home and a nice sit down came into their conversation quite a lot, so I stopped taking pictures and concentrated on knocking off the final fifteen miles of route with as smooth a pedalling style as I could muster.

It has been my ambition in recent years to have at least one cycle outing each year that covers as many miles as I have had birthday.  I was born in November 1941 and my route covered exactly 80 miles today, leaving me with a couple of bonus miles in hand.

I got home in time to enjoy an evening meal of liver cooked with carrots and spinach from the garden, provided by the industrious Mrs Tootlepedal.  She had been busy in the garden while I was out.

It was a warm day today but one of the joys of cycling is that you provide your own cooling breeze as you go along and I found it very comfortable.  All the same, I lost four pounds on the jaunt in spite of eating three bananas, a satsuma, a small honey sandwich, several dates and some guava jelly.  I drank about 900ml of water too.   In normal circumstances, I would have organised a stop half way round to enjoy egg and chips at a cafe or pub on a ride of that length.

I didn’t have much time to watch the birds but a very obliging sparrow flew into shot as I was going for my shower.  It is the flying bird of the day.

flying sparrow

I append the map of the ride.  I carefully organised all the climbing at the start of the route!

garmin route 20 May 2020

Those interested can click on the pic for more details.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who has been in Glasgow getting a knee checked out.  He took the opportunity to sample the Glasgow underground train service, popularly known as the ‘Clockwork Orange’.

Glasgow underground

We woke to a beautiful sunny morning today but the late September downside was in evidence in the form of a layer of ice on the car window with the temperature at 2°C.  That was too cold for me to go cycling as I have already had one bad experience with a patch of ice on a sunny day this and I definitely don’t want another.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a fund raising coffee morning with friends and I hung about until the temperature hit 5°, finally getting going a bit later than was intended.

The wait was worth it though as it was a perfect morning for cycling, with light winds and hardly a cloud in the sky.

Callister road new lines

The newly surfaced road at Callister has got a sparkling fresh white line and was looking at its best.

I cycled through Gair and Eaglesfield and joined the old A74, going north through Ecclefechan…


..which is notable both as the birthplace of Thomas Carlyle, the sage of Ecclefechan, and the home of the world famous Ecclefechan Tart.

I kept going north until I passed the biggest wood burning stove in Dumfriesshire…

Wood burning power station

…where I turned west to cross the River Annan, passing the delightful Applegarth Church…

Applegarth Church

…and a charming cottage with its own clock tower at Millhousebridge just before I crossed the river.


I must say that if I had a clock tower on my house, I would keep the clock running on time.

Once over the river, I turned south and had a stop for a roll and a banana beside the Mill Loch in Lochmaben.

Mill Loch Lochmaben

I found a bench in a sheltered spot beside the loch…


…and ate my roll beside Weigela and Himalayan balsam flowers.

wiegela and balasam

I pedalled on southwards  to the little village of Dalton where they had a really good idea in 2000….

Dalton handprints

…though the tiles are getting a bit discoloured with age.

My tour continued as I passed beneath the Repentance Tower at Hoddom…

Repentance Tower

…and then I followed the course of the river Annan down to the town of Annan.

Having crossed the fine bridge there, I was blown home by a friendly wind, stopping only to admire a fireless engine at the Devil’s Porridge museum at Eastriggs….

Fireless engine Eastriggs

A fireless engine is a very good idea in a large munitions factory.

…and an even larger quantity of migrating geese than last time in a field near the border..

geese in field

The noise was ferocious.

…with a few swans  keeping themselves to themselves at the other end of the field.

swans in field

Those interested may find further details of the ride by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 28 Sept 2018

The skies clouded over for the last part of the ride and I was glad to have been well wrapped up to counter the chill at the beginning of the outing. I was able to shed a few layers as I went round though.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy day with the coffee morning followed by some serious gardening in the afternoon.  This involved a lot of digging as part of the new plan for the top of the vegetable garden.

After a cup of tea and a look at the feeder, which I had to fill as it had obviously been busy during the day…

busy feeder

..I went out to inspect the works and take a picture or two of things that had survived the chilly morning.

floodlit fuchsia

The fuchsias continue to shine.

triple special grandma

More Special Grandmas have come out

late september flowers

The last of the yellow crocosmia, a small rudbeckia and a late burst of phlox.

Mrs Tootlepedal made herself some very good looking courgette fritters for her evening meal and I cooked up a calorie heavy dish of macaroni cheese to make sure that I didn’t fade away after my cycling efforts.  (In fact, there is no chance of that as I am at my winter weight already and winter hasn’t even begun.)

The TV provided Gardener’s World and highlights from an exciting day of golf in France to give us both a good excuse to sit down and put our feet up in the evening.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow





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Today’s guest picture shows a view of Amsterdam.  It was sent by my sister Mary who has just come back from a visit there with my brother Andrew and my sister Susan.  They get about.

Amsterdam April 2014 022

I made an effort to get about a bit myself today as for once it was a completely dry day and, for a while at least, the wind had dropped.

The downside was that the temperature was decidedly chilly in the early morning and I didn’t get going until nearly ten o’clock.  The sun was shining as I set out with a couple of bananas and an egg roll in my back pocket and no particular route in mind.  My plan was to see how I felt and cycle accordingly.

I started out along the Wauchope road and, as I was heading into what wind there was, I went at a steady rate, dropping into a comfortably low gear any time a hill approached.  This method took me the ten miles to Paddockhole without any stress and here I had a choice of routes.  I settled for heading north into the rolling hills and climbed up to Corrie Common where the moorland is wide open with skies to match.

Corrie Common

A bit of down and up took me to the edge of the Dryfe valley….

Above Boreland

…and here I could either head east into more hills and back to the Esk valley for a 40 mile strenuous round trip home or west into the broader, gentler country of Annandale with the opportunity to extend my tour as I felt able.  The sun had gone in but I was feeling well and the bike was rolling smoothly so I went west and followed the Dryfe Water.  I  didn’t go into Lockerbie but headed straight on towards the motorway.  I was passed by several log lorries who were heading towards the wood fuelled power station at Stevens Croft.

Stevens Croft

This is UK’s largest wood fired biomass station. With an output of 44MW it supplies the electrical needs of 70,000 Scottish homes, displacing around 140,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases.  There was certainly a huge mound of sawdust and vast acres of logs on every side round the building.   In the distance I could see another approach to energy production.


This was the third windfarm I had seen since starting my journey.   The wind may be a pain for cyclists but at least it is good for something.

For the rest of my journey, I could almost always see the sun shining but it was almost always somewhere else and not where I was which was a bit of a disappointment and meant that I took less photots than I had intended.

I cycled over the motorway on a bridge and headed towards the river Annan, crossing it by the bridge at Millhousebridge where this curious building dominates the approach to the river.


This clock lodge was the old schoolhouse.  The clock seems to eternally pointing to ten to three like the Old Vicarage in the famous poem.

I crossed the river and pedalled downstream to Lochmaben.  Here I bought a bottle of water as I had forgotten to put my own water bottle on the bike and a cup of hot chocolate.  I would have enjoyed the chocolate more if I hadn’t put it on the ground while I took a photo and inadvertently kicked it over.  This is the photo that I took.

Mill Loch

The Mill Loch, one of three in the town.

I cycled thought the town and out past the Castle Loch, the biggest of the lochs.

swans on Castle Loch

They have a sailing club here.

There was a brief moment of sunshine but it had almost gone by the time that I had turned round to look down the length of the loch.

Castle Loch

I was tempted to visit the castle that gives the loch its name but the road was covered by farm muck as they had been spraying the nearby fields so I passed up the opportunity and headed first down to Dalston and then to Hoddom, where I stopped in a handy picnic place for my lunch of a banana and an egg roll.

Refreshed, I crossed the Annan once again….

Hoddom bridge

and pedalled home via Ecclefechan, Eaglesfield, Gair….

wild flowers in the verge at Gair

Wild flowers in the verge at Gair

…and over Callister for the second time on the trip.  For this section I at last had the wind behind me.  This was well planned as it gradually increased in strength until it was able to give me a substantial helping hand down the final hill and back home.

I ended up covering 56 miles in just over four hours of cycling time and because of the leisurely pace and the care I took to be in an easy gear whenever some uphill threatened, I ended up in very good order.  Those with time to kill can view the route here.

I noticed when I put the route into the Garmin Connect website, that Dropscone had also taken advantage of the light winds to whizz round the customary morning run at great speed.  I was glad that I hadn’t been trying to keep up with him.

After a cup of tea and  shower, I had a look round the garden.  The tulips are doing their best.


A silver pear, a lasting gift to us for our silver wedding, has charming pink tips for its flower buds but no pink at all in the actual flowers.

silver pear

We are hoping that the plum tree, as well as offering a perch to our birds, will provide us with a good crop of plums this year.

Plum tree blossom

The blossom is looking very promising so far

The rhubarb is flourishing…


…and we picked  a few sticks which will be cooked for the first of many rhubarb crumbles to come.

As I went back into the house, I noticed this very large bumblebee crawling up the wall.


As the day was still dry, Mrs Tootlepedal, Sandy and I went up to the Moorland Bird Feeders to see if we could see anything interesting.  Dr Barlow was there filling the feeders when we arrived.  She had been hoping to have a ringing session tomorrow but the winds are going to be too strong so it has been cancelled.  She told us that there were plenty of hen harriers to be seen on the other side of Whita.

We sat down to look at the feeders. I was hoping for some good woodpecker shots but I had to settle for a male and female pheasant.

female pheasant

The female pheasant, restrained elegance

male pheasant

The male pheasant, rather showy

If the female looks a bit gloomy, it may be because every move she made was dogged by at least four and often more of the males, all vigorously pressing their suit.

There was little of interest so we soon packed up, pausing only to note the arrival of a woodpecker at the very moment that we were all back in the car with the cameras put away.

Taking Dr Barlow at her word, we drove round and up onto the Langholm Moor and sure enough, there was a hen harrier floating above the hillside looking for something for her tea.

hen harrier

The weather had worsened, with a chilly and strong wind and thick cloud so after Mrs Tootlepedal and Sandy had had a good look through their binoculars, we went back home, there being no chance of a better photograph to be had.

In the evening, we were visited by Mike and Alison Tinker.  Alison had been working very hard in her garden all afternoon so we  were both a little tired but all the same we managed to finish quite a few sonatas at the same time and often in the same key.  Most enjoyable.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch


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