Posts Tagged ‘stile’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She has been suffering from a bad cold but has recovered enough to walk up to Kenwood House to have a coffee and a mince pie in the cafe.  She found a very fine day for her excursion.

kenwood house in sun

We had another calm and sunny day here today but we paid the price for a clear night by having a frosty morning.

frosty chaffinches

The chill encouraged a few birds to come to the feeder and it persuaded me to go for a walk rather than a cycle ride after coffee as the the thermometer was still showing a meagre 1°C at 11 o’clock.  This may have been too cold for pedalling but it was ideal for walking as the ground was nicely firm under foot when I got on to the hill.

I walked up the track to Whita from the town.

I was surprised to find a dandelion out as well as a garden escape on my way up the Kirk Wynd but the blooming gorse on the hill was no surprise as it is out all over the place.

dandelion, shrub and gorse january

There was no lichen looking cheerful on the wall at the top of the track but the moss was remarkable.  I don’t think that I have ever noticed it looking quite like this before.

moss heads

The view up the Ewes Valley did not disappoint and the weather seemed set fair for a stroll.

ewes valley from kirk wynd

When I got to the open hill, I didn’t continue straight up to the monument but turned right along the face of the hill following the old quarry track along the contours.

Looking across the town, I could see the Craig Wind Farm turbines rotating very lazily in the light breeze.  It was a pleasure to be out on such a day.

craig wind farm

I had a look at the trig points on the top of Warbla and Timpen.  In these days of digital mapping, they serve no useful purpose but I am glad that they haven’t been taken away as they provide a punctuation mark at the summits.  Both of them were dwarfed, the one on Warbla by the communications mast beside it, and the one on Timpen by a blade of a turbine nearly a mile away behind it.

two trig points

Three sheep pondered on my activities.

three sheep

When I reached the wall at the end of the track, I paused to look over the town.

town from quarry track

Below me, a field lined with tall trees vividly showed the difference between sunshine and shade.  I was glad to be in the sun.

shadowy frost

There are many photo opportunities round Langholm and this stile over the wall at the quarry is one of the most popular and I hardly ever cross it without stopping to take a picture.

quarry track stile

Today, this turned out to be slightly embarrassing for a gentlemen who was having a pee behind the gorse bush and hadn’t seen me coming.  He soon drifted out of shot though, muttering as he went.

I went diagonally down the hill towards the oak wood and followed the track through the wood down to the road…

oak wood round house

…passing an elegantly decaying tree trunk….

tree trunk

…and some fine hair ice on my way…

hair ice skippers

…to Skippers Bridge.  It was far too good a day to miss the photo opportunity there.

skippers bridge reflection

I walked back along the river without seeing anything exciting enough to make me stop again and got home after four miles just in time for lunch.

I was reflecting as I got back to town that I had just crossed moor and mountain and passed field and fountain and as it is Epiphany, I thought that  perhaps I ought to bring Mrs Tootlepedal some rich gifts.  I stopped at our corner shop and purchased milk and honey.  These would have been a pleasant surprise for her if I hadn’t met her cycling home from an errand just outside the shop.  She came in with me.  Still, she appreciated the thought.

Over lunch, I looked out of the window and saw some sparrows.

sparrow eating seed

The males have rich colours on their backs which show up well in sunshine.

sparrow in sun

Once again, there were not many birds about so I let my lens stray towards the sedums round the feeder.


After lunch, I had an appointment with the speech therapist in Dumfries, 35 miles away but once again, thanks to the magic of the internet, I was able to see and speak to her online which saved me a lengthy drive and a lot of time.  It is a very efficient system which has worked perfectly both times we have used it.  As a result of this week’s consultation, I will be humming down a straw into a glass of water for the next seven weeks.  She assures me that it will work wonders.

Later in the afternoon, I settled down to putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database and finished putting the choir songs onto the computer.

This took longer than I expected and when I finally finished, it was time to cook some corned beef hash for my tea.

I have decided this year to keep a record of my walks as well as my cycle rides, partly to stop feeling that I should be cycling even when the conditions are not suitable and partly out of interest to see how far I walk.  I am only counting actual expeditions like today’s, not the ordinary pottering about house and garden.

As a result, I find that I have walked or cycled every day in 2019 so far, cycling 77 miles and walking 20.  That seems like quite a good balance.

I did find a flying bird of the day today as a chaffinch, some sunshine and a camera in hand all appeared at the same time for once.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from fellow archivist and Hibs supporter Ken.  Sadly he is having to leave the town to return to the north east of England for family reasons and he kindly sent me this picture of the Saltburn Viaduct, taken some years ago, which I hope will be the first of many from his new home area.

Saltburn Viaduct

After a generally cool start to July, we were promised a properly warm day today and we certainly got it. It was 18°C when we got up and 25° by mid afternoon.  As the sun was out all day, it was pretty warm when you left the shade.

Under these circumstances, I got the front lawn mowed as soon after breakfast as I could and then did the middle lawn after having had coffee with Dropscone. As a side note, our coffee was accompanied by a mound of croissants.  Dropscone had acquired them at a very reasonable price just before closing time at a supermarket in Hawick on his way back from a golf committee meeting in the borders last night.  They went down very well.

The lawn mowing and croissant eating in high temperatures took its toll and there was quite a bit of sitting and panting between times but I did find a moment to wander round the garden with the camera in hand.

Poppies were go.


I tried to capture the beauty of the back of the house potentillas with a panoramic shot but the camera had its own rather bent ideas.

potentilla panorama

I went back into the garden and looked at some clematis.


After lunch, I cycled up to the High Street to do some business and incidentally to check if I would make enough breeze while cycling to keep myself cool.  I did the business and decided that it was too hot for cycling so I went for a walk instead.

I wanted to get up to where a gentle breeze would fan my fevered brow so I put on some sun cream and an amusing hat and walked up to the monument on the top of Whita hill.

I stopped almost before I had started when I saw a commotion on the river as I crossed the suspension bridge.

family of goosanders

A family of goosanders were cruising down stream and I spent some happy minutes watching them dart about.


Leaving them to their business, I adopted a sensible pace and headed uphill.  I stopped to take pictures from time to time.

Going up the Kirk Wynd, the left and right sides offered a contrast in colours.

fireweed and nettles

There was plenty to look at, some quite obvious and some mysterious.

gorse seeds and red thing

Gorse seeds on the left but I can’t work out what the red thing is. It looks like a leaf.

A horse minded its own business as I passed.


I looked back at the town below as I climbed.


My target was the monument on the top of the hill…


…and it was very pleasant on the summit when I got there.

I had a close look at the obelisk.


As the inscribed writing in the stone is rather hard to read, some helpful person has transcribed it onto a tablet set into the base.   I always try in the intercourse of polite life to be an ornament and delight of every society but I am not so successful as Sir John Malcolm evidently was.

You can read more about him here.  He was a very distinguished chap and by no means the worst colonial ruler of his time but he opposed the Reform Act which counts against him in my view.

The views from the summit were glorious.

Panorama from Whita

A more successful panorama. (click to enlarge a bit)

My favourite view up the Ewes valley.

Ewes valley

I was standing beside a trig point and looking across the Esk valley, I could just see the matching trig point on the top of Timpen, where Sandy and I stood a few days ago.  The Lumix could see it much more easily.

Trig point on Timpen

It is the small black dot on the top of the hill at the front.  It is 2 miles away and the windmills behind are another mile off.  Smart camera.

It looks from the shot as though I was much higher on Whita than I would be on Timpen but the difference is only 25 metres or so.

I looked down to the Solway.  On a really clear day you can see the Isle of Man, 60 miles away across the Irish Sea but today I could only just make out the Cumbrian coast.


Instead of going straight back down the face of the hill, I walked along the ridge and scrambled down beside a wall to the quarry.   In some of the rougher spots, I reflected that a sensible person of my age might have brought his walking poles with him but when I looked round, there was no sensible person about so I just staggered on.


A lot of the stone to build the town came from here in the early days.

There is a handy stile over the wall below the quarry…

Quarry wall stile

I popped over the stile and followed the old quarry road back to Whita Well, where I took a refreshing drink of water and dropped back into the town.

I was more than ready for a cup of tea when I got home.  It was only a 3.6 mile stroll but the walk to the summit from the centre of the town is a mile long at a gradient of 16% and on a hot day, it was quite strenuous.

In the evening, I went up to the Archive Centre with Sandy and we fought another losing battle with an unresponsive Wi-Fi hotspot there.  We can’t afford our own internet connection in the Centre so it is annoying that the BT hotspot is so unreliable.

I didn’t have the breath left to go off to find a flying bird today so a rather showy poppy as the flower of the day will have to stand by itself.


It may have been a short summer (we are promised rain and thunder tomorrow) but it was very welcome and we enjoyed it while it was here.

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s adventures in the Highlands.  She went out on a boat and saw these bottle nosed dolphins disporting themselves.

bottle nosed dolphins

I had another quiet morning with high quality idling only interrupted by the need to mow the middle lawn and the desire to capture the continuing beauty of the peonies as they develop.


More roses are arriving too.

Lilian Austin and Rosa Complicata

Lilian Austin and Rosa Complicata

Mrs Tootlepedal has some Alchemilla growing under the espalier apples and it is another of those fairly dull looking flowers until you peer more closely.


The garden is full of sparrows and there were always a handful round the feeder when I looked out of the kitchen window.


They got a bit impatient from time to time and didn’t necessarily wait for the a perch to become clear before getting a seed.


It was a grey but dry and reasonably warm day and after lunch Sandy came round by arrangement, as we were planning a walk.  He had realised though that he had forgotten that it was his day to refill the Moorland Feeders and so instead of walking, we drove up to the feeding station and did the job.

We decided that a short sit in the hide might be a good way to spend some time and settled down to see what arrived on the feeders.

The short sit stretched out to an hour and we had plenty to entertain us.

It started with a pheasant.


…and continued with a steady stream of siskins.


There are a good number of woodpeckers in the surrounding woods and there were never less than three to be seen today, often chasing each other around the tree trunks.

The clouds were fairly thick so it wasn’t the best day for taking pictures of birds at a distance but the woodpeckers are irresistible.


A woodpecker pecking wood

I spotted a jay but the arrival of a minibus with a group of nature loving children in it caused the bird to fly off.  Luckily the children went away on a bug hunt and the sharp eyed Sandy noticed that the jay had retuned.


The children came back to the hide so Sandy and I drove off homewards.  We were brought to a sudden halt a few hundred yards down the road by the sight of a very large fungus on an oak tree.

oak fungus

My fungus book says that this might be an example of Laetioporus sulphureous and says it is edible.  Indeed if it is Laetioporus sulphureous, it is also known as the ‘chicken of the woods’.  It was certainly big enough to provide a meal for a large family but I would have to have a lot more knowledge before I would risk eating it.

It was very striking, especially growing on the trunk of an oak tree in full leaf.

fungus on oak tree

The leaves of the tree were covered with a sticky substance so I don’t know whether the appearance of the fungus is a sign of illness in the tree.

We drove on and decided to have a shorter version of our original planned walk.  This took us up through a beautiful oak wood and then back down Jenny Noble’s Gill.  It is a favourite walk for both Sandy and me…

Oak wood

…and it is not hard to see why.

The bracken is just coming out and the tips of the plants were very decorative.



We kept our eyes open for interesting things and I noticed another sort of fungus while Sandy spotted a beetle on a leaf…

fungus and beetle

…but it was hard to take your eyes of the oak trees themselves.


Our route took us across an old railway line and I used the black and white capability of the Lumix to take this picture of one of the old stiles which walkers had to use in days gone by.


We walked through the open gate today.  Between the birds at the feeder and the bracken among the oaks, we reckoned that we had spent the afternoon very well.

In the evening, Susan kindly drove me down to Carlisle for a meeting of our recorder group and we puffed away merrily when we got there.

The flying bird of the day is the jay.

flying jay



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