Posts Tagged ‘Tarras valley’

Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  It shows some early peach blossom.

annie's peach blossom

We were promised wall to wall sunshine today by the forecasters with some confidence so it was disappointing to get up to a cloudy day with the standard chilly wind.  Still, it didn’t rain and I was able not only to have a walk round the garden, after coffee with our Archive Group treasurer Nancy, where I could enjoy the first tulip bulb of spring…

first tulip bud

…but I was also able to get the mower out, and while Mrs Tootlepedal slaved over a hot computer again, I gently pressed the moss on the middle lawn.

first pressing of moss

Grass had been growing through the moss though and I took quite a lot off.  This should encourage more grass growth, I hope.  The light green patch at the far end of the ‘lawn’ is solid moss.

As well as the mowing, I did some more compost sieving and when Mrs Tootlepedal came out and attacked a buddleia….

buddleia compst

…we shredded the cuttings and I put my share into compost Bin A and Mrs Tootlepedal used her share as mulch for one of her hedges.

I noted that we are at the start of the days of the daffodils now.

daffodil panel

After lunch, we drove up on to the Langholm Moor.

Mrs Tootlepedal hoped to see a hen harrier and we did see one.  It was hovering over the hill rather too far away for even my long lens to get a good shot of it.

hen harrier march

I hoped to see goats and we saw lots.  In fact we had to be careful not to run them over as they were right beside the road.

A little kid had a drink…

goat kid having milk

…and a bigger kid gave me a look…

large kid goat

…and an older goat with a stunning kiss curl gave me a profile.

goat close up

Some of the wild goats looked wilder than others.

bedraggled goat

Although these are genuinely feral goats, they are neither aggressive or afraid and they munched away quite happily as I took my pictures.

We left the goats and motored on across the Tarras Water and up to the county boundary.

Looking back I could see the monument….


monument from county boundary

…and looking down to the Solway, shining in the distance, I could see the past and present of power generation.  On the near shore, I could see the now defunct Chapelcross Nuclear Power Station which I passed on my bike a couple of days ago, and very faintly behind the chimneys in the middle of the firth, I could just make out the rows of turbines of the Robin Rigg wind farm, currently making power in the brisk wind.

Chapelcross and Solway array from moor

We didn’t stop at 1000ft for long as the wind was chilly and we soon headed back down to the shelter of the Tarras valley, where we parked the car and went for a walk.

I checked out the wall behind the car park and found that it was rich with lichen.

tarras car park lichen

We had been along this road not long ago in a howling gale so it was a big improvement to walk along it today, well sheltered from the breeze.

There was less water running down the Tarras and this suited the little cascades down which the river proceeds in leaps and bounds.

tarras cascade hdrtarras cascade light flow

We strolled along, serenaded at times by flocks of meadow pipits, for about a mile and a half until,we came to this point, where after a look further up the valley…

view towards cooms

…we turned for home.  We had the breeze behind us now, and as the sun came out, it felt positively spring-like as we went back down the valley to the car, passing little gullies…

tarras gulch

…and tenacious trees.

tarras tree

When we got back to the car park, I went forward to take a picture of the road bridge that we would cross to get home…

tarras bridge

…and as I looked at the bridge, I could see that the goats were still on the road beyond it.

Once again, they were happy to hang about for a photo opportunity….

twogoat pairs on road

…which I took.

goat looking up

Although it was only a short drive and a short walk, it had been a very satisfactory outing and we were well satisfied as we sat down for a cup of tea when we got home.

Mrs Tootlepedal prepared a chicken cacciatore for our tea and while it was cooking, Evie and her mother Annie gave us a video call.  If the world had been better organised, we would have been going to London by train today to visit them, so this was a welcome substitute for a real meeting.

The chicken turned out very well and we felt that with a good gardening morning and a successful outing in the afternoon,  we hadn’t done too badly at all in spite of not going to London.

There were very few garden birds about and I was lucky to find this chaffinch willing to be the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo’s Australian trip.  Her husband used his phone to take this shot of a big flock of bats.

Mary Jo's bats

We woke to brilliant sunshine and we were easily able to ignore a crisp temperature and a nippy wind.  Not having rain and a gale were quite enough to keep us happy.  The crocuses were ignoring the chill too and had opened their petals to greet the sun at an unusually early hour.

daff, crocus and rain gauge

Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge showed that we had had another four and a bit inches of rain recently so it is remarkable that the crocuses haven’t thrown the towel in.

And talking of towels, Mrs Tootlepedal thought that the best thing about the morning was that she could hang the washing out without it coming back in wetter than when it went out.

washing march

Dropscone, back from his Northumbrian holiday, arrived with scones and our friend Gavin kindly dropped in to help us eat them as we drank our coffee.

Dropscone had enjoyed his break with his two daughters and his granddaughter in spite of some very windy days.

After coffee, I spent some time pretending to be a man who was going cycling but actually watching birds instead.  (It may have been sunny but the wind was far from kind.)

The birds tended towards sneaking in from behind the feeder today.

chaffinch round the back

Both chaffinches and siskins were at it.

siskin round the back

And a blue tit escaped before I could catch it.

blue tit leaving

It was thin pickings for my camera but fortunately some chaffinches were prepared to co-operate.

This one came in at a perfect height…

chaffinch too low

…but this one was all too conscious that it was bit too high for comfort.

chaffuinch too high

In the end, I couldn’t waste any more time so I pumped up my tyres and set off into the unforgiving breeze.

The government was keeping an eye on my progress.

low flying plane

I was thinking of doing 30 miles, heading into the wind for 15 miles and then being blown home, but the sun had long gone and there was a sort of rain hanging about in the air and annoying me.  After only three miles both uphill and into a twenty mile an hour breeze, I thought better of it and turned left and headed for my twenty mile Canonbie circuit instead.

I kept my head down and didn’t stop much as I didn’t want to get chilled.  However, this fine tree caught my eye after five miles so I stopped for it…

tree at raehills

…but I didn’t stop again until I got back to Langholm.  In fact I didn’t even stop when I got to Langholm because, out of the blue, the sun had come out and things looked a lot brighter so I pedalled on through the town.

I still wasn’t intending to take any more pictures but the Ewes Valley mugged me.

ewes view in sunchine

And then I stopped again to record a common sight these days, a puddle that has become a pond.

ewes puddle

And with the sun making stopping a little less chilly business, I allowed a tree to detain me…

ewes tree

…and thought that I ought to record Ewes Church, my turning point for home…

ewes church

…and a nearby bridge (with an additonal gate as a bonus).

ewes church bridge

Some black clouds rolled over me as I pushed into the wind on my way back home but I sneaked past a rain shower and got home dry, having coincidentally having done exactly the 30 miles that I had set out intending to do.

Gavin had seen some young wild goats yesterday so when I got home,  I asked Mrs Tootlepedal if she would like to see if we could find them too.  She thought that this was a good idea, and we scooped up Mike Tinker who had come or a cup of tea but got potential goats instead, and set off up the hill in the Zoe.

As we turned onto the hill road a mini blizzard started and we got some rather odd views as went we went up the hill.  We could see a sunny Ewes Valley through a curtain of hail.

snow and the Ewes valley

The hail and snow got worse as we reached the moor and we were just beginning to think that our trip was ill advised, when the clouds blew over and a rainbow appeared.

snowy rainbow

We got down to the Tarras and sure enough there were two goats with kids.

This pair turned their backs on me…

goat with kid

…but this proud mother was more accommodating…

goat checking me out

…and waiting to make sure that I had taken her good side…

goat profile

…then got her children to pose prettily for the camera.

goat with kids

The snow had passed without a trace and the light was lovely as we looked up the Tarras Valley before we headed for home.

tarras view

A busy day wasn’t over yet, as first my flute playing friend Luke arrived for some duets and then, after tea, Mrs Tootlepedal cut my hair.  This was a load off my mind.

She had been able to get out into the garden for some tidying up work while I was out cycling, so we had made good use of a better day between us.

The flying bird of the day is one of those accommodating chaffinches, eyeing up its approach to the feeder.

flying chffinch

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Today’s guest post is another from one of fellow cyclist Paul’s visits to the Lake District.  It shows Derwent Water looking at its best.

derwent water

We had a day of sunshine day here, a welcome break in a succession of grey, wet and windy days which is due to resume tomorrow in spades.

We made the best of it.

I did some shopping and paid a modest but welcome income tax refund into the bank before coming home for coffee.

I stopped on the suspension bridge as I cycled over it, looked up river and thought that Langholm is not a bad place to live.

River Esk December

After coffee, I had time to look at a blackbird….

blackbird on hedge

…and enjoy the plumage on a dunnock, looking a bit brighter than usual in the sunshine…

dunnock's back

…before driving up to the White Yett with Mrs Tootlepedal to have a walk in the sun.

I stopped on the way up and upset some sheep on a knoll who did not know which way to look when they saw me taking their picture.

sheep on knoll

Looking back down the hill, I could see that when the spruces were felled in the plantation beside the road, a group of pines were left standing tall.  They glowed.

pines on Copshaw road

I was tempted by the beautiful day into taking another panorama.  A click on the picture will give you the wider view.

whita panorama

We parked at the MacDiarmid memorial and walked up the track towards the monument.  We didn’t visit the monument today though, as after a few hundred yards, we turned off to our left and followed the track round the contour of the hill to the Castle Craigs.

The track is used by the cornet and his mounted followers on Common Riding Day and is marked by a couple of cairns along the way.  This is the first of them….

first cairn on castle craigs track

…and this is the second.

second cairn on castle craigs track

The picture above shows one of the downsides of taking photos in low winter sun, the tendency of the photographer to intrude into the picture!

Looking back to the hill on the other side of the road, I liked the sinuous curve of the wall and the clear contrast between the land that is grazed on the left and the land that was used for grouse shooting for many years on the right.  It shows that whatever we are looking at and however beautiful it may be, it is not a natural scene but one that is heavily influenced by the hand of man.

whita wall

(That intrusive photographer just crept into the scene again.)

As well as the views, there was plenty of interest along the track with moss, lichen and quartz intrusions into the sandstone rock just three of the things that caught my eye.

moss, lichen and rock Castle craigs

We puddled along a rather soggy track until we came to the cairn at the Castle Craigs itself.

castle craig cairn from bleow
it is a solidly built piece of stonework designed to hold the town’s standard during the ceremonies on Common Riding Day.  There is a handy bench near it where Mrs Tootlepedal sat for a moment…

castle craig cairn

…taking in the view across the Tarras Valley.

view from castle craigs

We were well wrapped up, as in spite of the sunshine, it was not warm in the wind.

We stayed for a while, and then walked back to the car, enjoying the vista of rolling hills at the top of the Ewes Valley….

rolling hills ewes

…and the intentionally rusted Corten steel on the MacDiarmid memorial.  It made a very harmonious picture today.

macdiarmid memorial rust

Looking at the memorial from the other side brought out the intention of the artist, Jake Harvey, that it should be read like a book of the poet’s life and works.

macdiarmid memorial open book

We rolled back down the hill to the town, using gravity to charge the battery of the Zoe as we went.  After the recent dull weather, both Mrs Tootlepedal and I felt spiritually and physically refreshed by our outing.

After lunch, I got well wrapped up and went out again, this time on my bicycle.

I stopped half way up Callister to record a favourite gate….

gate with buzzard

…and was annoyed to find that that persistent photographer had crept into the frame yet again.  I was also vexed when I had put my camera back in my pocket to find a buzzard flying lazily over my head.  It had gone of course before I could get my camera out again.  When I looked at the photograph on my computer later on, I could see the buzzard perched in plain sight on the top of the second tree from the extreme right of the picture!

When I got to my turning point at the far end of Callister, it was evident that it wasn’t an entirely cloudless day…

cloud in the sky

…but I wasn’t complaining.

I took a little diversion to Cleuchfoot on my way home and this gave me the opportunity to add to my winter tree collection.

cleuchfoot trees

I managed to fit in twenty miles by going through the town and out of the other side for a mile or two and got home before the light had begun to fade.  The thermometer was showing 3.8°C when I arrived back so I was happy to sit down in the warm kitchen and have a cup of tea and a slice of toast with Mrs Tootlepedal.

We were joined by Mike Tinker for a while and when he left, I had time for a shower before my flute pupil Luke arrived.

We are making good progress at the moment and we played a sonata by Godfrey Finger (accompanied by the computer on keyboard).  The computer sets an unyielding tempo which we have to stick to in a military fashion but it is a great deal better than having no accompanist at all.

So it was a day with a tootle and a pedal, which is always good, and since it had a bonus walk with Mrs Tootlepedal in it too, it was definitely a day on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

Another peril of a sunny day in December is the deep shadows cast by the low sun so I have an unilluminated chaffinch as flying bird of the day today.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Gavin who is in the North East of England where he caught Lindisfarne Castle glowing in the evening sunshine.

Lindisfarne Castle

We had plenty of sunshine to glow in ourselves today as it was a really pleasant summer day, sunny without being too hot and with an occasional cloud to add variety.

It should have been a good day for a pedal and our neighbour Ken had a worthwhile 60 mile outing but I had things to do as we are going away tomorrow for a week.

NB:  While I am away there will be no posts and this will be the first time in six years that I haven’t made an effort to post something every day.  The fact is that my right hand has got quite painful with arthritis in my thumb joint and so I am going to take the opportunity of the trip south to give my hand  a complete rest from photography, mouse and key board work and cycling in the hope that a short break will let it calm down.    I hope to resume hostilities next Monday.

It may be stating the obvious but it would be helpful if no one added any comments to toady’s post as I don’t like to have unanswered comments on a post and I will not be in a position to answer any.  I will take as read your inconsolable grief at not having to look at any more poppy pictures for a while.   As I won’t be reading anyone else’s posts, I would ask that authors of those that I read regularly shouldn’t do anything very exciting this week that I would be sorry to miss.

Meanwhile, I was busy hurting my hand in several ways today.

I took a lot of photographs in the garden.  The dahlias are having fun.


The garden was full of insects.

beees and hoverflies

Nearly every flower seemed to have one of one sort or another…

yarrow and privet

….and some had two….

poppies with insects

…or even three.

Apart from a break to entertain Dropscone to a cup of coffee or two, we were out in the garden a lot making sure that things were as neat and tidy as possible.  There was a lot of dead heading and some uprooting and I mowed the middle lawn with the cutters a bit lower than usual.

I stopped to admire a colourful corner and get my breath back.

Colourful corner

The purple clematis on the fence is causing me to worry a bit.  The flowers seem to have four, five or even six petals and I wondered if there were different plants growing side by side…


…but Mrs Tootlepedal says that she thinks it is all the same one.

While I was looking at flowers, a dunnock scurried by and dashed under a bush.  They are very shy birds but we have at least one family in the garden.


We also got our thoughts regarding packing in order and Mrs Tootlepedal checked my intended attire for Granny’s birthday party to ensure that it complied with regulations.

There was a glimpse of tortoiseshell butterflies but they were too quick for me to get a good shot.  Even the white butterflies were not in co-operative mood today.


After lunch, with the garden under control and packing well in hand, we went for a drive to the Tarras Valley to make good use of the fine weather.  We drove as far up the valley as we could and when we reached Lodgegill, we got out for a short walk.  Two valleys meet at Lodgegill.

Byrecleuch Burn

The Byrecleuch Burn valley

Tarras Water valley

Tarras water valley

We chose to walk up the Tarras Water.  It is sheep country as you can see from the complete lack of trees or bushes.  On a sunny day in summer, it is a beautiful place for a walk, peaceful and calming.

There were things to look at as we went along and back again.

Lodgegill Sheds

Lodgegill gate

Lodgegill bridge

We went as far as this bridge

Tarras water

There were quite a few electric fences to be seen but there were some fine examples of dry stone dykes as well…

Dry stone dyke

…and this one had a fine lichen on it.

dry stone dyke lichen

Because of the sheep, there were no meadows of wild flowers but there were some to be seen…

wild flowers at Lodgegill

That was the only orchid we saw

Even the sheep leave the thistles alone.

thistle at Lodgegill

I stopped as we drove back down the road to capture a bridge with an accompanying ford.  We took the bridge.

Bridge at Cooms

It was a very satisfactory short walk but not one that I could do justice to with my camera.  The camera can’t look round and take in the whole scene as a walker can.

After a refreshing cup of tea and a slice of bread and lemon curd, a gift from our Friday visitors, I went out into the garden again and mowed the front lawn.  In a rather mean way, I am hoping that the weather stays nice and cool in Langholm while we are away so that there is not too much growth to cope with when we get back.  Pushing a push mower through long grass is hard work.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and he played a piece that he been practising with very good results.  We then set about a Telemann sonata for two flutes in canon which is going to need some hard work.    When the dark nights come, practice will be a more agreeable way to spend time than it is on lovely summer days.  We are never going to be maestros.

No flower of the day, no flying bird of the day, just a subdued farewell to blogging for a week.



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Today’s guest picture is a view of the financial heart of London seen from the verdant pastures of Greenwich Park by my sister Mary.

View of the City and Canary WharfWe had yet another fine and generally sunny day today and it was pleasant but a little chilly when I rose much earlier than usual and went off to fill the Moorland bird feeders.  Sandy has changed his work routine and this has left a gap on Wednesdays for a volunteer filler.  I am filling that gap for the time being.

It was no hardship being up on the moor on such a good morning.

Tarras Valley

Tarras valley filled with morning mist

I had been expecting to see some fungi at this time of year but I wasn’t expecting to see quite as big a crop as these under the bird feeders

Broomholmshiels mushroomsI didn’t stay long as I was busy and anyway I didn’t have my zoom lens with me to photogrpah any birds but if I had had time to dawdle, I would have taken it as it was a grand spot to be on such a lovely morning.  I was soon on the road home though.

broomholmshielsWhen I got back to town, I dropped the car off at the garage and walked back across the Esk and arrived home just in time for breakfast.  This short walk reminded me of what a good idea a new knee would be.

After breakfast, Dropscone arrived for an outing to Gair for our morning pedal.  After a summer with no problems from my asthma at all, it has annoyingly turned up again from time to time for some unknown reason and this meant a slow start and gentle effort on the hills for our ride.   Dropscone is very agreeable in moderating his early pace to my needs and once I got warmed up, we completed the trip in good order and at a reasonable but not extravagant pace.

While we were sipping our coffee, I noticed a nuthatch on the feeder.  This is a very rare appearance but it had flown off long before I had got a camera organised.  After coffee and scones, Dropscone left (to play golf of course) and I wandered round the garden. 

Shirley poppies

The Shirley poppies continue to thrive…and to need dead heading


The late astrantias are glorious

I did quite a bit of unsuccessful butterfly chasing and in the end, went inside to watch the birds through the kitchen window.

great tit

We had several visits from a great tit today

great and blue tits

It shared the feeder with a blue tit

We were hoping that the car would be fixed today as Mrs Tootlepedal needs it tomorrow so we were very pleased when the garage rang soon after lunch to say that it was ready.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked up to collect it and as it was still a lovely day, we made a diversion over the Langholm Moor on our way home.

We went down into the Upper Tarras valley…

Tarras valley….where Mrs Tootlepedal sat on one of the rather severe looking picnic benches…..

Tarras picnic benches

More comfortable than they look

…and watched a raptor, probably a buzzard, soaring over the distant skyline.  I looked a little closer to home.


The whole frame is filled by the legs of this creature

seasonal thistledown

Seasonal thistledown

Once again I was unable to linger as I was expecting a parcel delivery which I didn’t want to miss so we headed home, stopping on our way to look at some bog asphodel making a pretty sight among the last of the heather.

bog asphodelWe weren’t long home before my parcel arrived.  I took some experimental pictures with its contents.

insect on sedumpeacock butterflyinsect on cosmosI think that it will turn out to have been a good buy.  I certainly hope to have fun with it.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went to a practice with Langholm Sings, our local community choir, where we had another go at the three songs which we are going to sing in a concert on Friday week.  We have plenty of scope for improvement and one more practice to go.   Ah well.

In the absence of a picture of the visiting nuthatch, a tried and tested chaffinch is the flying bird if the day.

flying chaffinch







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