Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Telford’

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who is on holiday in Wales.  He took the opportunity to see one of the most famous engineering feats of Thomas Telford, a local Eskdale hero.  The picture shows the magnificent Pontcysyllte Aqueduct which carries the Langollen canal through the skies over the river Dee.

telford aqueduct

We had a slightly warmer day here today but not much warmer so after having checked the weather forecast (grey but dry) I idled a couple of hours away after breakfast to let the temperature rise before getting out on my bike.

I spent some of the time watching birds.

full feeder

Goldfinches had come back today but my attempts to find a flying bird were generally less than successful with chaffinches either hiding behind the feeder…

chaffinch behind feeder

…or sneaking up before I was ready…

chaffinch approaching feeder

…and the goldfinches weren’t much more helpful.

goldfinch approaching chaffinch

I liked this pair with the sparrow in the role of Esau (my brother Esau is an hairy man…) and the chaffinch posing as Jacob (…but I am a smooth man).

chaffinch and sparrow

I set off on my bike, full of hope and with an ambitious itinerary in mind.  This lasted all of five miles because when I looked down into the Esk valley from the top of the Kerr hill, all I could see was rain, and heavy looking rain at that.

Within a minute, the rain had swept over me too and I was under fire from some painful, sleety raindrops which were being propelled by a strong and gusty wind.

I turned tail and tried to beat the rain.  I succeeded within a mile or so and instead of resting on my laurels and heading for home when I got to the Wauchope road, I set off to the top of Callister instead.  This was a bad mistake and the pedal home back down the hill was a full on experience of getting thoroughly wet.

Still, 17 miles was better than nothing and a hot shower restored my equilibrium.

Of course it had stopped raining by the time that I had got out of my shower so I went for a short walk.

There was even the odd glimpse of sunshine…

Town Bridge wet February

Telford worked on this bridge as an apprentice.

…but everything was very wet…

raindrops on park tree

…wherever you looked…

wet needles

…and as there were ominous clouds building up and my foot was hurting a bit, I took a quick stroll along the park wall where the pixie cup lichens ….

big cup lichen

…were to be seen on every side.

pots of cup lichens

The lichen stained bark of a tree caught my eye…

park tree bark

..but I had got discouraged so I headed home and looked for flowers in the garden.  The crocuses looked a bit discouraged too…

wet crocus buds

…but a hellebore was looking well and even had a fly for company.

hellebore feb

I lifted the head up to show that it was in good health.

hellebore held up

Once I got in, the weather brightened up but I was fed up by then and I did some singing practice, had a cup of tea and a biscuit with Mike Tinker who dropped in and made a beef stew for my evening meal.

While I was doing these things, Mrs Tootlepedal was continuing with her crochet blanket (the end is in sight) and doing some detailed work on the rocking horse as part of the preparations for painting it (a lot of work to go).

After tea, I went off for the first meeting of 2019 for the Langholm Community Choir.  There had been worries that the membership might drop off but there was a very good attendance with a new member on hand.  Mary, our director, in consultation with the committee, has settled on fewer new works this session and as they are fairly easy arrangements, we had a relaxed session.  I think this is a good plan as we ought to be able to sing  the material very well by the time our concert comes round without any stress.

The best flying bird of the day that I could find was this chaffinch, just out of focus.  It matched my efforts to read the weather correctly.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Dropscone’s visit to Brooklands.  As well as the old motor racing track, he and Susan met an even faster bit of transport history..


It was just above freezing when we got up but there was no sign of any ice and the sun was out and it was a pleasant morning.   It was too cold to go cycling straight after breakfast so I considered a walk instead.  While I was mulling things over, I looked out of the window.

Sometimes there were siskins…


…and sometimes chaffinches arrived from all sides.

chaffinches arriving

Then I had to cycle round to the shop to get some milk and the ice free state of the roads persuaded me that a trip out on the slow bike would be a good idea.  It had to be a trip on the slow bike because the chain on my fairly speedy bike has not been repaired yet.

The slow bike gives me more chance to look around as I pedal along and so I thought that I would go up a less travelled route today and I followed the Esk instead of the Wauchope and stopped often to admire the views…

Gates of Eden

…which is not hard to do on a day like today.

Esk at Douglen and Craig

I passed a very nice burst of snowdrops in a wood near Hopsrig…


…and called in at the Telford Library at Bentpath.  This library was endowed by the great engineer Thomas Telford, whose biography was featured on BBC Radio 4 last week so I thought that it might interest the readers who have told me that they heard the programmes.

There is both a 1928 memorial for the great man and a modern information board about the library outside the building…

telford at Bentpath

…but unfortunately the library itself was not looking at its best today.

Westerkirk Library

I should say, to avoid confusion, that the village is called Bentpath but the library is in the parish of Westerkirk and Telford was born in the parish but not the village.

The library  was established in January 1793 when the ‘Louisa’ antimony mine owners, the Westerhall Mining Company, and several individuals presented a collection of 23 books to the miners.  Later on Telford gave the library the huge sum of £1000 pounds in his will.  It is believed to be the oldest library in Scotland still functioning as a library.

Looking across the river Esk from the library, the field where the flower show is held in September seemed very peaceful today.

Esk at Bentpath

I went down to the river and crossed the bridge…

Bentpath Bridge

The gravel bank shows that the river is not always so calm.

…had a look at lichen and leaves on the far bank…

lichen and leaves

…nodded at the church (built 1788)…

Westerkirk church

…and pedalled on up the road to visit the birthplace of Telford.

To get there, I had to leave the Esk and follow the Meggat Water up its valley…

Meggat valley

In spite of the well surfaced road and gentle gradients, it is quite hard to pedal up the Meggat valley because you have to stop and take pictures all the time.

Meggat water

Meggat water the old school

The old school

But I did finally get to my destination, Glendinning, the birthplace of Telford, and I left my bike and walked up to the cairn raised in memory of the great man.

Telford Cairn

The house were he was born can no longer be seen but this was the view that he would have seen in his childhood.


I had really enjoyed pottering up the ten miles from Langholm to get here and the sun and a friendly wind might have had something to do with this.  In fact, they definitely did because as I turned for home, the sun went in and the strength of the wind that had wafted me up the hill became apparent when I had to pedal a good deal harder to get back down the glen than I had had to to get up it.

Without the sun, the wind was distinctly chilly and the ride home was hard work so I didn’t stop to admire the view at all, though I did pause to photograph one of the less used bridges over the Esk.

Bridge at Georgefield

It looks as though it might be still usable but you would need a mighty big step to actually get onto it.

I did stop once more, mainly to get a break from battling the cruel wind for a moment but also to show the jump training track for our local racehorse stables.

Craig race track

I was pleased to get home and pleased to have done 21 miles on the slow bike even though I hadn’t managed to get my average speed up to ten miles an hour, making it the slowest ride I have done this year by far.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I set about clearing up the rest of the berberis and associated trimmings from our attack of a couple of days ago.  By the time that it was all shifted and shredded and added to the compost bin, I was quite ready for a sit down and while I was sitting, we were joined by Mike Tinker so we had a welcome cup of tea and a biscuit.

Having pedalled in the day, the evening was given over to tootling as first my flute pupil Luke came and then I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  A bit of music was a splendid way to finish a rewarding day which I though had been well spent.

I did get a bare tree on my pedals.  This one was on the road up the Meggat Water.

Meggat tree

And I managed to catch a flying chaffinch in the nick of time before it became a perching bird of the day.

flying chaffinch



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