Posts Tagged ‘Westerkirk’

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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Today’s first guest picture comes from Muriel, the leader of the Mrs Tootlepedal’s church choir, who was at our concert on Friday in Canonbie where she took this photograph of us.

choir at canonbieThe second guest picture comes from Luke’s mum who took this picture of her talented child at Eskdalemuir yesterday.

Tom and LukeThe musical weekend continued today as Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing with the church choir.  I was silent for once as I put a week of the newspaper index into the database while she was out.

It was very windy again and as we had still got a lot of singing to do, once again I let the chance of a cycle ride slide away from me.  I really will have to pull myself together soon but some less busy weeks are coming up so I hope for the best.

The day was much better than the forecast as far as rain went so I strolled round the garden. Some new flowers are about.


This geum is a cheat though as Mrs Tootlepedal bought it at a plant fair on Saturday


The columbines are coming along at last.

As well as a bit of colour, there is quite a lot of white.

whiteStill, in general things are at a standstill and waiting for a warm day so there was not much to get excited about.

A blackbird was very calm as I walked up to it.

blackbirdOn the other hand a sparrow which was perching in a gutter at the top of the house was getting very excited indeed.

sparrowWe had an early lunch and set off for Carlisle to combine some shopping with a practice with our other choir there.  We have got a concert coming up in two weeks with them so we were working hard to get some polish into our programme.  We would make more progress if we could remember to do what we had learned in the previous weeks without having to be taught it again but I suppose that must be true of many choirs.  Our musical director is very patient.

We had time for a light meal and a couple of garden pictures when we got back….


Possibly the last sighting of a tulip this year.


And an almost complete absence of colour at the far end of the lawn.


We are having to make do with foliage.

…..before we set off for Westerkirk for our Langholm Choir concert there.  The church is set in an idyllic spot…

Westerkirk Church…beside the river Esk.

Bentpath BridgeAnd although it has a slightly forbidding entrance…

Westerkirk Church…it has been redecorated very nicely inside…

Westerkirk Church…and is light and airy.  The audience eventually outnumbered the choir but was not as large as the audience at Canonbie on Friday.  The choir gave their best again though and the audience was very appreciative.  The two Langholm Sings concerts went as well as could have been expected and I feel sure that we will visit both of the venues again.

It has been a hard working weekend but enjoyable.

In a complete contrast to yesterday, the flying bird of the day is a streamlined goldfinch.


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Today’s guest picture come from our daughter.  She got a camera for Christmas and I am glad to say that she seems to following in her father’s footsteps.

annie's bird

Here, my footsteps took me down to Canonbie after breakfast where I was giving a talk on my photography hobby to the small Probus club there.  There was a hiccup at the start when we couldn’t get the projector to work but a spare was found and I soon got under way.  I don’t know whether the listeners enjoyed the talk but I certainly enjoyed giving it and I had to be forcibly restrained from going on (and on and on) when my hour was up.

When I left Canonbie, I went on down to Longtown to pick up my speedy bike which had been having new mudguards fitted.  It turned out that it had needed a new bottom bracket too as I had feared so after lunch, I took it out for a short ride to see if everything was working properly.

I had time to look round the garden before that though, while Mrs Tootlepedal made potato soup.

peony coral charm

A new Peony, Coral Charm, is just about out.

It will have to go some to compete with the ones that are already in full flower.



A smart yellow relative of the onion has popped up too.

yellow onion

And the orange hawkweed is really getting into its stride.


This is the effect with the grass that Mrs Tootlepedal grows the hawkweed for.

hawkweed and grass


A Spirea waving its arms about wildly.

There were several frogs in the pond but these two appealed to me most.


After lunch, there was a brisk westerly wind blowing so I headed north, hoping to get some shelter from the hills along the Esk valley.  Parts of this road are severely potholed and I had to take great care for the first few miles.  The hills did offer some shelter and I enjoyed the ride and was happy that the bike seemed to be working well.  I had my phone in my pocket and took a picture or two to show just how green the country is looking at the moment.

Above Enzieholm Bridge

The Esk valley above Enzieholm Bridge

Westerkirk Church

Westerkirk Church, where I hope our Langholm choir will give a concert later in the year.

Esk at Bentpath

The Esk at Bentpath

Between dodging the potholes and ducking under the crosswind, I didn’t post a every impressive time but I thoroughly enjoyed the ride all the same.  It would be hard to not enjoy a ride through such lovely countryside on such a pleasant day.

When I had returned from my cycle ride, we went for a walk with Pat, our guest.  We parked at the English Church and walked up the Lodge Walks…

Lodge walks

…and then along the road to Holmhead…


..before cutting through the woods and coming back along the path at the top of the bank.

There were wild flowers on every side of the roads and tracks from the gentle….

wild flower

to the fierce…


A good looking thistle about to grow to glory

..and sometimes in the middle of the track too.

track at Holmhead

A carpet of daisies

One of the oddest things we saw was this tree kneeling on the remains of a stone wall.

kneeling tree

It was a real summer day.

summer in langholm

We were quite ready for a cup of tea when we got back.

In the evening, we deserted Pat for a while as we went to our Langholm Sings choir practice.  We will be singing our specially composed song when the Queen’s Baton relay comes through the town next week and we are supposed to know it by heart so a few runs though it tonight were helpful.  When we had finished with that, we had a good time gargling our way through some very varied numbers and at times quite surprised ourselves by making a good noise.  I have wasted a lot of my life not singing in a choir.

We are all going to Edinburgh tomorrow to visit Matilda.

The non flying flower of the day is a pink by the pond.




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