Posts Tagged ‘Westwater’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He was tempted by this large pre-Halloween spider mallow shortcake but a quick look at the nutrition information revealed that he would have to take two or more days to eat it to stay within his health guidelines, so he gave it a miss.

halloween mallow

I had a rotten night’s sleep and while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a business meeting, I was more than happy to idle the morning away with nothing more demanding than the crossword, sweeping the leaves off the middle lawn and washing the car,  Those who know me well will be amazed to hear that I washed our car, but when you carelessly buy a white car, even the most dirt blind person can’t avoid noticing when it turns brown.

I also spent a little time stalking the garden birds.

starling, chaffinch, robin and sparrow

Once again, a dunnock is my pick of the day, though the robin ran it close

dunock on lawn

We have had a small but tasty crop of autumn raspberries and the very late hosta is a continuing delight.

raspberry and hosta

There are some good survivors among the humble flowers and the Crown Princess has perked up again.

daisy, yarrow, sweet rocket and rose

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal looked at the fine weather and suggested a walk.  She likes to go somewhere away from my regular walks if possible, so we drove to the top of Callister and checked out a track there.

It was alright at the beginning as we passed this little bridge under the road which we had just driven along…


…but the track soon became very soggy so we retraced our steps and tried walking in the opposite direction.  It looked as though a weather front might be looming up…

view from callister

…but we kept walking until we got to the end of the track about half a mile on.  There was plenty to see on both little walks.

I think that the yellow flower is a prickly sow thistle, the painted lady looked a bit pale and battered but flew about quite cheerfully…

lichen, flower, painted lady and clover

…and the clover and lichen were both doing very well.

There was fungus and more lichen beside the track…

fungus and lichen

…and some larches turning to gold among the spruces.

larch callister

The track led us towards an artificial pond that was made when the area was first planted with trees.  It was said that it was to attract ducks but it looks neglected and overgrown now, more marsh than pond….and not a duck in sight.


pond callister

We strolled back to the car and drove a few hundred yards along the road back down the hill.  There we parked and took a forestry track along the other side of the road.

The track was rich in wild flowers, including this very impressive multi stemmed dandelion look alike.

big yellow flower

And although the clouds were still looming, the sun stayed out and made things look very colourful.

fungus and dandelion with insect

There were lichens of many kinds on our way….

four lichens

…and lots of colourful details too.

four items along westwater track

We went far enough along the gently climbing track to enjoy some splendid views over the neighbouring hills…

westwater track view 1

…with the sun shining on the monument six miles away…

westwater track view 2

…and the Solway plain lying below us with the northern English fells in the distance.

westwater track view 3

I liked the way that seemingly arbitrary larches had sneaked in among the regulation spruces.

westwater track view 4

When we had enjoyed the views for long enough, we turned to go back to the car, passing tiny forests of moss and a smooth clump of deer grass….

moss, mold and deer grass

…and two very interesting patches of something slimy or moldy (or both) on the track.

The track, which was was rather bare and severe when it was first put in a few years ago, has grown into the landscape now and it was a pleasure to walk along it in the late afternoon sunshine.

Westwater track 5

As we turned the corner into the sun, we had the choice of the yellow brick road…

westwater track view 6

…or the straight and narrow.westwater track view 7

We probably didn’t walk much more than three miles at the most but it was a very worthwhile excursion and we felt that we thoroughly deserved our cup of tea and a biscuit when we got home.

We would normally have been in Edinburgh on a Thursday afternoon visiting Matilda but both her parents are a bit poorly and her other grandparents were visiting already so we didn’t feel a visit would really be a good thing.

On our walk, we found ourselves under a fairly busy flight path for a while so the flying bird of the day is a bit bigger than the normal ones.

flying plane callister


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Today’s guest picture comes from my Langholm friends Jim and Sandra.  They are visiting Australia where they met some down under bird life.

australian bird

We enjoyed another chilly but sunny day and if you could keep in the sun and out of a relentlessly nipping wind, it was not too bad at all.

We had a quiet morning, mostly reading newspapers and listening to the radio.  I did a little bird watching every now and again.

The male blackbirds were chasing each other about when they weren’t posing or eating so I think that they must be our native blackbirds claiming their territory.


There were no siskins or goldfinches about today so the chaffinches had a free hand and flew about in every direction.


Dunnocks and robins made occasional appearances.

dunnock and robin

A greenfinch looked relatively happy today (by greenfinch standards).


Mrs Tootlepedal spent some useful time clearing up in the greenhouse getting ready for the new season and I made a pan of vegetable soup for my lunch.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal turned to cooking and made several fish pies and I wrapped up well and went out for a pedal.

I didn’t want to go too far from home as the wind would be against me on the way back and it was very cold so I went five miles up the road and back twice.  This is not as boring as it sounds and I enjoyed myself.

I stopped once or twice.

It was a lovely afternoon when the wind was behind you.


I was going to take a picture of the gate at my turning point on Callister when I noticed a movement among the tussocks.  The head of a deer poked up…

gate and deer on callister

…but it sneaked away without letting me get a better shot.

I went along the river on a circuit of the New Town of Langholm as part of my route in the hope of seeing oyster catchers.  There were none about on the first pass but two had arrived by the time I went along the bank for the second go round.


Good route choice.

And crocuses were almost out in the garden when I got home.


Mrs Tootlepedal was also out in the garden but she was finding it chilly too and came in.

The sun was still out though and it seemed too good a day to waste indoors watching Scotland getting beaten by England at the rugby (I am never optimistic about Scotland’s rugby chances) so I got changed and went out for a short walk.

I was hoping to see some black headed gulls and I was in luck and saw one straight away when I got to the river.

black headed gull

Then I saw ten more.

black headed gull

It was as good a day for walking as it had been for cycling, especially as I was reasonably sheltered from the wind.

sawmill brig

The sun was dropping in the sky and lit up the moss on the wall after the Sawmill Brig.

mossy wall

It is obviously a good place for  moss…

mossy wall

…which is thriving.

mossy wall

I always like the colour of the bark when low sun strikes a pine tree…

pine tree

…and the trunks looked good too as I went along the new path.

pine tree

An old tree trunk, now used as a bench had an interesting selection of colonists on it. One of the ‘helicopter’ seeds was actually rooting in a crevice in the wood.

moss and seeds

I had noticed that the moon was already high in the sky so I took a hopeful shot as I walked along and after a tweak in the photo editor, it came out surprisingly clearly.


When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal told me that against expectations, Scotland were leading in the rugby match.  I watched until half time and then, fearful of causing them any bad luck by showing excessive expectation, I started cooking our evening meal. I received messages of amazement from all of our three children during the half time interval.   Annie, our daughter, was watching the match in Berlin while attending the Berlin Film Festival.

In spite of my best intentions, I kept sneaking back in during the second half and taking a quick look.  England (dropping the ball, giving away penalties and getting a man sent off) were playing like Scotland and Scotland were playing very well.  It was all most unsettling.

In the end, we won.  The first victory over England for ten years.   Our daughter was watching the game with an England supporter in Berlin and he just couldn’t understand why she was still so worried when Scotland were 15 points up with only two minutes to go.  He obviously hasn’t seen what Scotland can do when it comes to losing matches in the last minute that they should have won.

Now that I know that they are going to win, I may well sit down and watch a replay of the whole match in comfort.

All in all, it turned out to be a better day in every way than I had anticipated.

The flying bird of the day is one of the gulls at full stretch.

black headed gull



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Today’s guest picture shows some raised beds which our daughter Annie is constructing for her London allotment.  I look forward to seeing them again later in the year.

Raised beds

The weather was unseasonably warm and calm today but generally rather grey and cloudy again.

Our Carlisle choir started for the new session today and in traditional Sunday mode, I made a stew for the slow cooker while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to church.  When I had finished, my daughter Annie and I went out for another short pedal.

The day looked very gloomy when we set off and some cows gave us a hard stare as if wondering about our wisdom…

Cows on Warbla

…but the further we got from the town, the better the weather got and by the time that we had got to our turning point at Westwater…

Westwater cottage

…there were breaks in the clouds and the sun had even come out.

The big house looked very snug, set in among the surrounding hills.


As we looked towards the town on our return journey, the clouds looked quite threatening…

Clouds over Langholm

…but we thought that it looked fine enough for a short diversion up the Cleuchfoot road to add a couple of miles to our ride.  As well as an excellent surface, a rare thing round us, this short section of road has many charming views.

Glencorf burn

We got home after 11  miles without getting rained on and there was time for a look out of the window at the feeders before lunch.  The feeders were not busy but a small flock of about ten goldfinches were interested in the seeds.


Sometimes coming….


…and sometimes going…


…but often sharing.

We had baked potatoes for lunch and then set off to Carlisle to sing with our choir.  Annie came with us and she took a stroll round the city centre while we sang and then came into to listen to the end of the practice.

We are getting ready for a competition at the end of February and this doesn’t leave us a lot of time so our conductor  got us working hard from the start and didn’t waste a minute during the session.  I was pleasantly surprised to be able to sing at all as I have had a persistently ‘sticky’ throat, not sore but annoying, which I can’t get rid of.  Thanks to the good warm up and not singing too loudly, I lasted the whole session.

I have been taking Sanderson’s Specific Throat gargle and Wakeman’s menthol throat and chest sweets without any noticeable benefit and I was very grateful when Annie revealed that she had thoughtfully bought me two more throat remedies while she was in the town centre.  The sheer volume of all this stuff must surely get my throat cleared at last.

The slow cooked stew turned out well and we settled down for a quiet evening in.

There is no flower or leaf of the day today so a bare tree from our bike ride will have to do instead…

Wauchope School tree

…but there is a faintly fuzzy flying goldfinch of the day in spite of the cloudy weather.

flying goldfinch

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I am still lacking a guest picture at the moment so here is a flower from the garden.  There will not be many years when you will be able to find a wallflower in bloom here so near to the winter solstice.

wallflowers in December

The weather forecasters hit the nail on the head today and we had a very pleasant day with a chilly start as they had predicted.

The early morning was punctuated by automated calls trying to tell me that I had a security problem with my bank and inviting me to press a key to continue.  This was so obviously a scam that I ignored them at first but after the third call, I checked with my local branch and they assured me that it was genuine so I pressed the key next time.

I found that over Christmas they are  taking extra care with payments that are out of the usual which explains why I had no luck trying to buy presents for my younger son and his family last night.   These precautions are comforting in a  away but make the process of buying presents a bit of a pain.  It would be even more comforting if the bank’s systems were robust enough in the normal run of things to make these extra precautions unnecessary.

The breakfast temperature of 1°C was too cold for a morning pedal but Dropscone appeared for coffee  with a welcome batch of his girdle scones which we enjoyed almost as much as if we had earned them by cycling.

When he left, I spent ten minutes bird watching.  We are still being entertained by the usual suspects.

a chaffinch

A chaffinch shows that it doesn’t need a perch to get at the seeds.


A male tries to put a spell on a female. She doesn’t look impressed.


Another one slams on the brakes as he approaches the feeder.

The garden is full of blackbirds, both male and female.  Here is a male looking or scraps under the feeders.


There are at least two robins in the garden as I often see them chasing each other around.  One or both of them was much in evidence this morning.

robin triptych

Are these the same or different birds?

I got a pursed lips kind of look when the lens got too  noticeable.


The jackdaws are regular visitors to the fat balls….


…but if they get too frequent and put the smaller birds off, I will put the fat ball fortress back on.

The temperature had crept up to 5° by lunchtime so I put on a layer or two of warm clothes and pottered off up the Wauchope road on the slow bike for a ten mile pedal at a very steady pace, not wanting to put any undue pressure on my joints.  I crossed the new bridge and took a short diversion up the forestry road past Westwater…

Forestry road Westwater

…stopping to turn back just before it starts to climb the hill over to Arrisgill.  It isn’t easy to see the difference between this rough track and some of our paved roads.

The ride home was enhanced by a following wind but I stopped twice, once to visit a favourite gate near Mrs Tootlepedal’s manure mine….


…and once to see how much water was going over an attractive little cascade near Bessie Bell’s.


This last picture involved clambering down a muddy bank and walking out on some moss covered rocks so I was pleased to come away from this with no more than a slightly bruised knee.  One of the real pains of getting older for me is the loss of elasticity in my lower limbs over rough terrain.  Little drops of one or two feet which would have been no more than a quick hop in times past are now a matter for serious negotiation and sometimea even require the use of hands and knees.  Still, I love this little waterfall and the diversion to see it was well worth while.

Once home, I took a walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal and then had a late lunch.

I spent some time after lunch negotiating the purchase of a present for my daughter on line.  This was a bit of a rigmarole.   The firm in question insists that they ring you or that you ring them after purchasing your goods to confirm the transaction.  This was rather curious but it turned out to be an ingenious scheme on their part.  They had some very attractive bundles at extremely reasonable prices, one of which I purchased but when I rang them up, they tried to get me to upgrade several of the minor parts of the bundle to more expensive items which if I had succumbed to the charm of the salesman would have added more than a little to the no longer so reasonable price.

On top of this, my bank once again refused to honour my payment and rang me up to question me closely.  I shall be feeling guilty about buying anything soon which may not be such a bad thing.

I didn’t go to Carlisle to play recorder this evening as a result of work commitments and illness among the other players so I had a quiet night at home for the second weekday running.

The flying bird of the day is an unusual view of a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch





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