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Today’s guest picture is another captured by our son Tony’s new camera, showing that it (and he) can take close ups as well as the larger picture.

oznor

It was bright and chilly when we got up and after breakfast, I went out to look for the lost perch from the feeder.  I found it easily enough and screwed it back in place and then sat back and waited to see some obliging bird land on it.

I waited in vain.

empty feeder

It was a very quiet bird day indeed and I had to look hard to see a single chaffinch in the plum tree.

lonely chaffinch

In the end, I gave up bird watching and had a cup of coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal and then went out bicycling.  The thermometer had scraped up to 5°C but the wind was light so I took a more adventurous route than usual and headed up the road to Bentpath.

This involves a sharp climb at the start of the ride but does provided some excellent views like this favourite, looking towards the Gates of Eden just after the first climb.

gates of eden

Our hills are generally rounded and smooth but there are occasional outcrops and those who know tell me that if I was patient enough, I might see a peregrine falcon on this crag near Bentpath.

crag at benty

I continued on through the village and headed up the Esk valley towards Bailliehill.  There are hundreds, if not thousands of the tree planting tubes which the foresters use to protect deciduous trees when they plant them and I was interested to see how well they do their job.  Almost every tube in this group seemed to have a healthy tree sticking out of it.

new trees in tubes

Conifer forestry was very evident too as I cycled up the river and I took this shot to show the impact that farming has on the view.  Where there is a flat place by the river, a ‘holm’ as it is called round here, there is always a field on it, usually with added sheep….

filed beside esk near king pool

…but where there is no holm , the uncultivated ground runs right down to the river and is often planted with spruce and/or larch.

esk looking back to lyneholm

I took these contrasting two shots from the same spot, looking first up and then down the river.

When I got to the top of the hill at Bailliehill, I turned south to go over the watershed between the Esk and the Water of Milk.

I stopped at a cattle grid for a drink and a banana.

cattle grid

The cattle grids are necessary to keep stock in the right place on unfenced roads and they can fairly rattle your teeth if you go over them too fast.

There were no cattle about today so I didn’t have to worry about bumping into one on the road but I had to keep an eye out for potholes, though the road was in better condition than this view back along it makes it look.

road from bailliehill

Although it looks a bit desolate on the top of the hill, I had not gone more than a mile further before the countryside had changed and I was cycling among pleasant green pastures and there was enough water about to make the Water of Milk recognisably a river in the making.

water of milk

I was able to look across at the Ewe Hill wind farm and check the wind direction.  Happily it showed that I would be helped home by the breeze.

ewes hill windfarm

I left the Water of Milk when I crossed the bridge at Paddockhole….

paddockhole bridge

…and headed back towards Callister Hill and Langholm.

I stopped on the way up Callister at a spot where a good view up towards Winterhope and a chance for a breather on a steep climb are equally welcome.

view from back of callister

I was now looking at the wind farm from the other side.

The last time that I took this route was on a cold and sunny day early last year and on that occasion, I made a choice to extend my trip by taking a diversion from the direct route home, met an ice filled pothole and hit the deck.

Under the circumstances, I thought long and hard about taking another diversion this time but as the temperature was a couple of degrees higher, the roads were drier and my legs were very cheerful, I risked turning off three miles short of Langholm and going over the hill to join the main road at Canonbie, adding ten miles to the journey.

Needless to say, I hadn’t gone far along my diversion before the sun ducked behind some clouds….

looming clouds

…although it was by no means as gloomy as the camera makes out.  All the same, once the sun went in, it felt a lot colder so I didn’t hang about taking any more pictures but pedalled steadily on.

The ride added 35 miles to my skimpy total for January but as I had done the last 15 miles in just under an hour, I was quite satisfied with both the views early on and the pace towards the end.

There were still no birds about in the garden when I got back but the sun came out as soon as the bike was safely put away in the garage and the sky was full of fluffy pink clouds.

fluffy pink cloud

In the absence of interesting birds and garden flowers, I took a picture of the bowl of hyacinths which our friend Liz had given Mrs Tootlepedal at the new year.  They are flourishing.

hyacinth in flower

Although the days are just beginning to get noticeably longer, they are still don’t last very long so I lit the stove in the front room and settled down to putting two of the Carlisle choir songs onto my computer so that I can start learning them.  Learning words and music is a protracted and sometime painful process, full of small steps forward and giant leaps backwards.

The flying bird(s) of the day are the only two chaffinches which approached the feeder when I was looking out of the window before cycling so I feel very lucky to have captured them at all. They have been carefully balanced for gender and left and right tendencies in the pursuit of political correctness.

two flying chaffinches

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who failed to get to a windfall quickly enough.

apple with slug

In spite of a better forecast for the day,  it was raining at breakfast time.  I made good use of the time indoors by making a lamb stew for the slow cooker and by the time that I had finished, it had cleared up outside and we got out into the vegetable patch sooner than had looked likely.

We dug up the rest of our potatoes today and although we got a satisfactory crop, several slugs had got there before us and not all the potatoes will make their way to our table. Still, considering what a very soggy summer it has been, we were quite pleased to find the majority of the crop was untouched.

With the potatoes laid out to dry, there was time for a look round the garden.

poppy

Wet or dry, this is currently my favourite of the poppies

carder bumble bee

I think that this is a carder bumble bee. Its favourite flower today was a dahlia

Then it was indoors for coffee and a quick whizz through a very easy prize crossword before I got the cycling gear on and set out on the fairly speedy bike.  I had waited a bit in the hope that the temperature might rise but it was only a rather cool 14°C when I left the house.  On the plus side, the wind from the north was very gentle.

The weather map had shown rain clouds to the east, the west and the south but indicated that there might be a  channel of sunshine to the north so forsaking my usual gentle routes to the west, I set off north towards Eskdalemuir and the hills.

I am not supposed to pedal up steep hills with my tin knee and my chosen route had quite a few today.  I solved the problem by pedalling up any steep hills that I came to so slowly that my knee didn’t notice and I also took the opportunity to stop and admire the view whenever I kneeded to.

The Gates of Eden

My first stop was to admire the Gates of Eden

Whether Eden is on this side of the gates or the other depends on your point of view.  Naturally I think that it is on this side, at least on a relatively sunny day like today.

I stopped again, about an hour later to look across the Esk when I had nearly reached Eskdalemuir.

Esk valley

The fields were gleaming with fresh growth after a crop of silage had recently been taken off them.

Looking north up the Esk valley, I could see the big hills in the background.

Ettrick Pen

At this point, much to my surprise and disappointment, the sun disappeared and it started to rain heavily.  The wind got up and it turned very chilly but luckily I had my rain jacket with me and I soon put it on.  In addition, I was nearly at the turning point of my trip so I shortly had the added advantage of getting the rain on my back and not in my face.  All the same, I was just resigning myself to getting very wet when the rain stopped as suddenly as it had started.

I stopped as well, this time to look back across the river at a stone circle…

stone circle

…or rather, half a stone circle as the rest has been swept away by the river over the years.

With the wind behind and some occasional sun about again, I pedalled south cheerfully, stopping to admire a cascade of crab apples….

crab apples

….a favourite bridge over the Black Esk….

Black Esk bridge

…and a cascade in the Esk below the bridge just after the junction of the Black and White Esks.

Esk cascade

Shortly after climbing the hill away from the river, I came to the precise middle of nowhere…

Bailliehill

…and took the Lockerbie road over the hill and down the valley of the Water of Milk.

It is very pleasant for a cyclist to see windmills turning….

Ewe Hill wind farm

…because at least it lets you know that the wind which might have been holding you back is producing something useful.   I was slightly worried by the dark clouds behind the Ewe Hill Wind Farm as that was the direction that I would soon take.  However, the wind, as well as producing electricity also blew the clouds away before I got there so I felt doubly blessed.

Once I got to Paddockhole, I stopped going towards Lockerbie and headed towards Langholm.  I was on familiar territory and concentrated on pedalling.  Thanks to going at a very steady pace though, I was able to spot an inconspicuous fungus or two beside the road.

fungus

I stopped to take a view of our hills beginning to turn brown but got distracted by the top of a concrete fence post instead.

moss and lichen

Who knew concrete could be so fertile.

And I couldn’t miss a hawthorn with more berries per square inch than any other tree.

hawthorn

I finished my 34 mile journey over some rather wet roads so those clouds had obviously been moved on just in time.  My average speed was low but my tin knee was pain free so that was fair exchange.

Mrs Tootlepedal was at an Embroiderer’s Guild meeting when I got back so I spent time turning the potatoes over to help them dry out and sorting out the slugged ones and then I had a look for butterflies in the sunshine.

They were not hard to see.  The dahlias were a big attraction to them as the buddleias are almost over.

peacock on dahlia

A peacock butterfly with good colour matching skills

peacock on dahlia

It was hard to resist taking pictures of it.

red admirals

A Red Admiral tries the same dahlia

Mrs Tootlepedal returned after an enjoyable meeting.  Not only was there a good turn out of regular members but a new member had arrived, having found out about the group at the stitch-in at the Buccleuch Centre last Saturday.  This was very satisfactory.

I will still full of energy after my ride so I got the mower out and mowed the front lawn.  The grass was rather long as it has not been mowed during the recent rainy spell and the going was rather soggy so by the time that I had finished, all my energy had finished too.

We went in for a cup of tea and a slice of bread.

The lamb stew turned out well.  Shoulder of lamb and a slow cooker are made for each other.

The day was rounded off by a double dose of virtual cycling as we watched highlights of both the Vuelta and the Tour of Britain.  Our admiration for the bravery and fitness of professional cyclists is unbounded.

The flying bird of the day is a questioning cow.

cow

I append the map of my route today.  You can see from the elevation that it was much more hilly than my customary routes hence the slow speed but it had better views by far.

garmin route 9 Sept 2017Click on the map if you want.

 

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