Monday, 8 February 2021

A Perfect Winter's Day for Walking

With us being on Lockdown again I have hardly walked anywhere out of town for weeks except for the odd walk near Canonbie so thats the reason for very few posts on my blog. Today however is the perfect winter's morning for walking and no need to travel as we have it all on our doorstep. My usual morning walk was extended a bit to The North Lodge and The Curly Snake making a total of 4 miles. 
This is along the upper road running parallel with the Lodge walks and for 5 minutes I had to face a blizzard. 
When back on the new path near the meeting of the waters I went right down to the point where Ewes and Esk meet.
The Snowdrops at Holmhead but they are at least a week later this year and are still to open out to give their usual great display.
The view from near North Lodge up the Esk valley

Elizabeth Street this morning and a light covering of snow. 

The old Scots Pines on the Castleholm looking from the meeting of the waters.
 

Friday, 29 January 2021

A Walk in Lower Tarras

My morning walk today was from The Maverick Bird Hide to Perterburn and back in Lower Tarras Valley a distance of 4 miles.
After much discussion on Facebook we have decided this is a Kestrel photographed at Perterburn.
This is Middlemoss in the distance
Looking up The Tarras and Little Tarras Valley
These 2 fields enclosed by Dry Stane dykes at the back of Whita have been called The Bible Fields as far as I can remember. 
The Rashiel Cottage and one of the nicest places to live in the area. I have been there during the Walking Festival when we were allowed to see a Barn Owl nest and I have a couple of times seen a Barn Owl hunting in the field in front of the house.
Plenty of water in the Tarras but not running brown like the Esk was this morning
Tarras Bridge

This is a very marshy area near Tarras bridge. At one time during the Moorland Education Project we had plans to turn this area into a pond but it needed planning permission and we did not have sufficient funds. Perhaps that will happen when the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve is set up.




 

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Lockdown January Walks

It has been a very cold January and as we are again in Lockdown I have decided not to even go far out of Langholm for my daily walks. These photographs are a collection of all my walks during the second half of January. I have only missed one day of walking since Christmas and am managing to average almost 5 miles per day.

This is on the walk that I call The Curly Snake and it runs parallel to The Lodge Walks and comes out at Pathhead near Buccleuch Estates offices.
Plenty of ice on the Tarras road between Skippers Bridge and the turnoff for Jenny Nobles Gill
The Castleholm
On the way round Jenny Nobles Gill

My most regular walk is round by The Pheasant Pens and this Robin regularly comes up to me near Holmhead. I have started to feed him some seed so he is becoming very friendly.

This is called Hair Ice and there has been a lot of it about this month.

The river Esk at Hollows Bridge on the one occasion I ventured a wee bit further for a walk

I normally walk on my own in the morning and then in the afternoon go for a shorter walk with Gaye. We certainly make sure that we are appropriately dressed for the situation.
The face mask certainly improves my looks.
The Castleholm and Langholm Lodge
Easton's Walk and the path was very slippy so Tom is hanging onto the fence to save himself from falling
Jenny Nobles Gill walk on the frostiest morning
This is well below Skippers Bridge on the Esk and Mike Tinker pointed out to me that Birds Nest Orchids grow here in the summer. 
The monument on our most snowy day. We have been very fortunate and missed most of the really bad weather but did have some very cold nights with the coldest being about -12C
 

Friday, 15 January 2021

A Cold start to January


Since my last blog on 8th January we have had a spell of dry but cold weather that has enabled me to walk almost every day and on the sunniest day I headed out to The Langholm Moor and the upper Tarras Valley. This Wild Feral Goat was very close to the road and happy to pose for me. 
One of the Gulls posing on the fence posts at the Kilngreen
The upper Tarras Valley
More Feral Goats
The Meeting of the Waters Ewes and Esk
Mr. Tootlepedal on one of his daily walks during this cold spell as he is unable to cycle at the moment except of course on his bicycle that goes nowhere in his garage.
The Langholm Monument on Whita Hill
The Meeting of the Waters on the coldest morning

The Ewes at the Kilngreen


 

Friday, 8 January 2021

A Beautiful Winters Day

Since New Years day the temperature has hardly been above zero but today was the best day I have had this year to date for walking. It's still tricky underfoot but the sunshine was glorious and the scenery wonderful. I have been walking my regular low level walks this week and not venturing into the hills so this was my usual walk round the Pheasant Pens today. It's worth noting that last year in January I spotted my first Snowdrops on 1st January but this year not a sign of them yet. 
Langholm Castle in all its glory.

This is Clerk Fell next to the road to Potholm
Clerk Fell and Pedens View

All the time I was walking a pair of Buzzards were calling and I finally managed to get a photograph of one of them as it settled on a tree 


 

Thursday, 31 December 2020

My Favourite Photographs of 2020



This has been an amazing and difficult year but to date we have made our way through it despite cancelled trips to California and cancelled holiday cottages. My walks have nearly all been local and I long to walk at my favourite places like Kippford or the Northumberland Coast or visit one of my favourite Islands. 
 The year starts with our usual New Years Day walk. This year we started a bit later and did not follow the New Years Day run route but headed round Jenny Nobles Gill. We finished with a nice lunch in The Eskdale, a few drinks and great conversation.
Gaye and myself on our favourite seat on the Castleholm in early February.  
Hannah and Leo among the Snowdrops on our visit to Westerhall Gardens 
The Graham family in their Ski Lodge in The Sierra Nevada mountains of California. There were 3 families in the lodges and our Eleanor is second from the left, Tommy is 4th from the left, with Elliot 3rd from the right. 
Just 2 days after her skiing weekend in the mountains Eleanor and 3 of her friends were surfing on a beach just south of San Francisco. This is the magic of California. Eleanor is 2nd from the left. 
In mid March we were in Lockdown for Covid-19 virus so Gaye and I had the pleasure of walking in Upper Tarras with nobody else about. This became a regular trip for me during Lockdown as the weather during March - June was glorious with almost 10 weeks without rain. 
With USA on Lockdown as well this was our Grandsons Elliot and Tommy doing their school work from home in April. They dress for the occasion and need a nice drink to keep them going. Eleanor was working in her own room. Elliot is the only one back at school with Eleanor and Tommy still working remotely.
I regularly walked round Potholm and this was the field next to the river at Potholm Bridge on 18th April with not a green shoot in sight as the ground was so dry. 
And this was the same field 12 weeks later.

My Birthday Party on 21st May with David and Alix and Tom (taking the photo) socially distancing in the garden. 
As hairdressers were closed during lockdown we all grew our hair. The first to manage a haircut was Elliot and here you see the before and after. 
Hannah and Leo at Northumberlandia near Cramlington. Leo managed to avoid a haircut for a bit longer than Elliot.
June arrives and with it a baby rabbit in our garden we named Demelza as we have been watching Poldark on Netflix for all of Lockdown. She stayed with us for almost exactly a month but was last seen heading along the Lockerbie road in early July.
Demelza is not put off by Tom and for a month we enjoyed almost a daily visit.
In mid June the Californian Graham's headed up to the mountains again to a place called Ice Lake and Tommy is enjoying some kayaking.
While Eleanor has a go at Paddleboarding.
As Lockdown eased in June we made our first visit to Winterhope to see Jean and Wattie in their lovely garden. 
While in California work continues on Fraser & Leslie's new house as Leslie blows all the dead leaves and rubbish off the roof. 
Early July and a visit to Arkleton Walled Garden to pick some flowers. 
Langholm Common Riding and I headed up Whita to Castle Craigs at 4.30am to await Semi-Jubilee Cornet Stevie Ellwood. This was a glorious morning and about 100 people were on Whita to witness this amazing spectacle. 
I visit from the family on 11th July and once again a walk up to Tarras valley.
On 6th July we had our first Last of the Summer Wine Walkers day out since Lockdown started and had a socially distanced walk at Selkirk. 
Fiona and family had a week in a holiday cottage at Talkin Tarn where they stayed on the farm owned by a racehorse trainer. Hannah befriended the old dog resident at the Racing Stables and they became such good friends. This is my favourite photograph of the year. 
At the beginning of August Fraser and family spent a few days in the mountains of Arizona in a cabin next to a lake. The kids enjoyed their time fishing on the lake.
Tommy is the keenest fisherman and managed to get the biggest catch.
The Langholm Moor with one of the best displays of Heather in recent years.
One of the resident Feral Goats on the Moor
The Langholm Monument in the distance. during Lockdown I spent many hours up on the Moor watching the Raptors and especially the Hen Harriers. On one particular morning in May I had several Hen Harriers and Short Eared Owls just yards from my car as I was sitting at Hen Harrier Corner. On the 31st October 
the Langholm Initiative succeeded in purchasing 5000 acres of the Langholm Moor from the Duke of Buccleuch for £3.8M with an option on a further 5000 acres for £2M within the next year or two. What a great effort under extremely difficult circumstances.
End August and another short visit from the family in Newcastle. I had my most enjoyable walk of the year with Leo round by the Skippers bridge and he kept me amused all the way. He was soon to get a hair cut after this in time for a return to school in September. 
In mid September Gaye and I headed to Port William on the Machars of Galloway for a week in a little cottage beside the sea. This is Gaye with a strange man beside the harbour at Port William and the photograph below is the river Bladnoch and the entrance to Wigtown harbour.
This is Port Logan Bay on a beautiful Sunday when we visited the gardens and sat by the bay.
A lovely tree from the southern hemisphere in Port Logan gardens. We enjoyed a lovely lunch in the Cafe and then took a couple of hours to walk round the beautiful gardens. We had a week of wonderful weather and enjoyed plenty of short walks in this lovely part of Galloway.
A pair of Turnstones at Isle of Whithorn
Gaye outside the house she spent the first 10 years of her life in at Wigtown.
We are into October now and Gaye takes time every couple of weeks to tend to the plants in The Buccleuch Centre. When we did our house up in early 2018 we had 3 very large plants so we donated them to The Buccleuch Centre where they have been much admired.
The Thistle Viaduct on the old Waverley Railway line as it crosses the Esk near Kirkandrews on Esk. I did a feature for the E & L on a walk that includes this and got some flack from a few English residents in the area that don't like walkers on their land. We are so lucky in Scotland that within reason and by keeping to the Country Code we can walk anywhere.   
This is the view from the Veranda of Fraser's in-laws house in Mendon, Northern Utah. Carlo and Sidne moved their around 2008 from West Jordan near Salt Lake City and they have a beautiful house with over 5 acres of land that they use for Maize and Alfalfa. We must have visited them about 8 times and just love this little village and that area of Utah. The mountains rise to about 8000ft and are usually covered in snow from November to March. Sidne sent us this photo to show the autumn colours of the trees. 
The very popular Lodge Walks which I walk on average about 4 mornings a week. It really is a lovely area to walk and my regular walk is exactly 3 miles round by the Pheasant Pens and then back along the riverbank. I meet the same people every day and often stop for a chat and on Thursday mornings I walk with Lennie Bell. 
On 2nd November I received a call from the local paper asking if I would go down to The fairy Loup near Canonbie as reports had come in saying that the waterfall had disappeared. I immediately investigated and this is the burn just 30 yards above The Fairy Loup where the burn now goes into a hole in the ground.
This is the dry waterfall.
This is the spot about 250 yards below The Fairy Loup where the burn suddenly appears again but now the water is very brown. There used to be a coal mine here so it must have opened up old workings. Within a few days a local farmer had dumped a lot of stones into the hole and once again The Fairy Loup is in almost full flow. 

In November I felt it my duty to visit the Langholm Moor as I now own a very small part of it having contributed to the successful Langholm Moor Purchase Project. This is Little Tarras and the bridge put in by Langholm Walks 20 years ago.
And upper Tarras valley which we don't own yet but maybe will do in the next year or so. 
In mid November Sammy the Golden Retriever puppy joined the Graham household in Saratoga California. I look forward to meeting him next year hopefully and having his company on my daily walk when I am there. 
Early December and David's Birthday Walk up at Westerhall. 
This last photograph probably typifies most of the year as we are constantly having to social distance and wear masks. My team from The Buccleuch Centre have worked so hard to keep the Coffee Shop open on a Friday from mid August and without a single person being infected with Covid-19 have been superb. It has been a constant struggle all year for me trying my best to keep The Buccleuch Centre open and I have raised almost £100K from various sources to keep it going, but there have been several low points when I wasn't sure if we would survive. We should be ok until April 2021 while the Government Furlough scheme lasts but it could be a difficult time from May until hopefully when we reopen in July/August but our Patrons and Customers have been tremendous and hopefully will see us through. 



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