Thursday 31 July 2014

Quintinshill Walk

As we are coming up to the date of the 100th Anniversary of the starting of the 1st World War we decided this week to walk the 6.5 mile trail at Gretna that takes in the Quintinshill Train Disaster from 1915 where hundreds of troops were killed when their train was hit by an express train in a siding near Gretna.
This is the siding where the accident happened when human error by 2 signalmen resulted in the crash. The troop train then caught fire and it was a result of the fire that caused so many deaths.

More information about the accident

The sign warns Peter and Tom

This is the main street in the village of Springfield. It used to be the main A74 road but is now a very quiet street.

The First House in Scotland and now a cafe. We stopped here for a snack but service was very slow. 

The bridge over the River Sark and it was at this point that Tom decided to explain his theory on the English West Bank problem. a very interesting theory but much better to speak to Tom about it than try to explain it on this blog.

Our walk finished at the Gretna Green Blacksmiths Wedding Centre where of course there was a wedding. I was about to ask them to pose for a better photo when both Bride & Groom lit up a cigarette and the magic effect was gone so I just left them to smoke in peace.

Monday 28 July 2014

Loads of Cousins

Cousin Hilary and her daughter Meg and her 2 sons Sam and Tom visited us on the Wednesday prior to the Common Riding. The weather was glorious and most of the time was spent in the garden.
The purpose of the visit was to meet up with Fraser and his family. It is almost 30 years since they had seen each other. 
I had booked a Chocolate Party for all the kids at Abbotts and they loved it but it was the warmest day of the year so the chocolate struggled to set. Tom is drawing with white chocolate on his chocolate lollipop.
Sam making a chocolate Pizza.
Ellie and Sam got on great.
We paid a quick visit to Winterhope to see Jean and Wattie.
Lunch in the garden. A great day and hopefully we will all meet up again soon.

Sunday 27 July 2014

A Birthday Picnic

We decided to combine a visit to Jean & Wattie with a special picnic to celebrate Gaye's forthcoming 70th birthday.
The weather was fantastic and Winterhope Cottage is such a great place especially for the kids.
The birthday girl with a lovely new watch given by Fiona & Fraser and their families.
A lovely shaded picnic area with our hosts Jean & Wattie
Hannah with her new friend Quackers the Duck. 
Hannah playing cards with the adults after the others had gone to bed.

A Family Common Riding

With all the family in Langholm for this years Common Riding for the first time since 2006 this was a real special occasion. In 2006 we only had one grandchild Hannah but now we have Eleanor, Leo, and Tommy as well. 
The family all together. Don't know when this will happen again. 
Ellie loved every minute of the Common Riding and had her photo taken with the Cornet and two of the emblems.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Niall's Non Birthday Walk

The walk today was a Non- Birthday Walk selected by Niall as his birthday is at the wrong time to be with us so he selected a 6.6 mile walk from the town of Coldstream which partly followed the River Tweed and finished through the Hirsel Estate that was once the home of Sir Alec Douglas Home the ex Prime Minister. We left Langholm in the rain but as we for further east it stopped and we had an almost dry walk with just a couple of showers. At the car park where we started the walk there is a lovely garden with these Saltires in the background. We decided to take the photograph with the YES voters on one side and the NO voters on the other. I will leave it to readers to decide which is which, but maybe we were not being totally truthful.

The view from the garden at the start of the river Tweed and looking into England

This area is perfect for Barley and there are many fields just like this with almost perfect crops. Looks like it will be a good year for these farmers.

There were plenty of fishermen on the river Tweed but this is the first time I have seen a dog fishing.

In the Hirsel Estate there were plenty of these old Scots Pines

A coffee break in the cafe on the Hirsel Estate

Tom & Martin have a chat with Sir Alec.
It was a superb walk with plenty to see in lovely countryside. We went for a meal after the walk and entered the Besom Pub and were given a table for 7 and menus and then 2 minutes later the manageress came over to us and said we were too late as the kitchen closed at 2.00pm (it was 2.01pm) and suggested we move to another pub up the high street. I was furious as this is a perfect example of poor business ethics and who in this day and age can afford to turn down good business like this. We therefore went further along the road to the Newcastle Inn and were provided with a nice meal pleasantly served. I shall of course be making comments on Trip Advisor so they have really lost out by not serving us.

Thursday 10 July 2014

Gaye's Sitootery

Gaye has always wanted a Summer House or as she calls it a Sitootery. Our friends Niall and Elspeth Weatherstone decided to make this wish into a reality and the whole Weatherstone family clubbed together to buy Gaye her Sitootery for her forthcoming 70th birthday. Her birthday is not until 14th August but it was decided to have it erected in time for Fraser and his family coming. Leslie and the kids arrive today and Fraser arrives in a weeks time and they all leave on 30th July. The Last of the Summer Wine crew were drafted in to help with the building of the Summer House and they arrived yesterday together with our friends Jean and Wattie Rutherford and under the guidance of Project Manager Niall the Sitootery was erected, although not without a few problems raising their heads and being solved especially with the assistance of Wattie.
The following photographs show the process of building this fine Sitooterie.

Friday 4 July 2014

Annual Walking Week in Great Glen

Our Annual Walking week was in The Great Glen this year and we all arrived at our country house near Drumnadrochit within 2 hours of each other last Saturday. This was the largest number ever to participate in The Last of the Summer Wine walking holiday making a total of 7 men and 5 women. As the house was fairly remote this year we planned to eat out 3 times and the rest of the week the ladies provided us with superb meals. Tom was the last to arrive on Saturday and he had a car loaded with enough wine and beer to sink a battleship. I am happy to report that most of the wine has disappeared but there will be a load of beer returning to Langholm just in time for the Cornet's Street Party at the Golf Club on Sunday. The plan was to walk at least 40 miles during the week and I am happy to report this target has been achieved although not everybody walked every day.

Day 1 on Sunday was a nice easy 7 mile walk to set us up for the more difficult walks later in the week. We started at the first Lock on the Caledonian Canal at Inverness and walked to the point where it entered Loch Ness. There were a good number of boats on the canal with most of them being of Scandinavian origin. 

The first Lock on the canal and 3 boats waiting to move out of it into the canal. One Swedish and the other 2 were from Norway. 

On Monday Gaye and Aileen and myself decided to visit The Black Isle to see the famous Moray Firth Dolphins.
We were very lucky and within 5 minutes of parking our car at Chandonry Point near Fortrose we witnessed a spectacular display of Dolphin aerobatics for about 15 minutes before they all disappeared. This photograph does not give a true impression of how spectacular they were as managing to catch them in mid air was almost impossible. They were only about 10 to 15 yards from the shore but kept appearing at different points along the shore and anticipating just where they would do their leaps was almost impossible.  

Aileen and Gaye at Chandonry Point with about 25 Dolphin watchers behind them. The best time to view them is about 1 hour after slack tide and we just managed to arrive at exactly the right time. 

After the excitement of watching the Dolphins we headed up the coast to Rosemarkie where we had Coffee and Cake in a lovely Beach Cafe run by the local community. While we were visiting the Black Isle the rest of the walkers were walking round Loch Affric for the toughest walk of the week and a distance of about 11 miles. 

Tuesday was set to be the best day of the week for weather and we set out to walk Loch Oich and the Caledonian Canal sections from North Laggan to Fort Augustus. This was a distance of about 10 miles and with the weather hotting up to almost 70F it proved to be a fantastic days walking. Logistically it was quite complicated with an hours drive in 2 cars to North Laggan and then Elspeth and Gaye would meet us in Fort Augustus at the end of the walk to run the 2 drivers back to their cars. 

As you can see from this photograph of Loch Oich the scenery was just stunning

Lunch at the Bridge of Oich swing bridge and the opportunity to relax and watch several boats coming through and waiting for the swing bridge to open. It takes quite a long time to navigate the canal as their are 29 Locks and 8 Swing Bridges to be negotiated therefore great patience is required. On a day like this nobody was in any hurry and it looked a great way of spending a day on a boat.

Another European Boat navigates the Canal but this time it is from Holland. 

The last leg of the Tuesday walk and a refreshing drink among the trees is the best way to cool down.

The entrance to Loch Ness and a series of 5 Locks to be navigated at Fort Augustus. This was the end of our walk and it was just lovely to sit and have a few beers at the side of the canal while our drivers collected the cars from North Laggan.

Most of the walkers had a free day on Wednesday but the ones visiting the Black Isle to see the Dolphins were unlucky as they never appeared. This is our Thursday walk which involved driving to one of the highest points on the Great Glen Way and then walking back to Drumnadrochit. The walk included new forest plantation, old forest, and moorland so we had a real variety of landscape to negotiate. The new forest area was a combination of both conifers and deciduous and was a real treat to walk through. 

Our lunch time stopping place above Loch Ness with an almost 1000ft drop to the Loch.

Coffee and cake back in Drumnadrochit after our lovely walk.

Tom managed to sleep while holding his bottle of beer for almost 30 minutes and not a drop was spilt.

Pre dinner nibbles provided by the ladies and very tasty they were too. 

On our Thursday walk at the highest and remotest point we saw many signs like this.

Eventually we came to this sign and a path to what must be the remotest cafe in the UK. As it was just near the starting point of our walk we decided not to bother visiting the cafe but afterwards I think we all regretted this and maybe had missed out on something a bit special.
The weather for Friday was looking terrible so Gaye and I decided to head for home as I have a Buccleuch Centre function on Saturday as Duty Manager and it was not worth driving all day on Saturday and then being out until almost 1.00am in the morning. The 8 remaining walkers were planning a lazy day and then dinner out at the Fiddlers in the evening. It has been a lovely week blessed with great weather for 5 out of the 6 days. I would like to take the opportunity of thanking the many friends who have sponsored us and I am happy to report that we have raised over £700 for Macmillan Cancer Support. 

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