Friday 31 July 2020

Lockdown Common Riding 2020 and its all over by 6.30am

For a week there has been rumours that there was something going to happen very early on Common Riding morning despite the fact that the 2020 Common Riding has been cancelled. The Common Riding Committee wanted to keep up the tradition of marking our boundaries while at the same time ensuring Social Distancing was kept to and people were safe. It was an almost well kept secret, but this is Langholm and as usual it leaks out so I was determined to go early to The Castle Craig's and Langholm Monument as I had enjoyed the spectacle there last year. Setting of at 4.15am I wondered if anything would be happening but when I got as far up as The MacDiarmid Monument it was clear that I was not alone. It was a glorious morning and as the sky lightened the prospect of a glorious day became a reality.
By 4.30am it was becoming lighter while at the same time there was still a bright star in the sky.
And soon the sun would rise over the horizon
Through the gate on the track to The Castle Craigs and Spade Bearer Gordon Reid cuts a sod the mark the boundary of the Common land. 
 Semi Jubilee Cornet Stevie Ellwood and the Right and Left hand men Henry Jeffrey and Ian Little head on to The Castle Craig's 

Arriving at The Castle Craigs for the second Fair Crying

From the Castle Craig's the procession headed to the Monument for a 3 times round the monument trip
The sun was up and it looks like we are going to have a beautiful day
Not the Leaning Tower of Pisa but just the way I was standing. 
A grand photo of the three horsemen when usually there will be 150 horses head up Whita Hill. It was approaching 6.00am and I headed back down the road to my car while the procession went back to the town and crossed the Ewes to the Castleholm and by 6.30am it was all over. Usually it is just getting underway now with the Flute Band and the trip up the hill to the Hound Trail which slips at 6.30am and is the start to a long glorious day. We shall certainly remember the 2020 Common Riding and for the Langholm Exiles it has been a Virtual Common Riding with many items shown on Facebook and YouTube so they would experience much more than they would in a normal year. If you have got this far in reading my blog my sincere thanks and Stay Safe at this difficult time. 

Monday 27 July 2020

A Wet Summer Fortnight

Since my last blog two weeks ago the weather has been pretty awful and I have just done local walks in the rain with maybe a couple of long ones on the few decent days. This was on Monday 20th July when I headed up to Glendinning in the Meggat Valley. The purpose of my visit was to visit Meg who works at The Buccleuch Centre and she lives in the Meggat Valley, but is on Furlough at the moment and I have to contact her every month. It's such a pleasure to walk up Meggat and to be able to get a chat and a Coffee with Meg is just a great bonus. There are a few little bridges on the river and this one is very dangerous and not to be crossed.
This is for the sheep and was crossed by this pair of sheep before I had a chance to catch them on mid bridge 
I walked about 1.5 miles up the valley and then headed back down again. All the time I was walking their were Buzzards flying about and their cry was constantly heard.
I had been unable to photograph the pair of Buzzards as they flew about overhead but just as I went past this plantation of trees they settled in them and I was at last able to get a good photograph.
The perfect pose just as it landed on the tree
And a few seconds later
On my way back down I met the shepherd and his dogs and had a grand crack for 10 minutes
At the end of my walk up the Meggat Valley I visited Thomas Telford's memorial cairn
A selfie.
On Friday night it had been very wet and my intention was to walk round jenny Noble's Gill on Saturday 25th July but I only got as far at just beyond The Skippers Bridge where this huge tree had blocked the road. It looked as if another tree might come down as well as the embankment above it was a bit precarious. The road was not eventually reopened until late on Sunday.  
You can just see the fence at the top where the Langholm Walks footpath takes you so I decided not to go up there in case it was dangerous.   
The Esk on either side of The Skippers Bridge 
At The Kilngreen Mr Grumpy The Heron was conducting a choir of Mallard Ducks in a Common Riding song.
The Meeting of the Esk and Ewes rivers 
When I go my regular walk I try to come past this garden at the top of Walter Street which is always perfect and a real splash of colour. 
On Sunday evening Centre Stage had lit up the Parish Church the celebrate what would normally have been The Kirkin of the Cornet and with the accompanying music this was spectacular except for the millions of midges that had also come along. 

Sunday 12 July 2020

Back Walking With The Last of the Summer Winers

I started my week with a trip up to Westerhall Estate as its my favourite place to go when I feel I need a bit of a boost. We were still waiting for Nicola Sturgeon to allow this area of D & G to travel more than 5 miles for our planned walk in Selkirk on Wednesday. This track is up the hill from the walled garden at Westerhall
The lovely garden at Westerhall
The road through the estate and a great place to go earlier in the year. In February it's full of Snowdrops. March its Daffodils and in April and May its Azaleas. On my journey today I saw 3 Red Squirrels but they were too quick to photograph. 
At the big house this pair of Jack Russells caused me loads of problems. They were so friendly and followed me along the road. I took them back to the house and headed back along the road and looked back to see the youngest one following me again so back I went for a second time. They were very cute and the youngest one was in danger of being dognapped.
I just love this tree sculpture
On Monday evening I went along to the Buccleuch Centre to see it being lit up by Centre Stage Theatre Group as part of a national campaign to show the Government how Theatres are being badly affected as a result of Covid-19 and many may not reopen again. 
This was the first time in 4 months I was out after 9.00pm
The Government have announced some financial backing for Theatres so we may be ok but life will still be tough for the Buccleuch Centre in the next year or so.  

On Tuesday the Scottish Government announced that the 5 mile limit had been lifted so we were good to go for a walk at Selkirk on Wednesday. We all travelled separately and arrived at almost the same time from Langholm and Edinburgh and during the walk we kept at a Social Distance. 
Single file on the uphill sections 
This is Lindean Loch
In this area you always see the Eildons and I think we have seen them from every angle 

A grand view of Selkirk from our start/finish car park
The first time we have been together for 4 months and we had a great morning walk and a lovely picnic at the half way point
Saturday was to be the best day for us since Lockdown started as we were able to have a visit from Fiona and the family from Newcastle. We had not seen them since February. We dined in the garden and Gaye went for a walk with our grandchildren Leo and Hannah in the park and later I took Fiona, Mario, and Hannah to upper Tarras to explain the plans for the Tarras Nature Reserve
Gaye and Leo walking in the park
Father and Daughter in Upper Tarras
On the Swings
In the Langholm Chilli Club Pollytunnel
Gaye had a lovely day
In the Park

The Mengers in Upper Tarras. We had a fabulous day and hope to have the kids back for a week in late August before they go back to school in September
This was the field at Potholm Bridge on 17th April during our long dry spring with not a sign of any Barley growing.
And this was the same field today, 12 weeks later when I walked round the Potholm today.

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