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. 

Saturday 12 December 2020

The Dykecroft Circular with Mike & Charlie

For some time now Mike and myself and occasionally Charlie have been walking every Thursday. This week we all headed separately to Newcastleton to do the Dykecroft Circular Walk which is about 7 miles. This is an inscription on a building next to an old church in Castleton on the outskirts of Newcastleton. My friend the Revd. Bob Milne and also another friend Bob Bowen came back to me after I had put it on Facebook and it says "Today me and Tomorrow you".
An old bridge on the outskirts of Newcastleton. There is a new bridge next to it so this one is not used now.
~t the end of the Forestry section of this walk this bridge takes us back towards the main road.
On the old Waverly Railway line back into Newcastleton this is the garden of artist Julie Dumbarton and shows her lovely Garden Pod

We had hoped to travel the last 2 miles of the walk on the old Waverley Railway line but realised it was very muddy and difficult to access in places so we went onto the line about a mile from Copshaw but this also was difficult in places to get through.
On our way to Newcastleton we travelled separately in our own cars and just a few miles from the village we had to turn back due to a lorry having overturned nearer the village. We all arrived at the start of our walk a wee bit late but we were on our way after about a 20 minute delay having detoured via Canonbie.
On our way out of the village we spotted this holiday caravan that has been converted into a log cabin to great effect.
Another bridge in the centre of the parkland area of the walk.

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