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Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Tin Tabernacle

Closed roads around Dumfries today saw me take a detour to get back on my route to the hills. An interesting detour as it turned out saw my attention caught by this roadside place of worship —

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It reminded me of the tin or clapboard roadside churches I saw as I passed into Arkansas from Oklahoma State while on my way to Hot Springs and Little Rock. That really is the ‘Bible Belt’ with ‘happy clappy’ churches and wealthy preachers.

I have been looking at an interesting dam on my Ordnance Survey map for some time and today was the day for a visit. Not the clearest of days but warm and dry with the hint of clear skies —

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Looks like an earth-fill dam under that grass —

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With a few fishing boats in the water ready for the new season. But I wasn’t fishing today – I was out for a walk and was spoilt for choice with the Southern Upland Way passing right across the dam on it’s way to the east coast. Well that’s what it looked like on the map but the ‘ealth n’ safety jobs worths’ got here before me and locked the gate —

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No worries – there was a decent road heading south along the lochside and off I went.

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The tarmac turned to dirt by the time I reached the head of the loch but a lone stunted pine gave me something to aim for —

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Next on the list was a lonesome alder beside a sad looking bridge – a picnic spot if ever there was one —

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I reckon that’s a grey squirrel trap on the boundary of Dumfries & Galloway and South Lanarkshire. They were set on poles over each stream and river crossing in the area.

Time for tea —

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With a view —

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Then it was just a case of following the river back down to the loch —

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I wasn’t even missing my bike which was all sorted – ready for a sunny Sunday but pushed into second place when I decided to get some exercise instead.

Until I stopped in New Galloway for tea and a scone on my way home and got talking to Wally from the Hillybilly Club who was down from Kilmarnock for a run round by Portpatrick and other places —

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Nah – only joking – I will catch up with my biking soon enough. Got another meet arranged with my Glasgow surgeon mid-April —

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So long as I stay fit and well I’m sure it will just be a formality 🙂

 

The Tin Tabernacle

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2014 in out and about

 

Birthday Treat

Lorraine at homeWhen you don’t see much of your children it’s great to have that ‘special day’ now and again. Daughter Lorraine found time to come south from her home in the Trossachs to meet me in Moffat – roughly halfway between our respective homes and just a mile from the M74.

Moffat turned out to be ideal for both of us. Her golden retriever the ever present Lady Bella was raring to go by the time we met in the empty car park on the outskirts of town. A quick look at the nearby notice board listed numerous walks in the area varying from 4 – 12 kms in length. Moffat doesn’t claim to be the ‘Walkers Town’ for nothing..

The 4k walk by the riverside looked promising and we opted for that. It was getting on for lunchtime anyway so we weren’t going to be too ambitious. Bella loved it and it wasn’t long before she was cooling off in the clear waters of the river beside us as we enjoyed our chat along the tree lined bank.

Walking on a sandy trail by the clear fast flowing waters were a treat after a diet of the muddy waters and banks of the Dee Estuary. I’ve been in Moffat many times on my bike but the clutter of bike gear doesn’t lend itself to much exercise and I seldom venture further than the town centre Rumblin Tum for a coffee when I’m travelling on two wheels.

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The Rumblin Tum was where we were going next and they didn’t let us down. Lunch was good and the comfy sofa’s by the low tables in the window suited our informal mood. Lunch over we disturbed Lady Bella from her sleep in the car and took a walk round town. Unlike many towns of a similar size Moffat appears to be booming. Yes there are a few Charity shops but nothing to indicate that it is other than a thriving market town catering for surrounding country folk and tourists alike.

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Walking and talking proved to be thirsty work so when we found an attractive looking American Diner styled café we had but one thought —

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It was like old times as we played Noughts and Crosses with the tabletop set and enjoyed the atmosphere which was helped along with the music coming from old-fashioned vynil played on a proper record player. Part of the café sold antiques and upstairs had a selection of old style clothing where we had fun with the pink wig —

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All too soon it was time to leave —

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Moffat – a marvellous find and I’m sure it won’t be long before our roads meet there again —

My Ladies

 

If that was my ‘Birthday Treat’ I would be quite happy to have a birthday every day 🙂

Birthday Treat

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in out and about

 

Lunch with the Covenanters

Covenanters 042Walk on almost any secluded hill and glen down here in Galloway and you will come across a memorial to the Covenanters who were sorely persecuted for their faith way back in the late sixteen hundreds.

Today was no different when after an evening out celebrating my birthday I thought I had better go and walk off some of the extra pounds I had accumulated.

With my head telling me I wouldn’t need full wet gear and the forecasters telling me something else I took the belt and braces approach and headed onto the rolling hills ready for any storm that might come along.

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Must admit I had to push myself for my right knee was feeling every one of it’s seventy two years and is getting to the stage that I might have to follow my consultants advice and have the joint renewed.

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Maybe – but I have a fear of hospitals and have seen enough of them in the past year and a bit so no doubt I will suffer for some time yet before I go under the butchers knife.

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The weather held and shortly after missing a photo of two roe deer bounding away for the cover of a fir plantation – I came in sight of the stand of Scot’s Pine which marks the spot where the Covenanters held there conventicle way back in 1685.

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I hunkered down out of the wind to share my oaty bread and chorizo with the worshippers and heard the voice of the early Presbyterian minister ringing out over the hillside as he chastised his secret flock for their sins.

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There are no Redcoats with fixed bayonets on their muskets up here today chasing us over hill and glen so I rested my back against the monument —

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as I ate my lunch in peace under a canopy of Caledonian Pine —

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with a more modest memorial at my feet —

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I may have missed the roe deer earlier but I did catch a pair of red kites  gliding gracefully on the thermals —

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Oh yes – they are up there and it’s amazing just how much ground they can cover with scarcely a wing beat as they search the hills and bogs for food.

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Seems I got my timing spot on for no sooner was I back in the house than the heavens opened and down came the rain.

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But not on my parade 🙂

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2014 in out and about

 

Kissing Cousins

There they are – the Kissing Cousins – both from the same fibreglass mould – high and dry where wind and tide has parked them. I left them to it and set off on my walk across the fields —

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But not before a quick scan of the note on the gate —

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There are no dogs around today causing mayhem and no cattle either. The fields that usually carry several head of good stock over the winter are remarkably bare of cattle —

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But there are changes in farming methods afoot. Some are building massive sheds to overwinter the cattle and the grass fields are being used to give three crops each year of what is mainly silage. In many cases the beef we eat is coming from beasts that seldom see the light of day. I remember it happening in my father’s time and he felt so strongly about it that he left the farming industry and went off to drive a truck. A man of principle was my dad – for all the good it ever did him.

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Just as I do he would have loved this part of the world but after a lifetime of hard work he popped his clogs a couple of weeks after retiring. He wouldn’t have known how to spend his leisure time anyway —

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Walking the hills and glens in those days was for tourists in his eyes —

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Well if he had been with me today he might have changed his mind. A clifftop rock padded with empty rucksack and fleece for a seat —

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with a view over the birds on the rocks to the passing lobster boat would have suited him just fine —

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It certainly warmed up out there today. My mother would say ‘never cast a cloot till May is oot’ in her broad Aiberdeen accent but unlike me – she obviously didn’t subscribe to Global Warming —

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I started off  with Kissing Cousins and have ended with mum and dad! This is definitely one for the family album  🙂

Kissing Cousins

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2014 in out and about

 

Water of Fleet

The Galloway Hills are full of surprises and coming across these falls on my walk this afternoon was a pleasant one —

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Ok – it may not be in the same class as Niagra Falls but everything is relative. This is the Water of Fleet – not the mighty St Lawrence and it wasn’t such a bad place to spend a half hour with my tea and sannies —

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I would be embarrassed if I had to tell you how many photos I took of these boiling waters as I sat by the pool – let’s just say it was a lot and I was spoiled for choice when putting this wee tale together —

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I wasn’t tempted to go for a swim this afternoon although I confess I’ve skinny dipped in smaller pools than that while climbing mountains on a hot summer’s day —

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The dirty scum in the back eddies makes me wonder what rubbish the river is picking up between the headwaters and here because above the falls it’s mainly forestry plantations while downriver it flows through native birch and alder —

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No matter – I didn’t raise a sweat today and you will be pleased to note my clothes stayed on —

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In any case – I wouldn’t want to frighten the wildlife. Not that there were any out and about up there today. No cattle or sheep either and this stylish old hayshed which would once have stored winter fodder stood empty apart from the old Jones baler. I remember stacking bales on a sled towed behind one of those balers in my youth but I’ve no doubt ‘elf ‘n safety would take a dim view of that method of work in today’s ‘enlightened’ times —

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Spring was definitely in the air as I came down out of the hills. A couple of Herons were performing ungainly aerial gymnastics as they cavorted above a rush choked pond until a pair of the hawk species – possibly peregrine falcons from their pale undersides and the silvery glow on their backs – sped down out of the woods and chased the herons out of sight. The action was all over in what seemed like an instant but it certainly livened up my day – and the heron’s too no doubt 🙂

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Sorry but I’m not David Attenburgh and I didn’t get a photo of our feathered friends in aerial combat so you will just have to make do with another one of Upper Rusko Falls. The grass tassles left by the flood water on the alder branches give a measure of just how much water has been thundering over these rocks in recent months.

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But – just in case the sight of all that water is having an adverse effect on the readers – perhaps this photo showing beautiful new growth on a moss covered boulder might be a better way to end my walk 🙂

Water of Fleet

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2014 in out and about

 

Tenere at Loch Ken

It was my turn to block a bridge today —

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But I was just playing games for my camera in the rare sunshine. If Mr Farmer had come along with his big four wheel drive tractor I would have been out of there sharpish. In fact I had found a perfect spot for my picnic lunch just over the bridge in a park beyond a wicket gate and it didn’t look as if this track had been used for a long time —

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I had the place all to myself so I chose a bench with a view —

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There are wild geese way down there on the bank – wait a mo’ and I will bring them closer —

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My route had taken me up the dark side of the loch on greasy roads but the Tall Ten is sure-footed on it’s Metzler Tourance tyres so there’s never a slip nor slide on the way —

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I even took time out to stop for photos of the water rushing down off the hillside and white clouds reflecting on a calm Loch Ken —

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before swinging round the top of Loch Ken by New Galloway and enjoying the dry tarmac down the sunnyside – with more stops on the way —

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The bridge way down there in the distance is the one I walked over yesterday in the rain —

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Three spans wide – a thing of beauty from the steam age – it’s a shame to let it go to waste —

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But I settled for a smaller much safer one over what would have been the original railway cutting on the line just a smidgeon north of the village of Parton and took time to pose for a quick ‘selfie’ before getting back on the road —

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Tenere Topics

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Across Loch Ken – on Foot

I did think I was going to be able to cross this old railway bridge —

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and cross it I did. Only to find my route to the main road on the far side blocked by a locked gate surrounded by barbed wire where the old railway embankment meets a caravan site called Alcatraz  —

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In many parts of the world this crossing would be classed as the main road but in current day UK where Jack the Jobsworth holds all the Aces it’s classed as dangerous —

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Maybe I should have taken note but ask yourself – ‘why did the chicken cross the road’?

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‘To get to the other side of course.’ Particularly when there is an Orkney Longliner down there to look over. Just another one in the long list of ‘big boys toys’ I would like to have in my toy box —

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She was on an ‘away day’ from Lake Windermere and she went back on the trailer and straight down the road behind a big Trannie van with only two small pike to show for her long distance fishing trip —

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It wasn’t a day for hanging around so after another butchers from the bridge at the view down a driech Loch Ken —-

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It was time to head back over the hill to my car.

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I’ve got to say the snazzy new jaikit bought in a sale recently is remarkably waterproof considering she cost less than forty quid and she was well tested out there today 🙂

 

Across Loch Ken – on Foot

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2014 in out and about