Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dawyck Botanic Garden

Rob and I had a trip to the Scottish Borders today. We started out with a visit to Dawyck Botanic Garden. The garden has a superb tree collection, as well as many shrubs and herbaceous plants. The fir trees, and rhododendrons were spectacular and there were carpets of blue bells and some beautiful meconopsis to see.

You can see views of Dawyck House (below) from various points in the garden. There are many trails and paths to follow, so you could easily spend 1 - 2 hours wandering around.

The function of this mysterious little building was not mentioned on the map, but I think it might be an ice house.

Scrape Burn runs from top to bottom of this sloping garden and provides some refreshing movement and sound.

We ended our visit with lunch in the cafe, which was really excellent. Lots of home cooking with local ingredients. We enjoyed jacket potatoes with cheese, coleslaw and side salad, cappuccino and Early Grey tea for under £17. The salad was fresh and crunchy, the homemade coleslaw included apple and sultanas and the potatoes were perfectly baked with tasty cheese. Some of the best we've tasted (and we've eaten quite a few over the years!).

The small shop has lots of interesting seeds: Rob choose some Scottish wildflowers to attract bees and I bought some pink oyster mushroom spawn. I have tried several times to grow mushrooms, with very little success, so fingers crossed!

We went on to the picturesque town of Peebles afterwards, which was lovely - lots of small, interesting shops, including delis, clothing shops, cafes and restaurants. Also a handful of charity shops, which were ideal for me to search for buttons :) All-in-all a very nice day out!

Monday, May 07, 2012

Cherry Blossom

Here is a collage of photos taken of our flowering cherry tree. The tree looks like quite an old crock - heavily pollarded before we moved in 13 years ago - but still produces this beautiful display of blossom every year.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Hoddom Farm Walk

Rob and I went on a four mile walk at Hoddom Estate, along the bank of the River Annan and on quiet roads back to the castle. The walk is described on the Visit Scotland site here. It is a flat walk, but over uneven ground, with steps in places.

This is Hoddom Bridge with a carpet of ransoms in the foreground, just in flower, along with the bluebells seen elsewhere in the woodland.

This is the Hound's Monument, erected beside the river in memory of an otter hound called 'Royal', he died in the winter of 1898 having spent too long in the water in pursuit of an otter.

Some primroses at the base of one of the many huge, old trees seen on the walk.

A new feature since our last visit: a carved tree trunk showing rocks on one side, spawning salmon on the other.

It was lovely to see the clouds of swallows feeding on insects above the river. Here are a few taking a well-earned rest after their recent journey from Africa.

 Another wood carving showing an otter, salmon and bird of prey (the bird is around the other side!).

An information board tells you about the life cycle of the salmon. The wall with the orange balls represents the fish eggs in the gravel of the stream. The Water of Milk joins the Annan just above this point.

The walk passes along small back roads after that, past an abandoned mill and a farm. You loop back round to approach the castle from a different perspective. We treated ourselves to a bag of hot, salty chips (£2.25 per portion for the hand cut chips) from the Hoddom Castle takeaway. You can also have a sit down meal in the bar.

There is a caravan/camping site with 'pods' if you want to stay at the Castle. There are several other walks to be done locally, including woodland walks at Woodcockair, a visit to Repentance Tower, or a stroll round the golf course next to the river.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Catbells Walk, English Lake District

Rob and I went on a walk up the mountain called Catbells, near Keswick in the Lake District yesterday.

A similar walk (Walk 17) can be found in the book below.

A view of Derwent Water as we start to climb.

Approaching the peak. Erk! Looks quite steep. There is a section of rock outcropping that you have to scramble over.

Views from the summit over the valley. I think the roses in the foreground must have been a memorial for someone.

Another view from the top, with Bassenthwaite on the top left and the end of Derwent Water to the right.

Coming back down to earth to walk along the base, next to the lake.

Here is a photo that I took of Catbells from Latrigg in January 2008. The ridge looks impossible to walk along at that distance! It is apparently named for the wildcats that used to live there in the past.


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