It’s slow going with the walking so far this year – life is just too busy at the moment!
Never mind, the kitchen is nearly finished at least and I’m hopeful the weather is going to improve. I’m reliably informed that daffodils are blooming in Cornwall – surely it can’t be too long before we see them up here too! However, although the snow has all gone for now – the rain is back!
Last weekend whilst the snow was still lying in parts, Mr RR and I took a 6 mile ramble along the Teviot accompanied by middle son. It was very icy underfoot and hard going in parts, but despite the need to constantly watch where my feet were going I did enjoy it.
We’ve also managed a couple of short local walks in between storms and floods but I’m itching to get out and about a bit more now. Sadly its not going to happen this week…..but watch this space, there are some keen walkers around and about and I’m hoping to join them for some exercise very soon.
Kelso circular via Roxburgh (6 miles)
This is a walk we did when we were visiting the area back in July and you can read about it here: (Kelso). It was raining then but this time its dry and very cold with snow still lying on the ground in places. The path along the river bank is icy and patterns of ice have formed in the little inlets along the way:
Just love patterns in nature….don’t you?
Now, the river bank is also ‘littered’ (is that the right word?) with mole hills!
…..so he scraped and he scratched and scrabbled and scrooges, and then he scrooges again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped, working busily with his little paws, and muttering to himself, “Up we go! Up we go!” till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight……. (The Wind in the Willows) and Mrs RRs boot landed on his snout…..no, it just wouldn’t do!
A quick search of the internet via good old google, brings up hundreds of websites dedicated to telling you how to get rid of moles…..but not a lot of information about these tiny carnivorous creatures themselves. I wanted to know why there were molehills now…..there certainly weren’t any when we were here back in July and also – would they have drowned when the river flooded or do they just move house quickly?.
The Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust has some interesting facts (www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/animal-facts/mole) including the information that moles tear off the heads of worms first when feasting on them, so that they can’t crawl away but remain alive providing fresh food for several months! And then I find Animal Corner (animalcorner.co.uk/animals/british-moles/) and am informed that large mole hills may be formed when the soil is shallow or subject to flooding. They can be up to a metre high, when they are known as ‘fortresses’ and contain the nest chamber and several radial tunnels. So I guess the molehills here are down to the flooding (although they aren’t ‘fortresses’) – anyone has any more info, do tell!
We also find hundreds of little bulbs lying on top of the soil and just sprouting:
We surmise that they are wild garlic either pushed up on top of the soil by the flood water or the soil has eroded away as the flood water receded and left them exposed.
The river is fast flowing, there are plenty of herons and goosander,
and we stop to watch a duck paddling madly to try and reach the opposite bank as he is carried rapidly downstream by the current; eventually he remembers he can fly and manages to take off, heading in the right direction but lands gracelessly further upstream and in the middle of the river again!
We carry on, leaving the riverside path and walking briefly inland through the hamlet of Roxburgh before crossing the river via the iron bridge under the viaduct.
Shortly after this our path turns left and we head back towards Kelso along the disused railway track. We’re up above the river here and it’s even icier underfoot. The path is lined with hawthorn bushes and there are bird’s nests perched among the branches:
We spot a pair of bullfinches along the way and apparently these bushes often contain flocks of redwing and fieldfare, but we don’t see any this time. We do see some sheep, one of which took a break from grazing in the snowy field to stand and stare at us and we stood and stared right back of course:
At this point on the path the instructions get a little confusing. Last time we ended up walking back into Kelso via the busy A1 and we’re keen to avoid that experience this time so we spend some time trying to decipher the route.
Just when we’re sure we’ve worked it out and make our way through a small wood, we find that a gate across the track has been locked shut as there are horses in the woods and they have previously escaped through the gate (so clever) and onto the road. We discuss turning and walking back through the wood back but we’re reluctant and so, confidently, I suggest we climb an iron gate which will get us quickly onto the path we need.
The two Mr RRs agree and nimbly hop over, leaving me on the wrong side. I climb the bars, handing over my camera to Mr RR for safekeeping. And then……I can’t do it! I can’t get my leg over the top of the gate and put my foot down in the right place to get me down the other side. Mr RR1 and Mr RR2 find this hilarious for some reason and amidst hysterical giggles throw instructions at me…..’turn around’, ‘no not that way’, ‘put your foot here’, ‘no, the other way round’ and so on and on! At one point I nearly slip off the top of the gate and still they laugh! Eventually I take a deep breath, think logically, and heave myself over. The Mr RRs are beside themselves and chuckle for the next 10 minutes before suddenly remembering that they were the ones with the camera and they didn’t think to get a picture! Ha…..so I think I had the last laugh!
Total miles walked this year…… 14.5.
Artwork for Ricketyrambler by Andrew Major