Saturday, January 14, 2012

Blue Skies and Concrete Roads

In the walks I make around Skip, this is my favourite tree, especially in winter. The old beech was looking great yesterday.

Locals around Wamphray no longer drive in straight lines. Most have learned where the worst of the potholes are and weave to avoid them. I have to pass this one most days and I keep forgetting about it especially after dark!

The best 'roads' in the area are in a most unlikely place - on the moorland accessed by the minor road that goes over to Boreland from Wamphray Bridge.

These concrete 'roads' are more than sixty years old, dating from World War 2. I'm rather fascinated by their history. Apparently, there was an artillery range up on the moors, said to be used by tanks. I've tried to find out more information. The helpful librarians at the Ewart Library in Dumfries were able to confirm the existence of a range (called the Gillesbie range (?), after the big house near Boreland), and I was able to look at a map which showed the existence of a 'trackway' on the moorland. This may have been to allow moving targets to be shot at.

I've yet to discover more details about the use of the range despite local enquiries, and searches on the Web. I'll keep at it.

Yesterday was such a beautiful day, that I went investigating. This is looking north from Winshields Hill. (Or should it be Windshiels, the name of a nearby house.)

These buildings date from the 1940s. But the forest plantation on the left is where the secret is hidden.

Here is the current satellite view, courtesy of Google maps. The looped route of the 'trackway' can still be seen.

I wasn't expecting to find evidence of any 'trackway' after all these years. Indeed, the trees have all been planted since the war ended. But here is the evidence. It makes sense that the trackway would be in a ditch, sunken from view, with the targets, whatever they were, held aloft.

Certainly, the line of the sunken trackway is quite evident. It's a bit of a spooky place I have to admit, but I did have a close encounter with a rather splendid fox which looked at me rather curiously!

Here is another concrete road on the south edge of the plantation.

End of a good day.

Photos © Skip Cottage, except as indicated.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Welcome sun in January

It is so nice to see a little sun at this time of year. This is looking north from Skip. There was encouragement then to make an inspection tour of the garden, really for the first time this year, aside from a quick check to see if there had been any storm damage last week. I was curious to see if there was any signs of growth, this winter having been so mild.

Many would consider me old-fashioned, but I still like heathers and have a number in the garden. This Erica is just coming into flower.

How do I tell these crocuses in this container that they are very early!

And this double primrose has a couple of white flowers!

No sign yet of snowdrops in the garden, but do you see what I see along the roadside?

Aren't they beautiful!

Looking round the garden though, there is so much work that has to be done, and could be done, in the months ahead. I wonder if 2012 will be a good year. First priority will be to clear away all the debris from last year, but there is time yet for this. And anyway, the curling season is at its busiest!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

What does 2012 have in store at Skip?

Happy New Year! It's the fourth of January already, and we've yet to see the sun at Skip in 2012. It's been a bit blowy in Annandale, but fortunately we missed the worst of yesterday's storm which hit the Central Belt so badly.

This winter continues to be very wet. Indeed I cannot think of one wetter in the ten years I've been here. I bought this Korean Fir as a small plant when I was setting out this part of the garden. It was well worth the trip up to The Tree Shop at Cairndow. It is a handsome tree, and seems to like its position. Lots of cones!

I've only made one resolution this new year, and that's not to procrastinate. I'm very good at putting things off. For example, I just never got round to posting about one enjoyable outing last summer, which saw me in England's only 'temperance pub' in Rawtenstall, see here. Dandelion and Burdock cordial gets my vote every time!

Rawtenstall was the start for a day on the East Lancashire Railway. Great fun. This is Bury station.

Steam too! BR Standard Class 4 2-6-4 Tank was on loan to the East Lancs Railway last year. Here are photos of its rebuild prior to that.

80080 runs round at Heywood.

My day ticket on the railway covered a visit to Bury Transport Museum. I was enjoying the training so much, that I nearly missed this out. I'm glad I didn't.

What an interesting place, with fascinating exhibits, and - as importantly - friendly and helpful staff.

The museum encourages children. I discovered this wardrobe and basket containing lots of period costumes for dressing up. There being no-one about, I had to take a photo. Just who is the big kid behind the camera?

Fingers crossed that I can keep well enough to look after the garden this year, and continue my explorations of our heritage railways!

Photos © Skip Cottage