Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fourmerkland Tower

If you were driving along this little road, one of many between Dumfries and Dunscore, it is unlikely that your attention would be drawn to this wood, set back of the road a little, across a field. But it does contain a wonderful, secret place.

When you look into the wood, the first obstacle is an overgrown pond. There's no evidence that this was a curling pond, however. That's not the reason I was exploring earlier this week.

What you have to do is follow the rough track around the wood, to its west side.

And here it is - Fourmerkland Tower, a well preserved, though currently unoccupied, sixteenth century fortified house. More details here, and here.

It's a place I've been meaning to visit for a while, and I picked an early spring day before the trees are in leaf, which would hide the tower house even more. It is a magical place!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Monday, March 26, 2012

Standing in a field

It's officially spring, and the daffodils are beginning to put on a show. But I've not been spending too much time in the garden.

Saturday, for example, saw me standing in a field near Crawford, with my eyes fixed on the West Coast Main Line.

This is what I was waiting for. 70013 Oliver Cromwell pulled the Railway Touring Company's 'The Auld Reekie' tour from Edinburgh to Manchester.

There's a real thrill in seeing steam on the main line!

With the excursion having a scheduled stop at Beattock, I was able to overtake in time to see the train pass down Annandale near Skip, in the early evening with the mist closing in, Langside on the hill in the background.

Photos © Skip Cottage.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Saturday at the Citadel

I enjoyed a couple of hours trainspotting last Saturday. It was a busy day at Carlisle station for the rail enthusiast. First through was Statesman Rail's diesel hauled tour, Nottingham to Fort William, see here.

The train was pulled by this Class 47 locomotive, 'Roy Castle', see here.

Next to arrive was Earl of Mount Edgcumbe ...

... double headed with Princess Elizabeth hauling the Vintage Trains excursion, The Shap, Settle and Carlisle.

There's a really fabulous YouTube video of the two locomotives on Shap here!

The history of the GWR 4-6-0 Castle locomotive is here. It was built in 1936, withdrawn in 1963, and restored and mainline certified in October 2008.

Read about the LMS 4-6-2 locomotive here.

When I was a lad in the early 1960s, I remember casting a lonely figure at the platform end at St Enoch station. Not so these days. The appearance of a steam loco brings out the crowds.

The Earl gets ready to pull the tour over the Settle line, on its own after Princess Elizabeth had failed at Carlisle.

And yet more! Pathfinder Tours' Cumbrian Mountain Express was hauled into Carlisle by this Class 67 diesel locomotive 67025 'Western Star'.

The carriages were far travelled.

The excursion was steam hauled on its return leg, Carlisle - Crewe, on the Settle line.

Old friend Britannia Class 7MT 4-6-2 no 70000 'Britannia' provided the horsepower.

Ready to go!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Saturday, March 10, 2012

March Rainbow

Showery weather at this time of year often gives rise to rainbows. I like rainbows, although the pot of gold would come in particularly useful these days.

What with the current price of gold, are rainbows a good investment?

This one didn't hang around for long yesterday evening. It was already disappearing as I tried to get it in the background to the standing stone in the field opposite Skip!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Friday, March 02, 2012

First Yellow

I've not seen much sun this week, but it has been mild. It IS still winter though, but spring cannot be far away. These yellow crocuses always bring a smile.

I had more in this container, but the second layer of bulbs, early tulips, are way behind.

Lots of snowdrops, now beginning to go over.

These borders will soon be bright with daffodils.

Do you see the speck of yellow in the foreground?

These little narcissus have already decided that it is spring!

Photos © Skip Cottage