Virtual Loose Ends IV: Churches and barometers

Welcome to this fourth instalment of Virtual Loose Ends, a virtual adventure around Scotland, travelling by connection. We paused last week on Arthur’s Seat, the hill which dominates Edinburgh. We continue from Salisbury Crags, just downhill, a series of cliffs which look over the west of the capital, connected to Arthur’s Seat by geography and geology, certainly.

St. Patrick’s Church: a church in yellow sandstone with a central tower with a green top.

Nearby is St. Patrick’s Church in the Cowgate. St. Patrick’s is known as being where Hibernian Football Club was founded in 1875 by the Catholic Young Mens Society. A plaque to this effect sits just inside the main door of the church. It is a particularly fine church and I recommend a visit to explore it properly.

Hampden Park, during a Queen’s Park game – a large football ground with a game in progress. The seats opposite are red and blue with white writing on them spelling out ‘HAMPDEN’.

Arguably the greatest day in the history of Hibernian Football Club happened on 21st May 2016 at Hampden Park in Glasgow when Hibs won 3-2 against The Rangers to lift the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years. I suspect I don’t mention it here very often. Hampden Park is Scottish football’s national stadium, for a little while longer also the home of Queen’s Park. In its heyday Hampden attracted well over a hundred thousand people to big matches, hosting European finals, internationals and of course Cup Finals. A more modest 52,000 capacity exists today. Also at Hampden is the Scottish Football Museum, an interesting look at the history of the game in all its facets.

Hamilton Crescent: a cricket ground with houses and trees in the background.

The first football international didn’t take place at Hampden, the third Hampden nor the first two, but at a cricket ground, Hamilton Crescent in Partick, which was then, as now, the home of West of Scotland Cricket Club. I’ve walked around its perimeter and while I have utterly no interest in cricket, I can see that it would be a fine place to watch it or indeed a proper sport.

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh: tall redwood trees amidst other trees on a sunny day.

I am astonished that the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh has not featured in Loose Ends already, being one of my favourite places on the planet and a place I like to go to to think, reflect and read from time to time. The Botanics also features a very fine view across Edinburgh and plant collections from across the world. My favourite spot is under the sequoias. There are really few finer places. It connects with Hamilton Crescent since near to RBGE is a cricket ground, The Grange.

Benmore Botanic Garden: a grove of redwood trees leading to the centre of the image.

Benmore Botanic Garden is on a hill in Argyll not far from Dunoon. It has a sequoia grove near its entrance and I never fail to feel uplifted when I walk between them. Benmore is part of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Scotland, as is the Edinburgh Garden. It is hilly though has a pleasant green at the bottom with a burn. I’ve been there in a few weathers and it is always worth spending a few hours there.

Neptune’s Staircase: a set of canal locks leading upwards.

Ben More is a mountain, as is Ben Nevis. In the shadow of Ben Nevis is Neptune’s Staircase, a series of locks which are part of the Caledonian Canal and designed by Thomas Telford. It is a fascinating place, simple scientific principles put to work by complex design.

Well, that’s another Virtual Loose Ends. Thanks for reading. We will continue next week with a more maritime connection. Until then, keep safe. Cheers just now.

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