Union Canal

It feels particularly apposite to write about the Union in a week when very big Union flags have been in the news but this is about the far nicer prospect of the Union Canal, not the antics of certain clowns down at Westminster. It feels only right since I wrote about the Forth and Clyde Canal last week. The Union Canal runs from Fountainbridge in Edinburgh through the west of the capital and West Lothian out to Falkirk. I mostly know the Edinburgh section as far as Slateford, where it meets the Water of Leith, a waterway covered here a couple of weeks ago. The last time I was along there was a year past October when I walked along part of the Canal to Meggetland where the Hibs and Hearts development teams were playing. I think I walked part of the Water of Leith walkway first and remember going through Gorgie on the way. The aqueduct at Slateford is particularly fine – it runs adjacent to the railway and over the Water of Leith – and there’s a set of stairs leading down to the Water of Leith from the Canal. Fountainbridge has been poshed up in the last twenty years or so with offices and restaurants scattered around the side of the canal.

Union Canal and railway side by side at Slateford: a canal aqueduct to the left, railings above stone arches, with a similar looking railway bridge to the right. Trees and industrial premises are between them.​
Union Canal and railway side by side at Slateford: a canal aqueduct to the left, railings above stone arches, with a similar looking railway bridge to the right. Trees and industrial premises are between them.

I was just thinking about the Forth and Clyde and Port Dundas which is in Glasgow. Port Hamilton is the name of the area of Edinburgh at Fountainbridge and I wondered who Hamilton was. It was the Duke of Hamilton of the day, of course, and the Port there was built from 1818-1822, so Canmore tells me, to support Port Hopetoun, which was closer to Lothian Road. Canals were much more important then for industry and commerce at a time when railways were much more limited and roads were much less reliable. Port Hamilton was more for coal, while Port Hopetoun had a broader range of things going on. Port Hopetoun was filled in during the 1920s and its site is now a cinema.

As I said, I don’t really know the Union Canal outside of Edinburgh aside from its western terminus at the Falkirk Wheel. That even includes the section in Linlithgow, a town I know quite well. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to remedy that soon, especially since the John Muir Way runs by the side of the Canal in that part of the world. I realised just now, looking at a map of the John Muir Way, that I do know the Union Canal as it passes over the Muiravonside Country Park near Linlithgow – the same place where I learned what an aqueduct was. I always thought aqueducts were cool, a wonderful effort of engineering. Thankfully there’s quite a few along the Union Canal, making it of architectural interest, as much of history and natural beauty in many parts.

Thanks for reading. A piece about the North Sea will follow next week.

Saturday Saunter: Magic leaves

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on Monday night. In the background I have the launch of the Walter Scott 250 programme from Saturday, which is presented by Brian Taylor from Abbotsford. I went to Abbotsford a couple of summers ago and unsurprisingly the library is my abiding memory of the place, wood panelled yet well lit with an excellent vista over the Tweed. The launch featured a light show on Smailholm Tower, which I also visited a couple of years ago, and I have good memories of that place with a fine view over the surrounding hills and fields. I have a considerable backlog of videos and talks to catch up with and maybe I’ll manage some more of these over the weekend since Hibs aren’t in action.

Smailholm Tower: a tower house stood on a rock with a dramatic cloudy sky behind.​
Smailholm Tower: a tower house stood on a rock with a dramatic cloudy sky behind.

I’ve managed to work through a lot of my to-read list in recent weeks and finished two of the books I was working through, Hidden London and Hibs Through and Through: The Eric Stevenson Story. I have immersed myself in the various hidden places under London recently through the Hidden London Hangouts on YouTube and this book accompanies them, produced by some of the contributors from those videos who work at the London Transport Museum. It is a decent blend of photographs and historical details, delving into the growth of London and how it was ravaged by war. The most recent Hidden London Hangout, meanwhile, featured a place which I visited last year, the Mail Rail, the underground railway system which conveyed post under the streets of London. The Eric Stevenson book was very different though no less interesting in talking of the Hibs teams of the 1960s and 1970s. I have two books on the go now, plus an audiobook which I’ve been listening to as well. The audiobook is Ask An Astronaut by Tim Peake, which discusses Peake’s mission to the International Space Station as well as the behind-the-scenes bits about being an astronaut. I’m not far in and it’s seven hours long so it might be on the go for a while. I’m re-reading The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane, which I read for the first time about ten years ago. Macfarlane is one of my favourite writers and it felt like time to revisit his older works. The book I started tonight is From The Jaws Of Victory: A History of Football’s Nearly Men, edited by Adam Bushby and Rob MacDonald, an anthology of writings about football teams who nearly got there, with contributions from some of the best football writers out there, including Nicky Bandini, Giancarlo Rinaldi and Patrick Barclay. I’ve just started the first piece, about Bolton Wanderers in 1953, and it’s set to be a good one. I like to read a variety of different books – it keeps things interesting.

‘These are magic leaves we spread’. That was a phrase in the Walter Scott video of Smailholm Tower and I wholly agree with that. My love of reading is just as acute now as it was when I was a child, if not more so. Next in my to watch list on YouTube video is a short talk about relics of St. Cuthbert held at Durham Cathedral, a place Scott wrote about, randomly enough.

It has been cooler today than recent days, a colder wind blowing. The daffodils are coming out, though, and that’s a good symbol of spring, as is the reappearance of hayfever remedies in my house, unfortunately. The combination of nice weather and the potential of restrictions easing felt right.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 27th March 2021. Thanks for reading. As ever, I’m not sure what I’ll be posting on Wednesday. It might be about a waterway but I don’t know yet. Until then, cheers just now.

Forth and Clyde Canal

Spiers Wharf: warehouse-type buildings along one bank of a canal with boats lined up into the middle distance.
Spiers Wharf: warehouse-type buildings along one bank of a canal with boats lined up into the middle distance.

Before motorways and railways came canals. Scotland has a few and one passes through Glasgow, the Forth and Clyde Canal, which runs from Bowling on the Clyde to Grangemouth on the Forth. It joins with the Union Canal at Falkirk, meaning that there’s a water link between Scotland’s two biggest cities. Canals don’t convey that much freight any more but are places of leisure for the most part, with the towpaths often busy with walkers, runners and cyclists. Manmade waterways haven’t always interested me – I prefer the sea – but they have a beauty and a charm of their own, plus there’s usually a fair bit of history along the way. I was along part of the Forth and Clyde Canal in Glasgow recently and Scottish Canals have done their best to keep it interesting with interpretation boards and hoardings talking of the history of the place being passed through. Since it’s Glasgow the surroundings will no doubt have changed several times over the last couple of centuries. Spiers Wharf reminds me of Leith – it was a port as part of a huge industrial area – and that’s very much a complement. The first time I was there there was someone doing watersports on the canal there, being dragged along the water. A dog chased them along the towpath. Fun for all the family.

I don’t know the Forth and Clyde Canal so well in Glasgow, having only walked the section from Spiers Wharf to Ruchill Park. There is a nature reserve taking shape near Firhill Stadium and I was happy to see that it is being funded by the health board as well as the Council and other bodies. Nature gives us health. I wonder how many Partick Thistle fans have been tempted to stop on the towpath and watch their team while fans haven’t been allowed in the ground. The section of the canal near Firhill has some benches and it’s a nice place to stop and eat lunch and pass time.

Bowling: a harbour to the right opening out into the river to the left. An obelisk stands on the horizon to the left.​
Bowling: a harbour to the right opening out into the river to the left. An obelisk stands on the horizon to the left.

I know the canal better at Bowling, where it joins the Clyde. Bowling had a shipyard and nearby Old Kilpatrick was the end of the Antonine Wall, which stays quite near to the canal for most of its route. I’ve stopped at Bowling a few times, the last time last summer when it was novel to travel a few miles again. It’s an interesting, quite peaceful place and it has an incredible history that sometimes gets overlooked compared to its near neighbours Dumbarton and Clydebank, fine places though they both are.

Kelpies: silver steel sculptures featuring horses’ heads, one in side profile, the other with head up.​
Kelpies: silver steel sculptures featuring horses’ heads, one in side profile, the other with head up.
Falkirk Wheel: a boat lift which is stationary.​
Falkirk Wheel: a boat lift which is stationary.

Next to the Forth and Clyde Canal are the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel. I like the Kelpies – they seem to rise out of the landscape. The Falkirk Wheel is a miracle of engineering and it never ceases to fascinate me.

Somehow I’ve filled up a post about the Forth and Clyde Canal. To be fair it’s an interesting waterway. I think a post about the Union Canal might need to come next week, just to complete the set.

Saturday Saunter: Maps, bings and books

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on Tuesday night. It’s been a beautiful day here in Glasgow, sunny and quite pleasantly warm. Very Spring-like. Whether it will still be like that on Saturday as this is posted, who knows. I imagine as this is posted that I will be easing my way into the day gently before watching the football. As well as the Livingston-Hibs game, this weekend sees the return of League 1 and League 2 in Scotland after a couple of months hiatus, undoubtedly a good thing and more relevant than a certain game taking place at Parkhead this weekend.

Rosshall Park: a still pond surrounded by trees.​
Rosshall Park: a still pond surrounded by trees.

Maps have helped many of us through the last year of not being able to travel as much as we might like. I have a few, including a decent wedge of Ordnance Survey maps covering most of Scotland. Hopefully I will be able to use some after 26th April. The Ordnance Survey seem to have had a similar thought, taking the opportunity to ask its mailing list’s subscribers where they want to walk to once lockdown has concluded. Plus sell them maps. As for me, I will be consulting the Urban Nature map of Glasgow that I acquired recently and seeing where I could go for a walk in the meantime. For example, I had a very cool walk in Rosshall Park the other day and it felt a lot further out of the city than it actually is. Over the last year I have got to know some incredible places here in the city and even when it is possible to travel, I hope to still be a regular in quite a few of Glasgow’s fine parks.

The Guardian published an article about the bings of West Lothian, heaps of spoil from industrial workings that dominate the landscape, visible from the motorway and the railway. West Lothian is quite a fascinating part of the world, encompassing both the old Royal Burgh of Linlithgow, birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, born in the Palace by the Peel and Loch, and the New Town of Livingston, with its many roundabouts and football team who play at a stadium named after an Italian restaurant. The bings symbolise the depth of industrial history of the area, of shale and coal mining, and the Shale Trail looks like it will be a good addition to the area, using modern technology to tell the tales of the local area as people walk or cycle along the 16-mile route.

I’ve read quite a bit in the last few days. I’ve finished Nick Hewer’s autobiography and Antlers of Water, the anthology of Scottish nature writing I started last week. Antlers of Water is immense, very varied with poetry and all parts of Scotland covered by its various writers. Nick Hewer I enjoyed more as I got going as he talked about his journeys to farflung parts of the globe including Mongolia and Sierra Leone. I’ve been working between two books this week, the Eric Stevenson book I started a couple of weeks ago and Hidden London, about the abandoned and disused parts of the London Underground. My to-read shelf has two football books and a nature book so we’ll see I’m in the mood for next.

Before I go today, I’ve been thinking about how to write about the news of the weekend. I came to the conclusion that my voice is much less relevant than those of others. One is the mother of Moira Jones, who made a thoughtful statement on Tuesday.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 20th March 2021. Thanks for reading. A post will follow on Wednesday but I’m not sure what that’ll be just yet. Until then, cheers just now.

Trails

I was going through books recently and came across a bunch of Heritage Trail leaflets for different parts of Glasgow. The ones I’ve found are Pollokshaws, Crookston and Langside, all south of the river, though the Council have trails for quite a few parks and parts of the city on their website. There is also the St. Mungo Trail but that encompasses Traprain Law, Culross and various other places most definitely not in the City of Glasgow local authority area as well as Glasgow Cathedral, which is, thankfully. The Urban Nature map of Glasgow which I acquired recently shows parks, playing fields and public transport links though historical places is a wee bit beyond it. The Ordnance Survey Explorer Map for Glasgow (342) covers a lot of those though covering every historical place in Glasgow would need either a rather big map or teeny tiny writing. Glasgow has a very varied history and a lot of it is covered by themed trails and tours, such as those for football and the many from the Glasgow Women’s Library. There will probably be quite a lot of folk who have been doing the same walk throughout the various lockdowns over the last year and they will no doubt be experts on their particular patch and could do tours. ‘On your left is a kitchen showroom with a display showing the time, date and temperature. I was here when it was 27 degrees and when it was below freezing.’ ‘Ahead of you is a railway bridge conveying trains between Glasgow and Inverclyde and Ayrshire. The railway was opened in the 1840s.’ The mind boggles.

Glasgow Cathedral from the Necropolis on a sunny day: a large grey church with a green ​roof and a tower in the middle. To the left are trees and a graveyard. To the right are trees and a large, old hospital.
Glasgow Cathedral from the Necropolis on a sunny day: a large grey church with a green roof and a tower in the middle. To the left are trees and a graveyard. To the right are trees and a large, old hospital.

I might follow one of the ones nearest me one day soon and see where I end up, maybe Bellahouston Park’s one which talks a lot about the sculptures around the park.

A lot of cities and towns have a trail to follow so see if there’s one near you. If possible, follow it and see what you come up with. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Saturday Saunter: Tree roots, maps and old football grounds

Good Saturday to you,

Welcome to another Saturday Saunter, this time being written on Wednesday with The Chase on in the background for that’s how I roll. Not sure what I’m going to write this time but you can be assured that there will be no mention of the Earl and Countess of Dumbarton, a certain ex-morning TV presenter or of the scenes around Glasgow after a certain football team won the Scottish Premiership. As this is posted, I will probably be easing my way gently into the morning before watching the Hibs play Ross County later.

I’m now continuing this on Friday night with Dr Janina Ramirez on in the background talking about Turkey. I’ve been listening to a few virtual talks in the last couple of days as well as audio books and a radio documentary. The other night I listened to a documentary on Radio 3 about Fanny Dickens, Charles Dickens’s older sister, who was a particularly accomplished musician and, unusually for the mid-19th century, her parents paid for her to get an education. Coincidentally I was listening to an art lecture earlier about 1920s Scottish art and David Young Cameron was mentioned, as was his sister, Katharine Cameron, who was also a painter though again much less recognised. I also listened to a talk put on by the Bodleian Library in Oxford featuring Jim Akerman of the Newberry Library in Chicago and he talked about maps and how they relate to American identity, discussing travel by various groups for various purposes, including safe places for African American people to stay and travel to in the 1930s as well as the Underground Railroad.

 East Stand, Highbury: looking up at a building with an art deco tower with a glass frontage to the right.
East Stand, Highbury: looking up at a building with an art deco tower with a glass frontage to the right.
Cathkin Park: terracing with green and white barriers. Wintry, leafless trees stand behind the terracing.​
Cathkin Park: terracing with green and white barriers. Wintry, leafless trees stand behind the terracing.

While I have books on the go, I have been reading more magazines and audio books recently. I think both have their merits – in short, when it comes to reading, it all counts. I got my copy of the latest edition of When Saturday Comes the other day and read most of it in a single sitting, particularly interested in articles about commentators’ notes, the abuse that James McClean receives for choosing not to wear a poppy, and football stadiums which are no longer used for football. That last article suggests preserving parts of stadiums in whatever developments spring up on their site, for remembrance or just to preserve the heritage of the place. It shows Highbury, the former Arsenal ground which is now flats, and I can confirm that the development there is sympathetically done. It’s more unusual for traces of grounds to remain in any other way than a token memorial or street names. The Morrisons supermarket that sits on the site of Brockville, Falkirk’s old ground, is cool and has an old turnstile in the car park and Falkirk-themed photos around the walls of the shop. The only ones I know in Scotland that are still in situ are Cathkin Park, the second Hampden and former home of Third Lanark, and Firs Park, once East Stirling’s ground which is now derelict. I watched a YouTube video about Firs Park recently.

Despite growing up in East Lothian, I cannot claim to have explored every corner of my home county and of course I can’t go there at the moment. One place I haven’t visited is Inveresk Lodge Garden, a garden in Inveresk, just outside Musselburgh. The new edition of the National Trust for Scotland’s members magazine features an article about it written by Chitra Ramaswamy, for my money one of the finest journalists in Scotland, and there’s a line about lockdown walks that I really like. ‘Familiarity can breed obliviousness as well as contempt’. We don’t always see what’s happening around us, even if we often tread those paths.

Scottish readers will know that we’ve had a lot of rain in the last few days, often heavy showers. That’s okay as we haven’t had a lot of rain recently though of course I have successfully managed not to be caught in it. A couple of times this week I’ve nipped down to Rosshall Park, which is small but has a lot of interest. A few of the trees have deep, sprawling roots spreading down a slope towards the path I was walking on. I spent my last walk with my head up appreciating the varied tree skyline.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 13th March 2021. Thanks for reading, commenting and following. I’ve had a few kind comments about the Rivers post from Wednesday so thanks for those too. Next Wednesday’s post will be about Glasgow and maps. A very good morning to you all. Peace.

Rivers

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been writing about rivers. That’s been fun but I’m going to draw it to a close this week by talking about a range of other rivers that I might not know as well. Some are in England, others closer to home.

Kelvingrove Park: a river with autumn trees on either side ​and Glasgow University tower on the left.
Kelvingrove Park: a river with autumn trees on either side and Glasgow University tower on the left.

Glasgow, of course, has several rivers, including the Clyde, Kelvin and White Cart Water. The Kelvin runs through the west of the city, joining the Clyde by the Riverside Museum. What I didn’t know until just now as the Kelvin went off my map is that it starts near Kilsyth in East Dunbartonshire, stretching for about 22 miles. I know the Kelvin best as it wends through Kelvingrove Park, the University of Glasgow towering above. There it is an elegant river, surrounded by trees and elegant buildings. A riverside walkway does exist, going as far as Milngavie where it links with the West Highland Way, and one day I will try and walk some or all of it.

The White Cart Water runs not far from me; indeed, I caught sight of it earlier today while walking in Rosshall Park. The White Cart Water goes from the Clyde at Renfrew, through Paisley to Crookston and Pollok Country Park, ending at Eaglesham. What comes to mind when I think of the White Cart is the section by Pollok House with a weir and a small waterfall, as well as a pleasant stone bridge linking the park and the nearby golf course. I also think of it passing through Paisley, by the Town Hall, Abbey and Anchor Mill.

Durham: Two towers of Durham Cathedral ​on the left above trees. Trees line both sides of the river below the Cathedral.
Durham: Two towers of Durham Cathedral on the left above trees. Trees line both sides of the river below the Cathedral.

Down south, the Wear brings up Durham, the Cathedral and Castle high above, and Sunderland with an elegant green bridge joining the parts of that city together. The Thames has had a lot of words written about it and I know it right at the heart of London, crossed by many bridges, a dirty big river running through the metropolis. I also think of Mudlarking, the interesting book I read last year about the objects to be found by and in the river.

As a seaside person who now lives in a city, rivers have become ever more important as a way to be beside water as well as appreciate their own merits, whether beside wells, bridges or Magdalen Green. I’m lucky to be near three of them and they bring inspiration and interest in so many ways.

Saturday Saunter: Books and bird hides

Good Saturday to you,

It’s beginning to feel more like spring here in Glasgow. There’s more daylight, it has been fairly mild of late and the calendar has turned into March. While out walking I’ve seen a lot more crocuses and snowdrops, yellows, purples and whites. I like that. The utter cold and snow of a couple of weeks ago seems to have gone, which is undoubtedly a good thing. As this is posted, I might be out for a walk. Or not as I sometimes like a lie in. I’m writing this on Thursday night with Extraordinary Escapes with Sandi Toksvig on in the background. Sandi’s a good human.

I don’t know much about birds. I can recognise crows, robins, seagulls but not much in between. Birdwatching is an ever more popular pastime and one place people go to do that is by Loch Leven near Kinross, not to be confused with the other Loch Leven by Ballachullish. I read that the bird hide by Loch Leven was destroyed by a fire recently and that is sad. Loch Leven is beautiful, historically interesting and a place of nature despite being quite near the M90 motorway. People go there to rest and to find interest in the natural world. I’ve been to Loch Leven a couple of times, both on hot, summer’s days and the castle is one of the finest in Scotland, secluded on an island in the centre of the loch. I hope the crowdfunder to rebuild the hide achieves success for when people can travel to birdwatch once more.

It feels appropriate to have Sandi Toksvig on while thinking about Women’s History Month. The other day I watched a talk on Zoom presented by the National Library of Scotland about women walkers, featuring the author Dr Kerri Andrews and curator Paula Williams. It was interesting, talking a little about Nan Shepherd as well as other notable mountaineering women who I hadn’t heard of before. It prompted me to plonk one of my three copies of The Living Mountain back by my bedside – the slender white paperback one with a Dunbar Schools bookmark – and I’m looking forward to re-reading it soon. I’ve got a couple of books on the go just now and one of them is an audiobook of Made in Scotland by Billy Connolly, where funnily enough he talked about regularly re-reading his favourite book, Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, and buying copies for his friends and evangelising about it. I could relate.

I am writing this on World Book Day so it feels appropriate to write about what I’m reading. Billy Connolly, or at least his words read by Gordon Kennedy, has been my soundtrack to tidying and cleaning lately. I’ve got two other books on the go at present, Hibs Through and Through: The Eric Stevenson Story by Eric Stevenson and Tom Wright, which I’ve mentioned before and I’m enjoying, and Antlers of Water: Writing on the Nature and Environment of Scotland edited by Kathleen Jamie, which I started earlier and is also excellent, with a wheen of topics covered so far including radiation, wind turbines, red kites and ancient animals. The Eric Stevenson book is a decent one for before bed, the Antlers of Water more for the day. There seem to be good books for different types of day but I can’t quite explain which books fall into which category. I’ll have a think about that for next week.

Andrew Watson mural: a mural of a figure with crossed arms wearing a striped football jersey. There is a golden background with the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ to the bottom right.

After I finish those books, I’m going to read a new book I got recently, about Andrew Watson, the first black international footballer. He appears in a mural in Shawlands as well as on the side of the Hampden Bowling Club, the first Hampden. I was prompted to buy it after listening to a virtual tour of Hampden last week and I’m looking forward to reading it soon.

In a week when Scottish politics has been particularly toxic, one positive has been the debate on Thursday for International Women’s Day.

Also, I would like to share the excellent video shared by Dundee United FC in honour of World Book Day. Books and football are quite a combination.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today, Saturday 6th March 2021. Thanks for reading. There will be a post on Wednesday, possibly about a river, possibly not. Any suggestions are welcome. Until then, a very good morning to you all.

Water of Leith

Persevere: a slab on a pavement with the words ‘So With The Darkest Days Behind / Our Ship Of Hope Will Steer / And When In Doubt Just Keep In Mind / Our Motto Persevere’.​
Persevere: a slab on a pavement with the words ‘So With The Darkest Days Behind / Our Ship Of Hope Will Steer / And When In Doubt Just Keep In Mind / Our Motto Persevere’.

I think we can call this a series now. I’ve written about rivers the last few weeks so I might as well continue. I have a list of three that I could write about, and have photographs of, including today’s offering, the Water of Leith, which runs from the Pentland Hills right through Edinburgh to Leith where it flows into the Forth. The Water of Leith was once surrounded by mills and industries though today there are a few factories interspersed with flats, allotments, the Union Canal and Colinton Dell as the river wends its way out of the city. The Water of Leith Walkway runs for 13 miles from Leith to Balerno and I’ve walked all of it at one point or another, sometimes in sunshine, other times in rain or even with snow on the ground. The last time I was there was last summer, my only visit to Edinburgh in a year, and walked from Leith towards the city centre. It included stopping by the quotations inscribed on the pavement near Great Junction Street, including the ‘So with the darkest days behind / Our ship of hope will steer / And when in doubt just keep in mind / Our motto Persevere’. I’ve always rather liked that and it currently graces an advertising hoarding on the West Stand at Easter Road, even though it was actually to do with Leith Athletic rather than Hibs, I gather.

St Bernard’s Well: a classical statue of a man amidst curved pillars and a circular roof with trees behind.​
St Bernard’s Well: a classical statue of a man amidst curved pillars and a circular roof with trees behind.
Dean Village: buildings of various heights and colours at either side of a river. The building to the left is red with towers and windows protruding out.​
Dean Village: buildings of various heights and colours at either side of a river. The building to the left is red with towers and windows protruding out.

The Water of Leith also passes near some of Edinburgh’s foremost visitor attractions including the Royal Botanic Garden and the Modern Art Galleries. That section from Stockbridge to Roseburn is my favourite, going by St Bernard’s Well, under the Dean Bridge and through the Dean Village before winding past a weir on the way to Murrayfield. At the weir are benches in memory of those who have died from HIV and AIDS and it is one of the most beautiful spots in Edinburgh. I remember being able to go into St Bernard’s Well one Doors Open Day and it had information panels shedding more light on that particular stunning structure, designed by Alexander Nasmyth and based on the Temple of Vista in Italy. St Bernard’s was also a football team, incidentally, who played at the edge of the New Town near Scotland Street. They took their name from the Well, so Wikipedia tells me. Their name lives on in a couple of amateur teams in Edinburgh though they left the Scottish League around the Second World War. There’s a plaque to them in King George V Park, if I recall. The Dean Village, meanwhile, had many mills harnessing the Water of Leith though now it is pretty much residential and a pleasant part of town.

Colinton Dell: a weir with three streams of water falling. Around the river are autumnal trees.​
Colinton Dell: a weir with three streams of water falling. Around the river are autumnal trees.

Beyond Slateford is Colinton Dell, which is particularly stunning with a weir and woodland. Colinton Village comes next, which is a conservation village and every time I’m there I always marvel that this seemingly rural place is in the capital of Scotland and very near the City Bypass. In Colinton is the Colinton Tunnel which has been artistically decorated. Some day I’ll be able to go and have a look – it’s only happened in the last year or so. The walk leads out through Currie and Juniper Green to Balerno, which is a nice village in the lee of the Pentlands. Invariably the bus back into Edinburgh takes only a few minutes to cover what has been walked in a few hours. Thankfully the memories and the good vibes from the walk take longer to fade and they encourage me to plan a visit for when the time comes.