As ever, this one wasn’t planned. I turned out of Waverley Station one Bank Holiday Monday and decided to go for a wander around the capital. I walked up the eastern side of St. Andrew Square and looked down Dublin Street towards Fife. It’s one of my favourite views, standing at a high point looking down on city greenery and houses before the blue Forth and Fife rising high behind. This particular Monday I had no plan and decided to walk down Dublin Street, maybe towards the Botanic Gardens but instead to the Scotland Street railway tunnel. Once railways ran all across Edinburgh, the network much curtailed now. Work has been done to open up old railways as footpaths and one runs from Royal Crescent in the New Town all the way to Wardie Bay at Granton. I decided to take it, stopping first to read an information board which talked about St. Bernards, one of Edinburgh’s football teams, who used to play at a nearby ground now occupied by industrial premises. Trains ran through a tunnel from here to Waverley Station, a mile or so to the south. Today a basketball court sits in front of the gated-off tunnel, the sounds of play from the nearby adventure playground far louder than the echoes of trains that once ran.
Another tunnel ran under Canonmills, liberally daubed with graffiti and lit by narrow artificial lights and the bright sunlight at the other end. I soon came to the side of a Tesco, the path splitting there, and then near Warriston, a rugby pitch to the left and the Earl Haig poppy factory to the right, the Water of Leith wending its way under and through. Signs pointed in three directions, to cycle or walk to Goldenacre, Trinity, Newhaven and Granton one way, back to the city centre or even to Bonnington and Leith east. Bridges crossed overhead on a regular basis, the street signs giving an indication of how far I had walked. One, near Ferry Road, was long, cool and dark, a slightly eerie feel to which a photo could do no justice to convey.
The path wound round and a house stood, a wall at just the right height for a platform, the house with a canopy at the front. Someone lived there, which was cool, the palm tree giving an unreal air to the whole spectacle. Barely an hundred yards later, I reached the main road, now at the end of the Trinity Path, having covered the Warriston Path too. I could see the Forth and the gas rings at Granton, Fife beyond. I turned right towards Newhaven where I stood by the lighthouse and looked out. The railings were lined with padlocks, marking eternal love, while I reflected that nothing is ever permanent and new uses are found for the old, the long view rather than just living in the moment.