This last ten days of May I have been in and around Edinburgh. This is my severalth visit to the Scottish capital, but the first in which I have experienced habitable conditions, my last few visits having been beset with monster gales, plummeting temperatures and snowstorms in July. In the twenties of Celsius each day with hardly a breeze or cloud in the sky, and before the main tourist season or out-of-school crush, I was blessed with the weather! My time was well-spent, hiking some 100 miles, by my humble estimation, and visiting some of the grander sights of the region. Our first stop was Vogrie Country Park, a massive estate of the eastern outskirts now owned and operated by the Midlothian County Council. So large is the estate, that despite the extra sunny day, we could still find remote meadows and glens without evidence of anyone else around.
After dinner on my second day in the city, I set out alone over the Braid Hills from Fairmilehead, near where I am staying. Making my excuses and departing politely after 8pm, I still had close to three hours light for walking, although I would say the sun properly set at about 10pm, the light lasted for another 45 minutes. This short and pleasant ramble will be described in my first blog installment of city walks, soon to come.
The following morning I started out from Balerno to do the entire length of the Water of Leith Walkway, from the suburbs, through the West End, and up to the harbor where it flows into the Firth of Forth, an exciting and in some parts breathtaking 13 mile winding course. Famously described as “a thread of silver in a ribbon of green,” this is one of the most beautiful of city walks anywhere in the world, but tricky to navigate the last 3 or 4 miles with many diversions due to the flood prevention works currently underway. This walk will also be described in full detail in the coming weeks.
A trip out to the beaches around Aberlady afforded us some time to pick our way around the small coves and admire the lighthouses and abandonded beaches of the Forth on a rare and beautiful sunny day. The afternoon was well enjoyed by all, until what was explained to me as a “haar”, an aggressive coastal fog particular to eastern Scotland, dramatically rushed in obscuring all and sent us on our way.
I managed two hikes over the northern part of the Pentland Hills during my stay. One short jaunt over two peaks during an evening and a full day exploring the valleys, forests and resevoirs. My final eight hour hike through the Pentlands left me with some glowing sunburn on my arms and neck, or to look at it more positively, a fine Scottish tan.
In summary, I should be able to demonstrate in some upcoming posts how Edinburgh is one of the best cities in Europe for walking. I hope I will have the opportunity to cover all of the city’s charted hikes in subsequent visits.