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Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Around Edinburgh

I said a few days ago that I would mention more about the explorations Don, Nancy and I did after lunch at the Sheep Heid Inn in Duddingston. From there we took a drive round Arthur Seat, the volcanic hill in the centre of the area taken in by the city of Edinburgh

Not the usual view of Arthur Seat. This is the back of the hill, taken from Duddingston.
You can see the usual view and get more info on the park here
Anyway, to give you a picture of the layout I'm talking about, think of a road with a right hand loop in it, the loop having a hill in the middle, and a small loch (Scots for lake) at about the 5 o'clock position. That is Duddingston Loch and beside it the village of Duddingston including the Sheep Heid Inn.

Inside the Sheep Heid Inn

Round about 9 o'clock there is the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Palace and at about 10 another small loch, St Margaret's Loch, where swans glide elegantly over the water,

overlooked by a ruined chapel dedicated to St Anthony.

Here the loop road begins to spiral up around the hill, past a third loch, Dunsapie (pronounced Dun-SAPpy) - an artificial loch created when the road round the hill was constructed - with a swan sitting on eggs on the purpose-built nesting raft in the middle. Now there are views out over the eastern side of the city at first - on a clear day you can see for miles, out to East Lothian, with Berwick Law quite visible about 25 miles away, even on the hazy day we had - opening up into further views to the south and west as the road continues round the hill.
Now the road is running parallel to the Duddingston road with views down on to the loch and village. Craigmillar is in the distance, the castle there being the one Mary stayed in when she returned from France as Queen of Scots in the 1500s.

Blackford Hill,with the Royal Observatory on its slope, is not too far away, and beyond are the Braid Hills and the Pentlands. Click here for the view back at Arthur Seat and the Crags from Blackford Hill.

Further round still, the cliffs of the Salisbury crags come into view and the Edinburgh old town ridge is clearly visible on the skyline. Here we reach the point where the road joins the road from Duddingston to complete the circle. To our left is the road back to Duddingston and to our right the road to Holyrood and Dunsapie Loch again. Straight on takes us out of Holyrood Park, also known as the King's or Queen's Park depending on the gender of the reigning monarch. Beneath the Crags is a path that has been nicknamed the Radical Road. It was the idea of Sir Walter Scott, to provide work for "radical weavers from the west of Scotland"!

At various entrances to the park the lamps on the gateposts bear the royal crown. This one at Duddingston is just a little bit squint (askew). ~ Tell me, is that word squint meaning askew, a Scottish use of the word?

The gorse is out on the hillside of Arthur Seat, and this is a particularly good year for the coconut scented yellow blooms.

This was also the day we drove down to Leith to visit the ancestral home of James Gall, so here are a couple of pictures I took down there.

I don't think I mentioned that old JG wrote in his journals that the railway line from Edinburgh to Granton was built in his time and that it went right underneath his garden.
This is the tunnel with the house (actually an extension of the house) at the top left of the photo. It's just a pathway now, no trains having run this way for years.

Here's the station - now a very attractive private house - JG would have used if he travelled by train from the city. More often than not he just walked!!!

And one last photo is of the Royal Yacht, Britannia, formerly the floating home of recent royalty, but now retired from service and acting as a visitor attraction at Ocean Terminal, a new shopping mall where the old Leith docklands used to be!

Talk again soon.

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