I took myself off on another lovely walk before choir practice one afternoon recently. It was a glorious day and and I decided to visit Swanston village on the very edge of the Pentland Hills, before heading into Edinburgh for the evening. The farm at Swanston goes back to the early 13th century when it was worked by a guy called Sveinn – Sveinn’s farm town. Over the centuries the name evolved to Swanston. The village of ten thatched cottages dates back to the 18th century while a group of stone cottages with slate roofs – New Swanston – was built in the early 20th century. The thatched houses beautifully restored about 20 years ago are very picturesque, and would probably have housed farm workers.
From the village – there was even a school there – a path leads to Allermuir and Caerketton the nearest of the Pentland Hills to the city of Edinburgh. I wanted to walk a short way up to look at the “T” woods,where as a Girl Guide, many many moons ago, I would go with my pals to light fires and cook sausages on sticks and bananas with chocolate wrapped in tin foil. The “sausage sizzle” was quite a regular occurrence in the summer and was obviously quite a tradition. It’s a wonder we never set the woods on fire! The woods get their name from the T shape you see from any direction! It’s really a cross shape, but I suppose you never see the 4th arm - unless you look down from the hill. It was apparently planted by a laird of Mortonhall (Mortonhall House is not that far away) in the 18th century to commemorate a member of his family who had died in battle – maybe Culloden?
Well, as I had done on the canal walk, I went up a bit at a time, climbing up past gorse bushes in full bloom with their delightful coconut smell, looking back at the unfolding view of Edinburgh, Fife and East Lothian. I was surprised to see the Bass Rock down off North Berwick, so prominent, though Berwick Law and the Cockenzie power station are generally quite clear.
It looks like someone lit a fire inside it, yet still it grows -
… until I was a good way up the hill.
past a horserider, and eventually by the side of Swanston House, built in 1761, and gradually back to the car park, to look back up at where I had been! I was quite proud of myself getting as far as I did, considering the dodgy hip. Next time I’ll try and go further – maybe even to the top!
Talk again soon.