Tuesday, 9 October 2007

The Leith police dismisseth us

With a morning to kill in Edinburgh, and a clear sky, I decided to do something a bit different and take the Water of Leith walkway from the heart of the New Town towards the old port.

It's a lovely hike - about two miles there and two miles back. The path runs beside the Water of Leith,  at first a rushing stream, later a much broader river; sometimes beside you, sometimes far below. There are parks, woods, cuttings dug into the rich moist earth, and there's one little wiggle through an industrial estate. You're never far from industry, yet the natural attractions of the path allow you to forget it for most of the route.

As I walked beside a brick warehouse, a heron regarded me seriously from a rock in the middle of the river, then took off and flapped heavily towards the trees on the other bank. A squirrel spiralled a tree, each revolution stopping to poke his head round and see if I'd moved. As I grew closer to Leith I began to hear seagulls.

Leith itself is intriguing with a mix of seventeenth century houses (and the tower of a windmill), Victorian and modern docks, and twenty-first century  regeneration.  A fine swing bridge offers interesting photographic opportunities; and at the end of the road, you'll see a wall of containers as a ship comes in. No way to the edge of the Firth of Forth, though, which disappointed me.

Edinburgh's other longer walk is a completely different experience - through Holyrood Part and up Salisbury Crags ('Arthur's Seat').  No doubt it's grander - but I enjoyed the intimacy of the Water of Leith walkway, and the homely welcome from people exercising their dogs, watching the squirrels, and jogging.

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