Tuesday, 16 October 2018
This is the last section of my day walk from Seton Sands to Musselburgh. It was action packed with many points of interest, hence splitting it into three different parts. This is the sea wall at Prestonpans, guarding the town from the winter storms that batter this coastline on occasions. At low tide you can walk under it easily enough but the tide was still coming in when I arrived here so I was in two minds whether to go for it or not. Be very embarrassing if I got stranded halfway around, cut off by the waves. As I still had my boots on and dry socks in my rucksack I decided to attempt it quickly before it got any higher. This section, facing the sea, used to have good murals along it but they have been washed off. It's over ten years since I last visited this area, by bike.
Sunday, 7 October 2018
Prestonpans has more going for it than just a seafront boardwalk so I thought it deserved a second post in its own right. Originally founded on fishing, coal, sea salt, soap and other industries... in the modern era it had to find a way to reinvent itself. Like many post industrial towns and villages it went into a decades long decline since the 1960s-1980s and those traditional industries, mines and jobs dried up. Compared to some of the more upmarket neighbouring towns and villages it still retains something of a hard edge to it but that's never bothered me as I like character in a place and Prestonpans has plenty of that as well as many fine historic buildings.
I didn't realise quite how unique this pub chain was until, in the comments section, Russell pointed me in the direction of this link. Thanks R.C.
They also made bricks and earthenware pottery going by the examples on the totem pole. Totem Poles are all around us in modern day Britain. They advertise all the shops at the entrance to most retail parks.
A link to why its twinned with Barga here, The Vancouver island connection and other interesting local info.
According to the local info Prestonpans had its own trial of 81 witches who joined the long procession of others who were tortured, strangled and burned to death along with their cats and sometimes their children on this surprisingly savage coastline. Mostly women. Prestonpans apparently, for its modest size, was particularly good at finding witches and Satan in its midst- better than towns many times larger. Most of these unlucky souls were dragged off to Edinburgh to die within sight of the famous castle with crowds of spectators applauding A bit like X Factor or various Celebrity Punishment type programmes today. Popular entertainment for the time. All sanctioned by Mary Queen of Scots who apparently signed the Scottish Witchcraft Act in the mid 1500s so no tears should be sniffed over her fate. No wonder it was called the forgotten holocaust. The Forgotten War. And a purge against women in the main. Makes you wonder why? Are they so evil, these creatures of the night? Remember the lesson of the apple after all... Since Lilith first walked the earth no war has lasted longer than the Battle of the Sexes.
If I put a video on here I usually try and match it with the subject of the post. This is a perfect fit. I first heard this ahead of its time song many years ago and thought of it now as the words are so remarkable and well chosen. This popular Irish folk singer is still on the go, appearing in Glasgow and Edinburgh this winter and he should know the truth of the matter far better than me with his background and worldwide contacts. Picked this particular version as the lyrics are on it written down in full and well worth a look. An important song about a period that's been too long glossed over as its only very recently several memorials and pardons have been issued. Better late than never I suppose.
PS.... Enjoyed the recent series just ended called Back in Time for the Factory- about a group of South Wales workers in a recreated garment factory during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. All the Back In Time series like Back in Time for Dinner and Back in Time for the Weekend have been fascinating slices of recent social history, revealing many of the things folk of my age lived through but didn't necessarily connect- like the invention of fridge freezers and supermarkets allowing ordinary housewives the freedom to go out to work for the first time. Doh! I always wondered why I suddenly became a latchkey kid at 14 and came home every night to an empty house and a hungry dog.
Monday, 1 October 2018
Seton Sands is a destination I've never arrived at so when I noticed the number 26 bus from Edinburgh city centre went to there as it's final stop from Clermiston on the Seven Hills trip with Anne I decided there and then it was a bus worth taking. This is Seton Sands beach here, popular with holiday makers....a large caravan site and a sandy beach are the main, if not the only attractions available to arrivals. The caravan park was doing reasonable business when I got off the bus as the terminus is right beside the front reception to this site. It's around 18km or ten miles from the centre of Edinburgh to Seton Sands and it takes around an hour to get there as it goes via Portobello and through several other coastal towns with dozens of stops on the way. Add another two buses and just over two hours to reach Edinburgh from Glasgow's western outskirts and you have a 5 to 6 hour round trip depending on traffic and the inevitable roadworks. I didn't fancy doing it after the clocks changed as it was a fair distance away- a full 12 hour day- and the Perth trip at Christmas proved to me that it was very easy to miss the last bus and be stuck in the dark in sub zero temperatures in an unfamiliar location. Staying in hotels or pubs are very definitely a last resort for me and an option to be avoided if at all possible. Half the Perth trip had been in the dark, and even wrapped up it was pretty cold as soon as the sun departed and the wind increased.
I've met many people like this over the decades, usually males (strictly platonic relationships I have to add :o) but it did give solo folk like me an opportunity to meet new people you may get along with and discover a shared interest. That appears to be increasingly a thing of the past, sadly. Not even a 'Brief Encounter'....it's something of a tragedy for the human race I believe... and my personal bug bear- i.e. smart phones...albeit for purely selfish reasons in my case which increasingly keep us locked within mental cages.... as in think of all the films of chance encounters on public transport or in the street, good and bad, that might never happen now in today's society including the one I've picked for this post set in 1980s Dublin. I suppose there's always Tinder or silicone based attractions now for young people. Annoyingly, I've always relied on face to face encounters with my unsuspecting victims ...er potential weekend walking companions, to home in like a guided missile and get acquainted so I'm out of step with modern society. A relic of the past that actually prefers to talk to people without gadgets as a facilitator.
In the above photo you can just see the white tower blocks of Leith and Edinburgh in the distance from Seton Sands.
My walk for today was along the coast from Seton Sands, then Cockenzie and Port Seton, then Prestonpans, then Musselburgh- all coastal towns on the John Muir Trail. Around 14km of coastline walking with inland sections added. The father of American conservation was born in nearby Dunbar and spent his childhood in this district.
I've done most of the JMW in day sections before it had a grand title and this stretch is a real highlight. It's now a multi day 134 mile, 215km route taking around 10 days from Dunbar to Helensburgh. So basically up the east coast to Edinburgh then across central Scotland towards Glasgow then ending at the western seaboard.
One of the best things about a walk like this is that you never know what you might see on it. Great variety of subjects.
There's been some very good films on TV recently and some of the best have had little hype or fanfare so it's even more enjoyable when they turn out to be real gems.
This is one.
Sing Street. An Irish musical. Funny- great songs- good story and acting throughout. If it's on again its worth seeing. Oh, and good coastal scenery in this as well which is another reason why I picked it.
Another great TV series Ireland has produced is Red Rock. Onto its third season now and the standard is still very high. Well worth catching from the start about two feuding families in a seaside town near Dublin. Great acting, great cast- fantastic believable storylines- easily as good as The Bodyguard and Killing Eve but less well known.