Friday, 17 August 2018

Edinburgh. The Seven Hills Tour Revisited..... With a Difference. The Long Walk. Part One.

                                               ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
The famous floral clock in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens was our starting point. The city of Edinburgh is built around seven distinctive separate hills, although being a very hilly city in general there's actually a lot more than that. The traditional Seven Hills race however takes around four hours and covers 14 miles but it's usually elite fell runners that take part in that. Not something I've ever been keen on although I was a fairly fast uphill walker in my youth but never felt drawn to multiple hill endurance events like the Skye Ridge in one go, The Three Peaks Race, or similar. I've always preferred taking my time and seeing the different landscapes properly to appreciate them rather than just as a passing exhausted blur.
So it was that Anne and myself left Glasgow, seen here, (Donald Dewar statue above. The very Ist First minister of Scotland.) and jumped on an early morning bus to Edinburgh, ending up an hour and a half later in Princes Street Gardens.
Our first hill was Calton Hill seen here with the Black Watch Memorial monument sticking up on The Mound.
And this is the bottom half of it. I was interested in this memorial because my father was in the Black Watch during the Second World War and got a free extended holiday in Italy during that time, mingling with Italian and German tourists on the beaches for the privilege of placing a towel down on the sand and claiming a spot for the UK. They then marched inland to see the wonderful villages and towns and sample some authentic Italian night life and cuisine. Eggs and chickens mainly but eaten on the move with a distinctly rustic DIY approach to cooking at times. Fresh farm food generally, foraged from field to plate within minutes.Sometimes sausages or steak, if very lucky. Shabby chic you might call it today rather than a fine dining experience. Tables, chairs and cutlery being optional. Bayonets used for stirring tea and catching dinner. Happy times on his first journey outside Scotland with the clan.
Castle Hill came next for us in the present day, another bump on the list. The complete list being Arthur's Seat, Castle Rock, Calton Hill, Blackford Hill, Braid Hills, Craiglockhart Hill and Corstorphine Hill. As Anne and Belinda had travelled through to Edinburgh over a dozen times in the last couple of years the novelty of the shopping streets and tourist haunts had worn off slightly but Anne was still keen to explore other parts of Edinburgh--- Belinda less so as she had her own friends to visit with.
After Castle Hill we ended up in The Meadows, A large expanse of open short grass which hasn't changed much in 100 years. Muriel Spark included it in her novel 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' about an Edinburgh teacher's strong influence over her pupils, well illustrated in this mural. This is one panel in a line of them along a wall.
I was a bit sorry for Anne it wasn't still springtime here as the crocus displays around the meadows are the best I've ever seen. She's seeing them now though... on here :)
Here's some more I made earlier.... in spring.
Another view of the meadows with Arthur's Seat behind. We'd both been up that previously (at night in another post) and that was probably where she'd got the Seven Hills idea from in the first place... as I'd sneakily sowed it there myself by pointing them all out individually as the sun set. Ideas are often like that... a secret grail quest planted in someone's grow...
The gift that keeps on giving.
Period buildings line The Meadows. This is one.
At the far end this spectacular church spire marks the end of green lawn and back to built up city streets.
Still within the Meadows District however was this place that really intrigued me. A curious blend of new and old architecture I'd first spotted a couple of years ago. As I've said before on the blog the only houses they seem to be building these days are always at the luxury end of the market. More profit that way for private companies as anything that could be sold off in the UK has been. Often assets formally owned by the taxpayer. Quartermile is a prime example of that change in building policy.
Modern glass and steel apartments/ penthouse towers, side by side with former period hospital buildings- also converted into luxury flats. The former Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. We had a good wander around here. It's an interesting place. Nice to see old period buildings retained but there definitely seems to be two parallel worlds operating in the UK today. Those unlucky folk ten years into austerity measures- still being told to tighten their belts and that there's never any money available.......for them........ and then there's this lot here. Wish I was in a different camp sometimes just for a change. Poverty is overrated.
I like moaning mind you... it makes me happy... and it's still free and not yet privatized. 'Use it while you can' my old mum used to say.... :o) I must come from bolshy stock, online at least, if not in person. Mild mannered I am in grim reality. I never rock the boat.  Full info and glamorous photo gallery of rooftop apartments here.
It says 'affordable housing' is part of this complex on the info brochure but we struggled to see any. What does that term even mean? A super yacht is 'affordable' if you have the money available to buy it. A bit like the 'green recycling' tag when two thirds of recycled stuff still ends up in landfill apparently for one reason or another. I presume the 'affordable flats' are the ones near the bottom in the previous photo with limited sunshine and no views. Cynical old me.
Anyway, it was an interesting place to wander around with fantastic views across the meadows. Some of the penthouse flats here change hands for one million pounds and upwards I'd imagine as it's a very desirable district to live in.
As you may have guessed by now we were not following the typical Seven Hills circuit- head down, charge on, but a leisurely variation of my own making as we were not intending to do all seven hills anyway.... just a greatest bits tour of the city with several new hills thrown in.
After exploring The Meadows we had a few busy city streets to cross around the Tollcross district before our next scenic highlight. One I had visited before by bike and Anne was keen on seeing for the first time. We both liked this yellow apartment building. A splash of colour really zings anywhere and catches the eye.
The Union Canal basin at Edinburgh Quay where it terminates within the city. Canal barges and a towpath walkway start here but it's not that easy to reach on foot from the city centre so the walk across The Meadows to here is a pleasant green alternative avoiding several km of busy streets and traffic. This area of old warehouses, meat market, factories and old brewery buildings has been extensively redeveloped. So much so that we christened it Round Tower land...
but I'll leave that for part two of our long walk......................... to be continued.

Edinburgh is not the only city/place to be built over seven hills. Here's the full list.


Linda W. said...

Thanks for another great tour of your country!

Carol said...

To me, there's no such thing as a 'luxury apartment' - if it's joined to neighbours, it's gonna be noisy and 'orrid! I'm glad I'm detached now and in a quiet area - I was starting to go mad with stress I think! Mind you, the size of the electric bills here (it being off the gas grid and all electric) are pretty stressful. It's so cold tonight, I've even lit my fire... in August! :-o

Rosemary said...

The term affordable housing really makes no sense at all to me either - it is giving the impression that the houses are cheap and affordable to one and all, which is just not the case at all.
You have to admire the skills that go into producing municipal planting like that clock, but I suspect that with all of the cutbacks in council budgets they could become a thing of the past.
I didn't realise that Edinburgh also has seven hills the same as Rome

blueskyscotland said...

No problem Linda. You will know Edinburgh and Scotland pretty well by now if you ever visit them on holiday.

blueskyscotland said...

Too true Carol. Years ago a friend of mine moved house to a more upmarket area only to fine it was worse than his old place. Loads of students,dinner parties, and crowded streets where he rarely managed to get parked outside his house. Not particularly noisy just busy all the time.
It's been very cold and damp past two weeks, almost down to zero at dawn. Big change from the heatwave.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary,
Too many tourists visit Edinburgh for cutbacks to the floral clock or popular areas I'd imagine. Be the ones they don't visit on the outskirts that take any hits. There's a surprising number of cities and towns around the world that claim to be built over seven hills, like Rome. San Francisco springs to mind as I've seen the hills there- very impressive. Glasgow has dozens(drumlins) within the city but Springburn (a Glasgow district) has seven.
As I was curious myself I've added a list.

Kay G. said...

Fantastic post with lovely photos as always, I loved the tour!
I clicked on the link to the luxury apartments. I don't usually care for modern but I think I could quite happy in those! Gorgeous!
That floral garden like a clock? I love that.
Also, I love the list of the 7 hills cities that you gave us a link to...the only one in Georgia is in Rome, Georgia. There is a college there, Berry College, and it has a very large campus, 27,000 acres, much of it forest. They have filmed quite a few movies there, I think.
Richard says that he remembers a place in Germany with 7 hills, Konigswinter, but I just looked it up on Wikipedia and they don't have it on the list! Looks like we need to tell them to add it! LOL!

Anabel Marsh said...

Hmm, don’t like those boxy looking glass apartments - totally out of character.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Kay,
Rome, Georgia looks a lovely city with its three rivers and plentiful woods. I always like towns and cities built over hills, no matter how many as its just a pleasing aspect to view the urban areas from the surrounding hills. Flat cities may have loads of interesting features but unless you can get high, via hill or skyscraper, they do miss out. Oban in Scotland may have a seven hills claim too as Coatbridge is not a city last time I looked. I remember hills in Oban- never seen any in Coatbridge ???? :o)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
Yes, they do stand out compared to their surroundings. Round Tower land photos next time.

Mark said...

I've been to Edinburgh a few times - to visit my brother-in-law who studied there or an old friend who lived there for several years, for the Festival and for New Year, but I don't know it half as well as I'd like to. One day I'll have all the time I need to visit all these places I want to get to know. Or maybe not!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Mark,
It's funny the elastic nature of time and memory- if you have to reach a certain point ahead... say four years... it seems an impossibly long way off in the future yet certain events, 30 years in the past, are remembered so clearly it seems like yesterday they occurred while many other equally important events in-between get dimmed or forgotten completely.