Time for the third of the seven hills. Blackford sits to the South of Edinburgh and though the hill is not at all steep, the terrain is rough in places. On Calton or Castle Hill, one is definitely walking in the city – not so here. I thought I’d try using two walking poles today: this would support me on the descent, and also give my left arm something to do. I’ve noticed that when my legs are having to make more of an effort – such as when walking up a hill – that the left arm tends to forget its duties and droops limply at my side. But with two poles, the arm must be fully involved in the walking at all times! Involve the arm!

I am really not the most co-ordinated of creatures with two poles, but once I’d got going it was fine.

Blackford Hill is most notable for being home to the Royal Observatory, which you would be able to see if it wasn’t having a face-lift . . .

But for me the summit of the hill has another signficance. . .

I could see the top of Blackford Hill from the Astley Ainsley Hospital. Many’s the time during my interment that I’d gaze out and wish to be up there rather than down here. Tom works nearby, and at lunchtimes he would go for a run and phone me at the hospital when he got to the top. If I stood at a particular place by a particular window on the ward, I could see his small figure gaily waving to me from the summit. How I wished that I could join him!

. . . and now I can. It felt damn good to be up here rather than down there.

There are excellent views to the North and East. From this angle, Mead Mountain assumes an interesting aspect, like a beast at rest. Some say that it resembles a sleeping lion.

The poles were very welcome on the descent. I will have to work at building up my strength at going down . . .

. . . my legs had turned to jelly by this point.

After our walk, we popped into Morningside to buy supplies: ingredients for a special fruit cake; tea from Falko (I am addicted); and a muthaload of cheese from Mellis‘s. Tom set to work on the cake when we returned. . .

This is what Pru Leith recommends to prevent uneven cooking. A couple of old issues of Private Eye seem to work just fine.

The tea and cheese and cake are rations for my trip – I am going away for a few days to a nice-looking pad that Mel found for us all to stay in near Stirling. I shall be attending a class on Tuesday, and will probably be knocking around the, um, ‘marketplace’ at the weekend, but mostly I am just going to spend some quality time with my favourite knitting comrades. Stop me and say hello if you see me!

52 thoughts on “Blackford Hill

  1. The hills are coming thick and fast!

    ‘ But what we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.’ (only?!)

    (thankfully, little danger of undernourishment in the conventional sense when there’s fine cakes, tea and cheese about!)


  2. Read this, and tears came to my eyes as I saw you gazing down on your “interment” place. “Radiant” is absolutely the word!
    Oh, Kate. I’m so happy for you! Have a wonderful trip!


  3. So pleased to see that Blackford Hill has been crossed off the list – onwards and upwards – so to speak!

    Have a great time at Stirling and (in mum voice) please don’t overdo it. If I see you on Saturday I will say hello.


  4. I remember being told as a child never to open an umbrella inside because it would be bad luck—who would have thought having an open umbrella inside your body would be such good luck. thrilled to see you hiking up hills again and getting stronger.


  5. More smiles now than I have seen yet ! You look no different than ‘before’, and I can tell by the expressions on your face that you are thrilled with your progress, that your life is back in your own hands. Whew !

    The tea and cheese and cake idea is brilliant and my mouth is watering right now… not kidding ! You and Tom, what a wonderful couple, two mega-talents under the same roof. Hard to grasp. (oh, and now there’s young Bruce to strut his tricks). These last few posts are making my day ! Hugs galore to all of you (Bruce too).


  6. Oh, the Astley Ainsley moment almost had me tearing up. So pleased you’ve conquered another hill! Have fun in my home town!(although due to a welter of disorganisation, I find I can’t actually make it to the knit camp, and I wouldn’t even have had to sort out accomodation).


  7. It’s so wonderful to hear that you’re reaching your goals, though I haven’t commented before I’ve been following your blog since before your stroke and it has been eye opening experience to be able to follow your recovery through your words. Good luck on your next hill.


  8. It’s always wonderful to see you out conquering another hill! Since your stroke, your blog, which is always fascinating, has been a particularly welcome read for me. Shortly after your stroke, my aunt was diagonised with an inoperable, untreatable, and very aggressive brain tumor. Her tumor has caused side effects very similar to those of a stroke. Your blog, and your willingness to share the often times painful details of your recovery, has helped me to get some sort of grip on my aunt’s rapidly changing reality. I just wanted to thank you for being so honest and open, and to let you know how much reading your blog has meant to me. Here’s to four more hills, and more to come!


  9. I just had to leave another comment, I took a little time to go through some of your previous post and your journey to recovery is quite encouraging, I love the positive spirit and how you are using your walking to recover. The beautiful landscape is so different from my environment (Southern California) and it feels like I’ve gone on a vacation to a foreign land that I would love to visit someday. I shall enjoy reading your other posts, your sweater patterns are so appealing that I made a promise to myself to knit one.


  10. look at your calf muscles-from the photos you can’t notice a difference in leg strength!!

    hope you have a lovely time catching up with friends and knitterly things.



  11. A lovely happy post. Good on you. My husband always insists that that hill (‘Mead’ hill) looks like a sleeping elephant, as first suggested in the book ‘The Silent Traveller in Edinburgh’ by Chiang Yee (first published 1948 and worth looking out for). When I was expecting my first child and living in Edinburgh, it was perfectly obvious to me that the hill is, in fact, a pregnant woman lying on her back. Although the boobs look a bit lumpy from the perspective of Blackford Hill!


  12. You do look fantastically happy at the top! Must have been a great feeling.

    I live in Morningside Road, and am also a fan of Falko. I am slightly concerned that I do see you someday and speak to you as if I know you! Either that or I will puzzle for hours who that familiar face was and exactly where I know you from……


  13. I teared up with joy at this post, Kate! You look fantastic up there at the summit, and such a meaningful spot, too.

    Going *down* is always so much harder for me than going *up*…I always blame it on the fact that gravity is trying to send me tumbling down and I have to fight to stay upright.

    Have a great time in Stirling!


  14. Dear Kate,
    I just found your blog a short while ago. I found this post so moving. What I want to say is that the beauty of your being and courage astound me. I am an American..so far away, but I want you to know how much your journey has touched me in ways that are so hard to articulate. I may be old enough to be your Granny, but you are an inspiration to me. Is it not a gift for me to find a young woman who has been through so much, but who inspires and shows me such strength and hope when life just slams us against a solid, unmovable wall.
    May I just offer up a huge thank you and send warm thoughts and prayers your way?
    Best to you, Ellen K.


  15. Great to see you on top of another hill! It’s lovely to see you smiling. If you have time while at Stirling, I think you might enjoy meeting Mary Jane Mucklestone. She lives in Maine and is teaching a few classes there this weekend. She is a very talented Fair Isle knitter and teacher.


  16. Enjoy your class, the company – and the cake too!

    (And it’s great to see you at the top of another hill. I wish I could find something more articulate to say than you’re inspiring, but it’s true!)


  17. Your smile at the summit says it all!! I wrap brown paper round cake tins – I learned that from my Mum …. she would probably have worried about what the neighbours would think if she used newspaper! (her cakes still sank [or is it sunk] in the middle!! ) Enjoy your stay in Stirling …. it’s just a pity I won’t be visiting my son in Falkirk or I could have popped over to Stirling to say hi!


  18. When I got to the part about how now you can join Tom, I started to cry. Holy moo – look at how far you’ve come and how fast! I know it feels interminable and I know it’s hard not to compare now to before, but you are flipping amazing. That is a beautiful location.


  19. How lovely to see your joy in the walk and making that summit. Well done Kate, lovely photos Tom and delicious cake! Thanks for sharing .


  20. How cool. Fab walk and photos. I didn’t know Private Eye was still being published.

    I did my junior year in London in a journalism program, and got to interview the then editor, Richard Ingram(?). While I was there, he answered his phone with “I can’t talk now, I’m being interviewed by a famous Amercan journalist.” Yuck, yuck!


  21. You look so great! I bet the strength that you’ve worked so hard to regain has been therapeutic on so many levels. Congrats!!


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