Hill four of the seven is Braid Hill, or in local parlance, The Braids. Rising from a wooded valley floor to an undulating hillside a couple of miles south of Edinburgh, The Braids are part managed parkland, part urban corridor. By day, a place for golf buddies and walkers; by night, the hideout of youths and foxes. With its rosebay willowherb and corners of abandoned furniture, the landscape reminds me of the canal-side walks of my childhood, but it can feel quite remote at times at well. Tom often runs here, and occasionally crosses paths with a startled deer — it is a marginal sort of place where you feel that you are just about to leave the city. Edinburgh’s eighteenth-century poets regarded The Braids as a rural retreat: it was one of Burns’ favourite walking spots, and Robert Fergusson wrote a rather conventional pastoral in which he counseled his readers to forget “the city’s allurements” and “to this spot of enchantment retire.” But my favourite Braids-inspired poem is from the hand of a far less-well-known local writer, Rebekkah Carmichael, who in 1790 chose The Braids as the setting for a curious poetic re-enactment of the Choice of Hercules.
Thankfully I did not have to make a choice between Pleasure and Virtue today – in fact, my walk seemed to involve both. The Hedgerows were glorious. I enjoyed having my macro lens to photograph late blooms . . .
. . . and new fruits
Bruce came too.
The walk was certainly a challenge — the ground was thankfully even underfoot, but with over a mile of steady ascent, things were a bit more tricky than Blackford . . .
We had a wee rest at the top. There’s Castle Hill, in the patch of sunlight behind me.
This was quite a tough walk for me, and I will probably now be bushed for the next couple of days, but I have to say I much prefer a bit of exertion followed by rest, to the interminable purgatory that is pacing oneself. That’s just me, though – and it is so nice to ramble about the landscape again on a lovely late-summer’s day, beneath Edinburgh’s shifting skies, with my man and my dog.
Look! The Pentlands! One day not too far away, perhaps . . .