Hill number 6 is Craiglockhart, which lies in the South of Edinburgh, behind Morningside. More of a rolling, rising piece of land than a hill proper, much of the walking to be had around Craiglockart is in the grounds of a “giant Italian villa” – which began life in 1880 as a hydropathic institute, capitalising on the late-Victorian fashion for health cures. According to a brochure advertising the institution:
“The establishment affords to its residents all the amenities and retirement of quiet country life. . . and the further privilege of wandering over the picturesquely wooded hill adjoining which was laid out some years ago at considerable expense with winding paths and pleasant resting spots.”
You can still wander around said “picturesquely wooded hill”, as long, of course, if you avoid the fenced-off, carefully manicured areas which have been set aside for yet another golf course.
From the portions of Craiglockhart upon which one is allowed to ramble freely, there are fine views of many of Edinburgh’s other hills, including Corstorphine:
(note the Forth Bridges to the left on the horizon)
And Arthur’s Seat, (assuming, from this angle, a most elephantine aspect):
The “giant Italian villa” is now part of Napier University, but it is perhaps best known for being the place where poets Wilfrid Owen and Siegfried Sassoon met. During the First World War, Craiglockhart was used as a place of respite for the many hundreds of seriously traumatised soldiers who had survived the Somme. Records show that the hospital administrators were unwilling to recognise shell-shock as a legitimate and prevalent disorder, and instead classified their patients with trivial diagnoses which ranged from piles to a broken toe. At Craiglockhart, Wilfrid Owen edited the hospital’s magazine, The Hydra, to which Sassoon contributed this famous poem. Napier’s library (housed in the former hospital) includes a special collection of war poetry, and an accompanying exhibition.
Rather than the prospect view, on Craiglockhart, I found my camera most attracted by the undergrowth: by dried-out husks of willowherb, and black, blasted gorse
Bruce also enjoyed the undergrowth . . .
. . . and did his best to steal the show
. . . but this is my favourite of the photographs I took on Craiglockhart.
There’s something about the light today that I find very particular to this time of year: a season I generally associate with introducing nineteen year-olds to Addison and Steele, to Pope and Thomson. Indeed, this is the first time in 34 years that Autumn has not signalled, in one way or another, the moment to go back to school. I still find it surprising and curious that at the moment my main business is my recovery, accompanied by a bit of knitting. . . but there we go. I have been working on the Tortoise and the Hare, and should have a new cardigan to show you next week – I was hoping to finish it sooner, but rather underestimated how long it would take the new, slow me to produce sleeves on 3mm needles. . . and as well as completing a garment, next weekend I also hope to haul my wonky ass up hill number 7 – celebrations all round, I reckon.
ETA: I mustn’t forget to mention that I’ve been updating the correspondence archive – I’ve not quite finished, and there are still quite a few cards, letters and objects to add and catalogue, but I’m getting there. Also, I still intend to write with thanks to all of those who sent me an address – this may take some time, but I shall get round to it. Thankyou again, everyone.