Outdoor Excursions

It's amazing how things develop. After all, this blog started out as a news section for the rest of the website. With encouragement from readers, it has become a place for relating my countryside wanderings and musings about the world of outdoor activity. Walking, cycling and photography all are part of what I do out-of-doors and, hopefully, they will continue to inspire me to keep adding entries on here. Of course, there needs to be something of interest to you, dear reader, too and I hope that's the case. Thanks for coming.

A weekend around Edinburgh

January 14th, 2014

 Duddingston Loch, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, Scotland

Craigmillar Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

The past weekend got spent around Edinburgh and spots from my time at university there got frequented. On Saturday, my perambulations were blessed by blue skies and sunshine as I strolled around the city’s Old Town and New Town areas when on my way to Holyrood Park. There might have been cross-country running going on there but it was easy to leave that after me to spontaneously head south to Duddingston and Craigmillar Castle. For all the lack of planning, neither of these disappointed me though it was late in the day when I made a photo of the classic western profile of Craigmillar Castle.

That there remain so many sights around Edinburgh that I left unexplored while I lived there sometimes makes me wonder what I was doing while I lived there. There was more than four years so that should have meant that not very much was left unencountered. However, it only was after I moved to England to start a career that I got savour the likes of the Pentland Hills, the Water of Leith, Dean Village, Leith’s Waterfront and Cramond. Was it a certain lack of curiosity that limited my horizons back then?

A developing interest in computers and the time that took certainly has been one thing that I blame as well as the need to find my own way through life. On Sunday, I found another culprit under skies that remained largely cloudy: Edinburgh’s world famous city centre. Even in Princes Street Gardens, it was possible to allow a slip into reverie and recollection without very much in the way of disturbance. The same could be said of a stroll around Grassmarket and Dean Village as it could for dawdling in the West End branch of Waterstones surveying books in the Scottish Interest section of sampling a coffee and a croissant with copies of few books with me.

Another suspect might have been my travelling around by bicycle. Just walking means that there is no need to finding a parking place for one or get stopped from leaving it in a location such as the front of the Balmoral Hotel as happened one time. It was the lessened practicality of a bike for exploring hill country that caused me to turn to walking in the first place. When I went further afield to see other parts of Scotland, the bike had to stay at home so walking more than did and there was a certain lack of planning to these ventures. It was as if they were learning ventures and that I need a few visits before I get to make the most of anywhere.

Now that walking retains its appeal for me, books like Kellan MacInnes’ Caleb’s List and Rab Anderson’s guide to the Pentland Hills published by Mica now hopefully will see some use in the future. Not only do I hope that they will bring back to Scotland again but I am left thinking about returning to Edinburgh more often too. Even in January, it retains its allure and is without the crowds that frequent it during the summer too. Sunday stayed bright and offered more than could be expected from the forecast. If cloud had broken in the right part of the sky for long enough, it would have felt even more special: a day of superb weather when the forecast didn’t predict one.

Returning to Kellan MacInnes’ Caleb’s List, there was but one occasion when Scottish hill country got visited during 2013. With all else that happened, it was more than could be expected and allowed a period of calm in a period of ferment. That was a visit to Glen Coe and Loch Shiel but there are opportunities around Stirling and Peebles too. As odd as it may sound, a sort of hill wandering trip could feature Edinburgh too. Between the Southern Highlands, the Ochill Hills and the Pentland Hills, there should be enough excuses for short getaways.

Before I leave this piece, there are more reasons why some parts of Edinburgh needed me to leave in order to see them. On initial appearances, it is tempting to blame getting too comfortable in one’s neighbourhood and home. Having open spaces such as Bruntsfield Links and the Meadows nearby, it can feel that there is no need to go further afield whenever the sun appears. Then, there are films and shows to be seen along with museums and other attractions to visit. Edinburgh’s festivals have been the cause of my seeing the Tattoo of a weekday night and a Bertoldt Brecht satire (Mr. Puntilla and his Man Matti) in the Traverse Theatre so it is easy to see how a city can distract anyone. It can be said that there is much to see and much for which to return. Maybe that can keep me coming back again and again.

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