Although this continues to be a terrible period for many people around the world, the vaccines and the lockdowns have so far given the people here in Edinburgh an opportunity to cautiously reclaim their city.
Newcastle, where my parents lived, is not so far away from here, so I have had frequent visits to this city since I was a child, including many visits to the Edinburgh Festival, various concerts and exhibitions.
Berwick upon Tweed, where I lived and grew organic fruit, vegetables and herbs for almost 10 years, always felt more Scottish than English to me. Indeed the best thing about living in Berwick is Scotland.
I traveled regularly from Berwick to Edinburgh for shopping, work, study, culture, leisure, and for holidays throughout Scotland during those 10 years, but living here has hopefully given me greater insight into the city, the country and the people.
Because the city is normally thronging with visitors from around the world, residents have enjoyed this opportunity to re-inhabit the city centre without the crowds. Last week I suddenly realised that I may never see places like the Royal Mile without crowds again, so I have been exploring the old town and added some short central walks to my City Strolls on Viewranger / Outdooractive.
I hope you will enjoy these short walks as the restrictions are lifted from tomorrow. Remember to follow the guidelines and leave no trace.
For information, I have divided up my Scottish day walks into geographical walks and themed walks.
Under geographical walks so far there are two new sections entitled Border Beats and Edinburgh Exploits (including City Strolls). Under themed walks there is a section called Perthshire Protection about outdoor conservation work. I look forward to expanding all these in the fullness of time. Although I have suspended the video making during the pandemic, you can check out my Outdooractive / Viewranger route collection.
Obviously the walks I can do at the moment are limited by the present restrictions, but they may appeal to other people in the same situation.
Although these are strange and difficult times, there is some consolation in having the time to explore Edinburgh more – away from the main thoroughfares. It is a such a good way of getting to know and love my new home, as well as keeping things in perspective.
I feel quite bonded to my local community and environment in Edinburgh after over a year and a half of living here, and 10 weeks of lockdown. Although there are many people and things I have missed during this time, three things I don’t miss are cars, motorbikes and planes. I have not experienced air quality like this since I was a child, and I will be very sad when all the motor vehicles return to the roads and the planes to the air. If only this could be a catalyst for real change instead of just a temporary suspension, our quality of life would be so much better.
Anyway, I kept a photo diary as a way to remember my lockdown in years to come. These are a few images from my one hour walks, which are to be increased from tomorrow in Scotland. I found a surprising amount of variety in my small patch of land.
Although I have been lucky enough not to need the services of the NHS so far, I would like to thank the shop workers at my local shops, my postal workers, delivery people and refuse collectors, who have kept my world turning in such important ways. My sincere condolences to anyone who has lost loved ones.
The Pentland Hills lay just beyond my radius when I was living on the border, so I was glad when a walking friend offered to introduce me to this lovely area in January of this year. The area is a straightforward bus journey from Edinburgh. I was just on the verge of venturing out to feature the area on this blog when the restrictions were introduced, so this is just a taster of an area I hope to focus on in future posts. I hope you are safe and well.
This post was created from my phone so I hope the layout is without issues.
Although my first complete year in Scotland has been a relatively quiet year since losing my father in July, I think I have made the right decision to move here after living on the border for 10 years. I have had some great day walks, trips and life experiences, which only living in Scotland could have afforded me. I wish you all a very happy and successful year for 2020 and hope you will return to my sites in the New Year.
I have just completed my first working holiday as an outdoor conservation volunteer for the National Trust for Scotland’s Thistle Camps in North Perthshire. If you’re interested in conservation and the outdoors, this is a great opportunity to give something back, and make a difference to Scotland’s unique natural heritage. To read and see more about this trip, take a look at my Perthshire Protection page.
The working holidays are residential projects, based at National Trust for Scotland properties, which help the NTS to conserve and manage the historic locations under its care.
These are some pictures of the historic and beautiful locations in which I worked, in one of my favourite parts of mainland Scotland.
Killiecrankie – (Site of the Battle of Killiecrankie on 27th July 1689).
Linn of Tummel
The Hermitage, Dunkeld.
I hope that these pictures show what a beautiful and unique area this is, and give some indication of how much there is to see at these three National Trust for Scotland sites.
Many thanks to the NTS Rangers, the Camp leader and co-leaders, and my fellow volunteers for a fun, fascinating and informative week. I paid the listed price towards my upkeep on this camp.
I have been gradually adding day routes onto Outdooractive 👣 for some time. As long as the routes don’t seem to involve any hazards, I have made them public and free for people to download on an ad hoc basis. As I have realised how helpful good quality downloads can be, I decided to start adding GPX files for all my day routes and publishing some routes retrospectively to replace the slightly vague descriptions I had been giving on early YouTube and blog descriptions. I have also been improving and standardising the route information provided with the downloads.
There are now over 50 free, downloadable routes on Outdooractive. I am pleased to see that there has been a steady interest in downloading these routes, so I have added links to my blog posts and YouTube. I hope you will find them helpful if you are considering walks in this part of the world, and that they will work well in conjunction with the blog posts and videos.
I chose the Cateran Trail, which is divided between Perthshire & Angus, for my next backpacking trip, partly because it looks to be a fine route, but also because this area was my introduction to central Scotland some years ago.
The Cateran Trail is a 65 mile / 104km circular route which includes Strathardle as well as parts of Glen Shee and Glen Isla. The route is named after the bands of cattle thieves known as Caterans who previously brought terror to these glens.
The Strathardle section I backpacked between Blairgowrie and Kirkmichael contains all the different types of terrain which this area is known for; various types of woodland, untamed heather moorland, rolling farmland pastures, and many burns feeding into the Ericht and Ardle rivers. You can read the trip report at Pitcarmick under the camping section.
Unfortunately for me, a recent event on the trail had left it a bit muddy. If I had worn my boots and taken my gaiters, it would have improved things, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Anyway here are a few photos of the varied section between Blairgowrie and Kirkmichael, which included a camp at Pitcarmick, to give you an idea of the route.
These pictures give some indication of how lovely the trail is, but avoid the mud underfoot. At this point it began to rain heavily, so I pitched the tent quite early to dry out. Apologies if I should not have camped in this site but it was an unplanned decision brought about by the weather.
I continued my hike the following morning down the lovely, verdant country lanes into Kirkmichael for a much needed hot breakfast. There I decided to return to this trail when it has had the chance to recover, and I can focus more on the lovely countryside and less on where I am putting my feet.