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 out of town readers, Edinburgh and most of Scotland is in full lockdown again. All residents must stay at home and only go out for essential journeys and local exercise. I would like to assure readers that ALL photos posted since the first lockdown, and any posted in the coming weeks, are taken during permitted exercise in my local area, as I don’t have a car, and haven’t used buses for quite a while.
As a distraction, these are some pics of the city gradually being reclaimed or re-wilded by nature, as ground maintenance contracts ground to a halt last Spring. I have found something uplifting about watching this process and seeing the distinction between town and country blurring just a little.
Please stay as safe as you can and follow the guidelines. 🌹
I have added a new section to my Edinburgh walks called City Strolls which began with some of my much needed lockdown walks around the city. They are all under 5 miles and would suit anyone who just wants to get out of the house for exercise and a bit of vitamin D. These short routes avoid busy roads as much as possible, and are all accessible by public transport or on foot. Although I have suspended video making during the last year, GPX routes are available from my Outdooractive or Viewranger sites.
Hopefully following the rules until we get the vaccine will mean that walkers and outdoor users can expect a return to some kind of normality soon.
Don’t forget to refresh your website links with my new domain rucksackrosie.com with an i.
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.
Most outdoor people and bloggers want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, but please respect the places that you go walking, whether it is the local park or the countryside.
Check the Scottish Outdoor Access Code for Scotland or the Countryside Code for England. Leave no trace of your visit so that you don’t spoil a day out for the next visitors. If you take a carrier bag out with you, it is easy to take your rubbish home with you after your walk. Simples.
As walkers and outdoor people, many of us moan about litter, but the truth is that we are usually preaching to the converted. I chose to support this grass roots action to highlight how bad the problem is becoming and how we can help.
Many small individual actions can make a big impact, so hopefully you will feel inspired to take a walk on your local patch. The action is to complete a one hour walk, collecting plastic litter as you walk and tag KidsVPlastic or KidsAgainstPlastic with a note of how many pieces you collected at the end.
The problem in the Tyneside country park which I chose for my walk has become really dire, so hopefully these pictures will say more than words can. I didn’t see any bins on the route which was thronging with people on this busy Sunday.
Thanks to Outdoor Bloggers UK and Kids V Plastics for suggesting this initiative which is aimed at raising awareness.
In 2015 I had to compromise all my adventure plans and explore what was on my doorstep due to family responsibilities, dreadful public transport and lack of resources. As a lover of wild places it was hard not to view this as a demotion. Following 5 long distance trails and 15 years of walking in some of Britain’s least populated hills in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders, it is easy to become a bit of a purist.
I was trying to expunge my urban roots after a long spell living in London, but some people have reminded me that there are things see and some valuable wild space in large cities if you know where to look.
Inspired by some groups trying to create National City Parks in London and Glasgow, and by Alastair Humphreys promoting the idea of finding do-able adventures on your doorstep, I have been exploring my local area a bit.
I thought I knew this area so well that it had nothing to teach me.
For those of us who live in cities, we either discount this kind of walking and sit at home reading other people’s wild adventures, or we get out and explore wherever we find ourselves.
This microadventure could more aptly be described as a nanoadventure really. It involved a modest attempt at creating a short route, rather than following somebody else’s route from a book or website. My short tick-list stipulated that it must be local, accessible by public transport and interesting, preferably involving some places I hadn’t been before. The final result is also on YouTube and ViewRanger / Outdooractive now if you would like to give it a go.
For me a great walk should always involve a good beginning and a good finish, rather than just going from Place A to Place B. I opted for going from St Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitley Bay to North Shields Fish Quay, both notable landmarks on the north east coast which I hadn’t been to before. The distance of my short but varied walk was roughly 5 miles, with plenty to see and do plus some decent cafes and bars – both worthwhile features to incorporate into a walk.
Traces of history and heritage are everywhere along this stretch of the coast. Tynemouth Castle is located on a rocky promontory overlooking Tynemouth Pier. Apparently the moated towers, gatehouse and keep are combined with the ruins of the Benedictine priory where early kings of Northumbria were buried.
Whitley Bay and Tynemouth were popular resorts in the age before international travel became available to ordinary people. Now the fascinating relics of that time have been left to dissolve slowly back into the landscape. There are old paddling pools and swimming pools gradually filling with sand, rotting beach huts and corroded iron railing lining the empty esplanades. At the time of writing, Whitley Bay would almost qualify as an English ghost town.
I tried to keep away from the roadside development and to stay on the beach and the esplanades, which give a much greater insight into the history of the area. Although they have faded, I noticed that rock pooling has replaced the rides and candy floss sellers along the coast when I was young.
I carried on past Tynemouth Castle and around the corner into the River Tyne. This is the main artery of the city, but I had actually never visited the mouth of the river.
Here the atmosphere imperceptibly changes from faded seaside resort to the modern day hustle and bustle of a busy river, with ferries plying to and fro, a lifeboat station poised for action, fish processing plants, smokehouses and dock buildings gradually increasing in density towards North Shields Fish Quay a mile or so inland.
On this short walk, I learned a lot about the economic and social past of this area. I also mixed with the ghosts of childhood trips to the seaside which littered parts of this route for me.