Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Strollers Walk No. 193 - Monday 18th May 2014, Penicuik Estate

Date:                Monday 18th May 2014
Start Time:        11:00
Distance:          6km 
Duration:           3.5 hours (including a break for lunch, if weather permits)
Start / Finish:    At Penicuik Town Centre (pedestrianised area)
Details of this walk have been circulated to members on the strollers Distribution list. Please contact our mailbox at sl.pensioners.association@gmail.com if you have not received these details and wish to be added to our distribution list.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Outing to Alnwick Gardens - Thursday 14th May 2015

Our first outing of 2015 took place on Thursday 14th May with 83 people in two coaches. The coffee stop was at Ord Garden Centre in Berwick where the staff were ready to cope with our numbers, as they had the upstairs section open for us. Here a mixture of bacon rolls, scones and lots of other cakes were on offer. What they had not prepared for was another bus load from Bonnyrigg, who had not booked but luckily came in after us!
We then had a lovely drive down to Alnwick Gardens where the staff were waiting for us with tickets, maps and discount vouchers for their shop. The gardens are in a lovely setting with a terraced fountain on show from the entrance. The weather was kind as it did not rain although there was a cool breeze and very little sun. The highlight for some was the Poison Garden and the interesting stories the guides had to tell. (Don't keep your daffodils bulbs beside your onions in the green house, as one family found out at Christmas when the bulbs were used in the dinner instead of the onions and all ended up in A&E in Newcastle).
High Tea (a two course meal) was at the Victoria Hotel in Bamburgh. All agreed that it was one of the nicest meals we have had.
As usual the drivers went out of their way to make sure most people were dropped off along the coach routes to Waterloo Place if near to home or transport.
Many thanks to the event organisers, Liz, Moira, Carol, etc. and to Austin Travel.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Summer Outings 2015 - Dates and Venues

The committee has now finalised bookings for the Summer Outings.
Here is what we are planning (and note correction to Septemebr date):-

  • Thursday 14th May - Visit to Alnwick Gardens (Northumberland)
  • Wednesday 17th June - Visit to Falkland Palace (Fife), then time in St Andrews
  • Monday 13th July - Morning stop in Melrose, then visit Abbotsford House
  • Friday 7th August - Ayr Flower Show in Rozelle Park, Ayr
  • Tuesday 8th September - The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery (near Crieff) then visit Drummond Gardens (also near Crieff)
Each outing will be an all-day coach trip, with High Tea somewhere on the journey back.
Full details of the outings, including costs, timings and booking form will be issued to members in due course.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Strollers Walk No. 192 - Thursday 23rd April 2015, Union Canal and Water of Leith

Date:             Thursday 23rd April 2015
Start Time:    11:00
Distance:       6 miles
Duration:       2.5 hours
Start at:         Haymarket Station, Edinburgh
What happened to those April showers? With temperatures of 19C forty strollers met for a walk along the Union Canal then circling back to Haymarket via the Water of Leith footpath.
Making our way from Haymarket Station up Morrison Street and along Gardner’s Crescent with its newly renovated gardens and passing Rosemount Cottages, an example of the 2 up 2 down houses in Edinburgh. On to Edinburgh Quay which is now the end of the canal in Edinburgh. There used to be link to Lochrin Basin and the brewery there, as well as the main dock where the Odeon Cinema is now. Then passing the ‘hole-in-the-ground’ that was meant to be the Bank of Scotland Headquarters and wondering if it will lie like that for as long as the site of the old Pooles Cinema in Castle Terrace did. We passed the Leamington Lift Bridge which needs to be raised for canal boats to go by, while on our right was the building site for the new Boroughmuir Secondary School next to the new student accommodation built in the wonderful mix of colours as required by the town planning. Continuing on past Harrison Park and Polwarth Parish Church with its fine pulpit carved by William Beveridge in 1903 and on to the Edinburgh Canal Society Boathouse recently restored with Heritage funding. Next was Meggetland which in 1890 was home to a major exhibition of Science Art in Industry with stations being built specially to bring visitors to it. The area is now home to Boroughmuir Rugby Club and playing fields as well as to the St Andrews Rowing Club which is the oldest rowing club in Scotland dating from 1846. It was then on to the Water of Leith Centre and a stop for some refreshments taking the lady in charge by surprise but she coped well with the sudden rush.
Heading down river along the Water of Leith path, under the railway and canal we had just walked along. As we continued along the path we saw allotmenteers beavering away in an extensive area of allotments while on the other side of the river was Saughton Prison, which working with Stirling University, has developed an International reputation for fish breeding.

Braving the road crossings of the A71, we came to Ford Road and into Saughton Park. It was originally laid out in the 17th century on the estate of Saughton House, which was then used as an asylum for wealthy patients, innovatively using the gardens as an early form of horticultural therapy. The council acquired it in the early 1900’s. The rose garden is always a very popular attraction at the park later in the year. In 1908 the Scottish National Exhibition was held here, which was a massively successful undertaking attracting 3.5 million paying visitors who were entertained and educated by an array of exhibitions, attractions, recreations and amusements. The Exhibition left a significant legacy in terms of form, features and recreational demand, financing new park entrances, a footpath network, sporting facilities, a bandstand and a winter garden and botanical garden. There is now a project in place to try and restore some of these elements to the park to renew and re-capture it for a modern park-going population.
Crossing Balgreen Road, we continued along the riverside path passing Murrayfield rugby stadium. The stadium takes its name from Archibald Murray who was the landowner here in the 18th century. It was a polo ground before the stadium in 1925 had been built. In the inaugural match, Scotland beat England 14-11. Those were the days! We then passed Murrayfield Ice Rink which was constructed on the site of Dalry Mill, the first paper mill built on the Water of Leith.
Going on into Roseburn Park which came into the ownership of the old Edinburgh Corporation in two parts: the first acquisition of 10.33 acres, part of the lands of Roseburn, was in 1898 from Edward Balfour, Esq., of Balbirnie and others, on the basis that it would be used for all time as a public park. The later purchase of 5.86 acres was from part of the estate of Damhead from Sir Archibald Campbell of Succoth in 1906. During World War Two, air raid shelters were located in the park and part of it was allocated to allotments. Sighting a Heron in the water it was time for a photostop. At the end of the park we crossed the road and continued along the riverside path and passed under the Coltbridge Viaduct which formed part of the Granton Branch of the Caledonian Railway and is now part of the cycle and walking paths round Edinburgh.
Continuing along to the weir at the exit for Modern Gallery of Art, where we saw another Heron looking for its lunch, we left the path by a steepish slope that somehow had not been mentioned in the puff factor for the walk, and made our way back to Haymarket.
Thanks very much to Ronnie for arranging what was a very interesting walk on a beautiful day. No pressure for the next walk then!

National Trust for Scotland - Car Park Sticker

Are you a member of National Trust for Scotland? If so, like me, you will recently have received their Spring 2015 magazine "Scotland in Trust". Hidden away on page 49 of that magazine you will find the sticker that entitles you to free parking at NTS sites until 31/03/2016. Please don't throw out the magazine without detaching your car park sticker.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Strollers Walk No. 191 - Wednesday 18th March 2015, Dechmont to Bangour Village Hospital (Circular walk)

Walk No: 191       Dechmont to Bangour Village Hospital (Circular walk)
Date:                   Wednesday 18th March 2015                   
Start Time:           11:00 a.m. (Dobbies)

Summary of Walk
March is usually a time of mist, drizzle and generally dreich days. Yes, it was time for Strollers to head off into the wilds of West Lothian to Dechmont for a walk round the site of Bangour Village Hospital. We met at Dobbies, allowing the Strollers to fortify themselves with the full breakfast before the walk and to head back in for the soup, cakes and scones afterwards. A lot of planning goes into this you know, it’s not just a random choice of location.
Luckily the weather changed and it was a nice calm almost bright day for the walk and twenty five Strollers (plus dog) headed out to walk through Dechmont village to the main entrance of what used to be Bangour Village Hospital (see below for some history of the hospital).
As we wandered round the hospital grounds looking at the various derelict buildings, it was interesting to find that some of us on the walk had previous links to the hospital through relatives who worked and stayed at the site. They told us about attending dances and playing badminton in the recreation hall. So it was a shame to see so many of the buildings in a bad state of repair. Also, some of the walkers had different connections to Bangour, being born at the General Hospital or had children born there. Eventually we made our way out of the site and back through Dechmont, ending the walk at Dobbies.
Thanks again to Alistair and Liz for organising a very interesting and informative walk.

Some history of Bangour Village Hospital:
By the late 1890s, the growth of cities in Victorian times concentrated the problems of the mentally ill in cities such as Edinburgh. More accommodation was needed, so in 1902 the Edinburgh District Lunacy Board purchased the 960 acre Bangour Estate in West Lothian and set about planning the construction of Bangour Village Hospital. Five temporary buildings were hastily erected. The first one was occupied by patients from The Royal Edinburgh Asylum in June 1904 and five buildings were in use by the end of 1905, housing 200 patients. The new Village was officially opened in October 1906 although several of the permanent buildings were not completed until 1907 and the main hospital building was not opened until June 1908. By 1913 Bangour Village Hospital housed 836 Edinburgh mental patients.
After the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, it soon became clear that significant hospital accommodation would be required for war casualties. The War Office decided that a large hospital would be required in Scotland and that Bangour, with its modern facilities, was the ideal site. By the middle of 1915, plans were in place to evacuate the mental patients to other hospitals around the country. The capacity of Bangour was rapidly increased from 800 patients to 1,350 and within three weeks the first casualties arrived. Bangour became the largest military hospital in Scotland. By 1918, with the addition of temporary buildings and marquees, Bangour housed over 3,000 patients. After the Armistice, the number of patients gradually decreased, but it was not until the end of 1921 that Edinburgh War Hospital finally closed and the site handed back for civilian use. Bangour Village again became a mental asylum in 1922, housing 1,000 patients by 1928.
The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 saw Bangour again being requisitioned as a war hospital. Fearing large numbers of casualties from the expected German blitz, the government quickly established thousands of new beds in temporary hospitals, including at Bangour. An Annexe rapidly took shape on the hilltop north-west of the farm to allow for 1400 additional beds. After the war, the Annexe became Bangour General Hospital and part of the National Health Service from 1948 serving West Lothian. The Bangour Village reverted once more to a mental institution. In due course St John’s Hospital in Livingston replaced Bangour General Hospital completely and the Annexe buildings were demolished. Eventually Bangour Village Hospital also closed, but its listed buildings remain, including the beautiful war memorial church completed and opened in 1929 to commemorate the site’s days as a war hospital. The whole site is now for sale for housing development.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Annual General Meeting was held on Thursday 26th February 2015

We held our AGM on Thursday 26th February 2015 at the Royal Over-Seas League in Princes Street, Edinburgh. Around 80 members attended and enjoyed the venue and the afternoon.

Notice of the AGM was sent to all members (either by email or post). This included the Agenda for the meeting and Chairman's Report on 2014. If you did not received notice of the event, please send an email to the mailbox at sl.pensioners.association@gmail.com giving you name and postal code, so that I can check that hold the correct email and postal address information for you, thanks.

Minutes of the meeting have been circulated to committee members and are available to any member via email on request.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Strollers Walk No. 190 - Thursday 19th February 2015, Moray Estate to West End

Walk Number 190:     Historic Walk - West End, Moray Estate to  Stockbridge

On Thursday 19th February, fifty five Strollers met outside West Register House in Charlotte Square for the February History Walk led by our Blue Badge Guides Karen and Helen. It was a bright sunny day with a bit of a wind but thankfully none of the rain that was forecast. West Register House used to be St George’s Church and was a key feature of James Craig’s plan for the west-end of Edinburgh New Town.
We were enlightened on the set up of Charlotte Square and how the perfect symmetry of the new-town plan could not be completed beyond the north-west corner of the square because it bordered on to land owned by the Earl of Moray. We were also reminded about the ‘glass’ tax, not the ‘window’ tax that we tend to assume it was. The extent of the Moray Estate was explained to us and that Lord Moray demolished Drumsheugh House, his home there, because he felt that the ‘New Town’ was encroaching on his space. Something I’m sure the rest of us can only aspire to.
We made our way down to St Colme Street discussing the merits of ‘cobbles’ or ‘sets’ in the road and the pavement being made up of chips of stone from building work at Edinburgh Castle. There we took time to look at the monument to Catherine Sinclair, 4th daughter of Sir John Sinclair, who wrote children's books and did a lot of charitable work. The monument is modelled on Sir Walter Scott’s monument in its Gothic design but is also known as an Eleanor Cross after the crosses erected by Edward I to mark the journey of the body of his wife Eleanor back to London. There are three Eleanor Crosses remaining, the most famous being that at Charing Cross.
From here we made our way down Weymss Place, passing Gloucester Lane, which also used to be know as Kirk Lane as the people from Stockbridge used to come up this way to go to St George’s Church. We then entered the streets that were developed as “The Moray Feu” via Forres Street, arriving at Moray Place. The majority of the streets are either named after the Moray family or places from his country estates, e.g. Forres Street, Doune Terrace and Randolph Place. We went into the private gardens in the centre of Moray Place, which gave us a better perspective to see the size, scale and shape of Moray Place. Our guide had managed to obtain a key to these gardens. We learned that the street is built in the shape of decahedron, having 10 sides and that the plans for the whole estate were drawn up by James Gillespie Graham. The land was sold in plots to different builders but the exterior of each feu had to match that of the plans. The potential purchasers were also strictly vetted for “suitability”. We then had to beat a hasty retreat from the private gardens when one of the members of the Moray Feu management people asked who gave us permission to be there!
The Earl himself lived in number 28 for a few years but then moved out. Some of the buildings were used as hospitals during the Second World War. One of the houses also belongs to the queen, and was presented to her by a former Lord Provost in the 1950’s. Lord Reith who was head of the BBC lived there for a short while until his death in 1971. Today the current Earl of Moray is involved in building a ‘new town’ of 5000 houses called Tornagrain, between Inverness and Nairn.
From Doune Terrace we then went into the gardens below the outside of Moray Place and Ainslie Place to work our way down the Water of Leith. We stopped to look at the series of arches that had to be built after a landslide, in order to keep Ainslie Place from falling down the slope into the river. The arches go for some 30 feet under the gardens of the houses.
We continued down to St Bernard’s Well on the Water of Leith, built in 1760. The well was named after an old legend that St Bernard of Clairvaux once lived in a cave nearby. The waters of the well were held in high repute for their medicinal qualities, and the nobility and gentry took summer quarters in the valley to drink deep draughts of the water and take the country air. In 1788 Lord Gardenstone, a wealthy Court of Session judge who thought he had benefited from the mineral spring, commissioned Alexander Nasmyth to design a new pump room. The builder John Wilson began work in 1789. It is in the shape of a circular Greek temple supported by ten tall Doric order columns with a statue of Hygieia, the Greek goddess of health, in the centre made in 1791 from Coade stone. The wonderful mosaic interior is by Thomas Bonnar. St Bernard's F.C., a once successful Scottish team but now defunct, was named after the famous well and played in Stockbridge.
From there we looked across the river to the houses built by the artist Henry Raeburn including Anne Street named after his wife. We can dream. We ended our walk at Stockbridge.

Our thanks again to Karen and Helen for all the information we enjoyed during the walk. We may even remember some of it!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Strollers Walk No. 189: Tuesday 20th January 2015, Historic Walk down Royal Mile

Walk No. 189:   Historic Walk - Royal Mile, Edinburgh
Date:                 Tuesday 20th January 2015
Start Time:        10:45 a.m.
On a very cold but bright sunny day with no wind and dry underfoot, sixty Strollers turned out well wrapped up for the January History Walk led by our Blue Badge Guides Karen and Helen. We met outside John Knox’s House in the Royal Mile where we started the walk by hearing a bit about the location of the mistresses of Deacon Brodie (at least 3 plus his wife) and how one led to his downfall. We then sneaked down the Close to the back of the house to hear all about Patrick Geddes. He was born in Ballater, went to school in Perthshire and then came to Edinburgh University to study Botany. He dropped out after a week but continued to study in London and Paris and in 1890 came back to Edinburgh when appointed assistant in Practical Botany for the University based at the Royal Botanics. He promoted the idea of ‘green space’ in towns for the health benefits and you can still see these open spaces and gardens down the closes of Edinburgh today. He also promoted ‘learning by doing’ and arranged for the school children to be involved in growing their own vegetables (sounds familiar). He arranged many exhibitions and travelled extensively promoting his ideas and being involved in planning towns from Jerusalem to Colombo in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). He lived in India from 1917 to 1924 when for health reasons he moved to the South of France until his death in 1932.
We then crossed the street to Tweeddale Close where the house of Dame Margaret Kerr was. This subsequently became the Head Office of the British Linen Bank which led to robbery and murder. It then became a printers and home to the Poetry Society. Sheds for Sedan Chairs still exists in Tweeddale Close. It was then off down to Chessels Court, purpose built flats dating from 1748, and where at one time the Customs and Excise had rooms which Deacon Brodie robbed. It was this last robbery which ultimately led to his downfall after fleeing to Flanders. Here we heard about the tale of Andrew Gray, who fled Edinburgh after being sentenced to death for rioting, went to Morocco and returned many years later as a sea-captain. He saved the Lord Provost’s daughter from the plague, later married her and they lived in a house on the Royal Mile near where a statue of
a Moorish man can be seen above the door.
Next we went into Sugarhouse Close, originally a sugar refinery then a brewery but now student accommodation, and then Bakehouse Close to hear about the origins of Bovril. It was time for some warmth, so Karen had arranged access to Old Moray House, dating from 1618 and built for Mary Countess of Home, now part of the University. The interior ceilings and walls still remain as they were intended and were beautiful to look at and admire. The house was also used by Cromwell when in Edinburgh. The balcony overlooking the Royal Mile only had its railing added in 1842 so that no one would fall on Queen Victoria as she passed by in her carriage. It must have been a precarious vantage point before that.
Leaving there we went up to visit the Lodge Canongate Kilwinning number 2 in St John Street where Sandy gave us a talk on the history of the Lodge and its prominent members like Robert Burns. It is the oldest continually used Lodge in the world and one that was built specifically for that purpose in 1735, though the Lodge dates from around 1677. It was a lovely building with some of our attendees getting caught out by the 3D style paintings on the wall, and all were impressed by the Sneltzer Organ dating from 1757 and still powered by hand today. We then had a brief stop outside the Museum of Edinburgh to hear about the number of brothels that used to exist on the Royal Mile (lots), where the age expectancy of the people who worked there was only 30, and to look at the sea shells in the side of the buildings put there to ward off witches. We then crossed over to Dunbar Close to see another example of gardens that Geddes had arranged, and site of a bar that Rabbie Burns used to frequent.
Finally, at the foot of the Royal Mile we heard a story about conspiracy, murder and execution involving a wife, her maid and butler. With a cunning that would please current ‘soap’ writers, the ‘lady’ was beheaded by the ‘maiden’, Edinburgh’s version of the guillotine, while her maid was burnt on the Castle Hill at the same time to divert attention from the other execution. The butler was eventually caught and sentenced to death on the wrack, which was normally only used for interrogations. The judge was obviously a friend of the murdered husband.

Our thanks again to Karen, Helen and Sandy for all the information we enjoyed on the walk.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Strollers Walks - Dates for 2015

Here is the schedule of dates planned for Strollers Walks in 2015:

20/01/2015  Tuesday          Historic Walk in Royal Mile / Canongate, Edinburgh
19/02/2015  Thursday         Historic Walk - Moray Estate, New Town, Edinburgh
18/03/2015  Wednesday    Dechmont / Bangour, West Lothian
23/04/2015  Thursday         Union Canal and Water of Leith, Edinburgh
18/05/2015  Monday
24/06/2015  Wednesday
21/07/2015  Tuesday
20/08/2015  Thursday
21/09/2015  Monday
20/10/2015  Tuesday
18/11/2015  Wednesday
03/12/2015  Thursday   Christmas Lunch

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Strollers Christmas Lunch: Thursday 4th December 2014

The Strollers Christmas Lunch was held on Thursday 4th December in the Royal Scots Club in Abercrombie Place, Edinburgh. Over 80 Strollers (in number, not in age) attended what was a very good lunch, preceded by mingling and drinks in the bar. After we were piped into the meal by our very own pipe major, Alex, it was time to pull the crackers, laugh at the silly jokes and don the paper hats.
A few glasses of wine or a soft drink to accompany the beautiful beef, turkey, sea bass or vegetarian dish helped the flow of talk round the tables, with mints as well as mince pies to go with the coffee at the end.
Time then for the Strollers Minstrels to take to the stage and give us a rendition of songs from the past 100 years, and to get audience participation with some of the old favourites. It's amazing how good you think you are after a glass of wine or two and how some people remembered the songs from when they were originally released on gramophones!
After a quick quiz on films and music to finish with, it was time to retire to the bar and plan next year.
A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone and all the best for Strolling in 2015.
Many thanks to Drew for organising our lunch and for coordinating all the walks in 2014.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Theatre Group - Programme for early 2015 and Booking Arrangements

The Theatre Group sub-committee have arranged a programme of matinee shows for the first half of 2015 at The King's Theatre and The Festival Theatre, Edinburgh. Details are being circulated to Association members who have expressed interest in the Theatre Group.
Emails have gone out today and letters (for those not on email) will follow shortly.

Please note that booking forms need to be returned by Friday 12th December 2014.

The shows planned are:
Romeo and Juliet, Festival Theatre, Saturday 28 February 2015 at 2:30pm
The Producers, Festival Theatre, Thursday 26 March 2015 at 2:30pm
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Festival Theatre, Thursday 30 April 2015 at 2:30pm
Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense, King's Theatre, Wednesday 13 May 2015 at 2:30pm

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Strollers Walk No. 187: Wednesday 19th November - Holyrood Park

Date:             Wednesday 19th November 2014
Start Time:    11:00a.m.
Distance:       4 miles
Duration:       3.0 hours
Nineteen Strollers met at the Commonwealth Pool to enjoy a walk round Holyrood Park. The weather was a bit grey but thankfully there was no rain until we were back at the Pool at the end of the walk. In fact it was quite mild on the walk with no wind, almost balmy for November.
The walk was like a figure of eight starting off along the Radical Road, back up Hunters Bog, round to Dunsapie Loch and then via the Innocent Railway back to the start. 
At the start of the Radical Road it looked like a Dutch get together with lots of people in bright orange suits and hard hats, but they were studying the geological make up of the Salisbury Crags.
Following in the footsteps of the geologist  James Hutton, and Harold Raeburn the mountaineer we made our way down the Radical Road to St Katherines Well. The road is called that as it was built by Radicals from the Dumfries area after a suggestion from Sir Walter Scott.  From there we headed up through Hunters Bog, site of early settlement and an iron age fort, but also the hunting ground of the kings and queens, hence its name. Also used by the Romans and Bonnie Prince Charlie's army, it was also partly flooded by Mary Queen of Scots to hold a birthday party for a lady in waiting and recreating a sea battle off Leith. It is now home to rare plants like adders tongue fern.
We then set off round the road in the direction of Dunsapie Loch. Much of the current layout of the park was created by Prince Albert when he arranged for drainage work to be done and the roads to be put in so people could access the park easier. Dunsapie Loch as well as St Margarets Loch were created at that time. At the base of Arthurs Seat you can still see the outlines of the terraces used for farming by the early settlers. From here we then went down over 200 steps to Duddingston Village, not as sprightly as the joggers who passed us, and past the the famous Sheep Heid Inn. Scene of many a skittles match.
From there we made our way down to the Innocent Railway, site of the Edinburgh and Dalkeith Railway, opened in July 1831, originally as a horse-drawn tramway built to haul agricultural produce and coal from the mines of Lothian up to the Edinburgh at St Leonards, it was Edinburgh's first railway line. At 517 metres, the Innocent Railway tunnel under Holyrood Park is an impressive one, particularly when you consider it was the first railway tunnel in the UK. Before 1845, trains were winched by cable drawn by horse and stationary steam engines up the St Leonard's Inclined Plane.
Avoiding the tunnel some of us went back to the Commonwealth Pool for some well deserved refreshment while others went off to the Engine Shed.
Dates for the 2015 walks will be sent out soon.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Strollers Walk No. 186: Braid Hills, Blackford Hill, Hermitage of Braid on Tuesday 21st October 2014

Date:            Tuesday 21st October 2014
Start Time:   11:00
Distance:     A circular walk of 3.5 miles, approximately
Duration:      2 hours, approximately
Start at:        Braid Hills Hotel, 134 Braid Road, Edinburgh, EH10 6JD
Ignoring the weather forecast for heavy rain and gale force winds twenty three Strollers gathered at the Braid Hills Hotel for coffee and biscuits on what turned out to be a bright sunny day.  Thankfully the weather front had settled elsewhere and so all was fair for a walk round the Braids, Blackford Hill and through the Hermitage of Braid.
Setting off along Braid Road and on to the bridle path skirting the Braids golf course, waiting for stragglers who can’t tie shoe laces, skipping over puddles and avoiding the trail markers left by the horses it was time to cross the road to head down the Lang Linn path to Hermitage of Braid.
Crossing the Braid Burn we climbed the path up towards Blackford Hill, an early factor 5 on the puffometer, and followed it round above the allotments and Blackford pond. Stopping here to allow the more leisurely to catch up and make a choice of continuing on or taking the lower route back to the start. Ian passed on information here which was obviously interesting as we gained the attention of a little dog who was all ears as Ian spoke.
From here it was up again, skirting the Royal Observatory Edinburgh building, built here in 1896 with support from the Earl of Crawford who gifted his library and equipment from his own Aberdeenshire observatory. The Royal Observatory Edinburgh has been in existence since 1786 and is still highly regarded in the world of astronomy today.
Blackford Hill itself being one of the ‘7’ hills of Edinburgh with its typical volcanic shape of crag and tail. Coming back round the hill to rejoin the path just above the Braid Burn we headed back down the path to the burn and along to past the Hermitage of Braid, built in 1785, and now a visitor centre.

From here it was along the path and back up the hill to the Braid Hills Hotel and time for a quick lunch before heading home.

Thanks to Ian K********** for arranging the weather to be so nice and for arranging the walk.  

Here’s hoping November will be as nice!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Strollers Walk No. 185, Aberdour to Burntisland, Monday 22nd September 2014

Walk No. 185:    Aberdour to Burnisland - part of the Fife Coastal Path
Date:            Monday 22nd September 2014
Start at:       Aberdour Rail Station Car Park
Finish at:      Burntisland Main Street
Meet at:      11:00 a.m.
Distance:     4.5 miles approximately
Duration:     2.5 hours approximately

Well, 21 of us turned up at Aberdour Station this morning to set off on the Fife Coastal Path to Burntisland. It was a pleasant morning, with the weather clearing as we went. We headed down the road towards Aberdour Harbour then walked round to climb the steps up onto Hawkcraig point (site of a previous war-time installation called HMS Tarlair). We the descended to Silver Sands beach for a break at the excellent cafe (best scones yet, says Alec). The path then followed the railway line until we reached the modern housing on the outskirts of Burntisland. We continued right on through the town into the High Street, where we dispersed for various travel options, bus, or train, or pub lunch, or whatever.
Thanks to Isobel for organising this walk for us.
For more information on the Fife Coastal Path, see their website at http://www.fifecoastalpath.co.uk/.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Theatre Group - Christmas Pantomime 2014

This year's pantomime is Aladdin at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh. We have made a provisional booking for the Matinee Performance on Thursday 11th December 2014. Details of how to book have been sent out to members who have expressed interest in the Theatre Group. If any other members wish details, please contact our mailbox at sl.pensioners.association@gmail.com and I will send the details to you.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Outing on Monday 8th September 2014 to Perth Racecourse

The fifth and final summer coach outing was to the Scotland Food & Drink Race Day at Perth Racecourse. 49 of us enjoyed a beatiful sunny day, The food and drink market was fairly limited, but none the less everyone enjoyed the event and some even had a little flutter on a horse or two. Many thanks to everyone involved in making this year's outing such a success.

Strollers Walk no. 184, Thursday 21st August 2014, Duns Railway Walk

Walk No. 184:  Duns Railway Walk
Date:              Thursday 21st August.

Drew did hope for a cooler day for this walk. It was like an October day cold and wet.

Ten braved the elements. It was dry when we left The Market Square in Duns and headed down to the A6105 and up Bridgend to the turn off to the Sinclair Hill Road.  Half way down towards Wedderburn Castle the heavens opened and that was the rain on for most of the walk.  
We entered The Castle grounds by the The West Gate,  an archway butt defined by screen walls and gabled lodges. The Grounds and Castle are private, but as we had been given permission by David Home himself,  we walked through the grounds and round the castle. The Castle was designed and constructed 1771–5 by the famous architect brothers Robert Adam and James Adam, with the work superintendent being James Nisbet, for Patrick Home of Billie . He had already completed Paxton House (using James Adam and Nisbet, with Robert Adam doing the interiors c. 1773. (For those who were on the Paxton house outing they may remember that was the country house built for Patrick Home of Billie in an unsuccessful attempt to woo a Prussian heiress). Wedderburn was where he lived.

We left the Castle by the north gate and headed eastwards and north to the A6105 and to the the old Railway Line.  This railway line was opened in August 1849 as a branch line between Duns and Reston to the main east coast line.  The line was extended in 1865 to join the Edinburgh Hawick line to complete the route from Berwick to Hawick through the eastern Borders. However, the service ended after the devastating floods in 1948 when the line west of Duns was closed.

We followed  the old railway route westwards back towards Duns passed a farm that has Llamas and many types of sheep but I think they were hiding from the rain! The views here walking through the fields and looking towards the hills are usually very nice. By the end of this part of the line there was a bit that was muddy (It wouldn't be a Duns walk without mud!), some thought they had got something smelly on their boots but we had only walked passed the sewage works. We continued the walk passed the Industrial Estate and back towards the Square.
That was when the sun came out when we were having lunch in the White Swan. It has a pensioners lunch on a Thursday,  two courses for £4.95.
(Many thanks for Moira for organising this walk, if not the weather.)

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Outing on Wednesday 6th August 2014 to Pitlochry Festival Theatre

Our fourth coach outing of 2014 took place on Wednesday 6th August, when we had a full day trip to Pitlochry Festival Theatre.  A full 57 seater bus left a very wet Edinburgh to go to the Pitlochry Theatre. We had our coffee stop at Doonfoot where we could either have self service or waiter service. (This is one of the better places for a coffee stop.) We then made our way to Pitlochry where we could have an hours free time walking round the town. Only a few hardy souls decided to brave the elements and do some shopping. Yes, it was still pouring rain, so the rest decided to stay on the bus.

By the time we made our way to the Theatre it was clearing up a bit. The show we saw was a musical comedy called Whisky Kisses. Everyone agreed it was very good with most people leaving the show with a big smile on their faces. We then made our way to the Royal Dunkeld Hotel for High before retuning to a dry Edinburgh.
Many thanks to those involved in organising this trip. - You know who you are!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Strollers Walk No. 183, Tuesday 22 July 2014, Pentlands - Swanston circular walk

Date:            Tuesday 22 July 2014
Start Time:   11:00
Distance:      5 miles
Duration:       3 hours approximately
Meet at:         Hunters Tryst (Public House) Car Park, in Oxgangs

On a day which was more suited to a day by the seaside, twenty seven strollers met up at the Hunters Tryst at Swanston to stroll round the Pentland Hills. Most of the early arrivees had gone into Morrison's for the usual hearty breakfast to fortify them for the walk.

We made our way down through New Swanston and over the bypass to use the path running parallel to the bypass. Earplugs would have been a good move as it was quite noisy here. At the end of this section we were circled by a buzzard, so a few of the strollers decided that the safest thing was to cut short the walk and go the short route back to Swanston Golf Club in time for a coffee. The rest of us continued on past Dreghorn, the army training area and soon to be site of a memorial plantation planted by the Woodland trust to commemorate the outbreak of World War I. From here we headed down to the bottom of the Bonaly Burn, which offered another chance for people to use the path down to Colinton Village if they wanted to. However the mention of stopping for lunch kept everyone together. Mention must be made of the sandwiches that Elzabe had prepared for David. There seemed to be a never ending supply being pulled from his rucksack.
It was time to move on and work our way up the hill to Green Craig Cistern. This was built as part of the first developments in providing water to Edinburgh from the reservoirs in the Pentlands. The Strollers had extra company for this part with 3 dogs joining us to take our mind off the hill. From here we headed back towards Swanston Golf Course where we divided into those who took the low road past Robert Louis Stevenson's cottage and those that took the high road to see the Highland coos. John and Kathy had meanwhile gone off on a treasure hunt to find their missing camera case - they took the low road home. The high road group then came down through Swanston Village with its thatched cottages, where we met up with one of the local residents, who was familiar to most of the group, Norrie McLeod. It was then down to the golf club for a well earned drink and rest.

Many thanks to Drew and Eleanor for organising today’s walk.
The August walk will be to Duns – let's hope for a slightly cooler day (says Drew).