A windy walk in the Pentlands

Having several weeks to wait until completion on the house we are buying happens means we have some time to spend exploring our local area. This has been limited by some very heavy rains but Saturday’s overnight heavy rain had ceased but it remained very windy. We had arranged to meet up with some friends for a dog walk because new pandemic rules meant that we could not meet up with them and another couple for a meal that had been planned for the following week. The Pentland Hills Regional Park is outside Edinburgh but the part we visited is only six miles from the city centre on the north slopes of the hills. There are access points from other places and a visitors centre at Flotterstone on the A702. Clubbiedean and Torduff reservoirs are close to Bonaly and south of the city bypass. They were constructed in 1850 and are managed by Scottish Water who have some works ongoing nearby. After parking, we walked up the path to the first reservoir; Tarduff.

As it was a weekend, the track was fairly busy with walkers and cyclists. At this time of year, it is also good place for foraging with blackberries, rowan and hawthorn berries and rosehips to be found by the side of the path. Wild camping is permitted and I spotted one tent on the other side of the water. The regional park is large and there are many other paths around it, including loops around each of these reservoirs.

Clubbiedean reservoir lies above Torduff; they are two of several in the park and the surrounding hills have views over the city, the River Forth and over to Fife. There are the remains of an ancient fort consisting of a ditch, stony bank and stone wall on the other side of the water from the track we were on. Fishing licences can be obtained and a number of people were fishing when we visited. There is a café next to Clubbiedean run by a relative of our friends which was a great place to stop before returning back to the city.

An emotional journey

My first visit to Scotland was when I was six weeks old; with my parents on their motorcycle and sidecar. Other relatives were there earlier. Here is my grandfather having a break at Shap on his way north in 1952.

In the late 1960s, my father left Rolls Royce and got the job as Chief Engineer with Alexanders Coach Builders in Falkirk. I had done just over a year at my first primary school and attended two others in Scotland and two high schools because we moved to Dunblane in 1975. We had spent many family holidays camping on the west coast near Oban. After five years at Aberdeen University and house jobs in Inverness and Fort William; I met my husband during my surgical house job in Stirling. My psychiatric training began the following year in Edinburgh and James started his general practice training. It was our intention to stay in Scotland but although it might be hard to believe now when there is a shortage of GPs; in 1989 over 100 people were applying for GP jobs in Lothian. Eventually, one of the consultants he had worked for said that her friend was looking for a new GP partner in South Cheshire. So, in early 1990 with two cats and myself 24 weeks pregnant with our son, we drove south to a building which would be our home and the GP surgery for four years. In 1994 I had worked as a research assistant and been appointed as a Lecturer at Keele University. The practice needed to expand and we could now afford to look for our own place. In August moved into Bank House Farm.

26 years and two days later, we sold up and moved out, returning to Scotland which we had been planning for some time. Our neighbours and church gave us a wonderful farewell and we set out; James driving the campervan and myself the car. The heavy rains and flooding meant that on the motorway between junctions 18 and 19, four lanes were reduced to two. I found myself in very slow-moving traffic sandwiched between a Porsche and a Jaguar. Otherwise the journey was uneventful and we installed ourselves in the Edinburgh flat. A few days later we viewed a house in North Berwick and put in an offer which was accepted. I had not expected that to happen quite so soon but the completion date was a few weeks further on to allow the sellers to pack up and find somewhere to rent. We have some time to kill in between a couple of commitments in the meantime. Fortunately, things are starting to open up a little after lockdown. I had spotted a Cubism exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art so booked tickets and walked down there a few days ago. We were a little early so sat in the grounds.

There was an interesting illuminated message over the front of the building.

I am not so sure that we can be quite so optimistic at present.

The small exhibition had works by familiar artists such as Picasso and Braque but also many by less familiar names.

I am hoping to have more time to devote to art and abstract art in particular now that I do not have ¾ acre to look after.

Yesterday we decided to spend some time looking around North Berwick as the weather looked more promising. We were there early enough to get parked down on the sea front.

We wandered along the High Street, had a coffee and then on further east along the shore.

North Berwick Glen has a footpath taking you uphill from the east beach to near where our new home is. The Glen contains several ruins.

The oldest are of the Mills of Kenteath which are thought to date from the 1300s. They were used to grind grain until the 1840s. The Waulk Mill was built in 1738 at the bottom of the glen to provide fabric for the local weavers. It was replaced by a washhouse which also later became a ruin. There are numerous other interesting places to explore in the local area, some which I have not been to for a long time; others I have never visited.