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Showing posts from March, 2017

Walk: On safari at Corstorphine Hill

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A rather famous zoo covers part of Corstorphine Hill, but there's plenty left over to explore without risking being trampled by wildebeest. The wooded summit is crowned with Clermiston Tower, built in 1871 to celebrate the centenary of Walter Scott's birth. Elsewhere, a maze of paths criss-cross interesting rocky knolls, with excellent views towards Edinburgh, Arthur's Seat and the Forth Bridges from the occasional open areas. It doesn't really matter exactly which route you take, but make sure to walk the entire length of the ridge to see the most interesting parts of the hill.


Name: Walk: On safari at Corstorphine Hill ★★☆☆
Length: 5 km / 3 miles
Ascent: 140 metres
Main summits: Corstorphine Hill (162 metres)
Points of interest: Clermiston Tower
Start / finish: Hillpark Avenue, Davidson's Mains, Edinburgh, G.R.: NT 205751 / wells grows remote

Route: Hillpark Steps - Queensferry Road (A90) - north entrance to park - southern end of ridge via east side of hill - summit &…

Corstorphine Dovecot

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Corstorphine Dovecot was built in the 16th century to provide pigeon meat and droppings for the Corstorphine Castle estate, the rest of which has long since been replaced by well-heeled Edinburgh suburbs. The beehive-shape, stone building now forms an unusual accessory to an already attractive front garden. Views are of the outside only (a locked door prevents access to the interior, which apparently contains 1,060 nest boxes) and it's not worth traveling miles to see, but worth a look if you're passing through the area - perhaps after visiting nearby Edinburgh Zoo.


Name: Corstorphine Dovecot★☆☆☆
Location: Dovecot Road, Corstorphine, Edinburgh, G.R.: NT 201725 / vouch prove laying
Open: Always (exterior only)
Cost: Free

Brow Well

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The waters of the Solway Firth were once a magnet for health tourists. On the edge of the mud flats near the village of Ruthwell is Brow Well, a chalybeate (iron-rich) spring once believed to cure various ailments when combined with bathing in the Firth. Robert Burns is among those who drank the water here to combat failing health. The fact he died days after suggests  the trip wasn't particularly successful, and to be honest it doesn't look too appetising nowadays either.


Name: Brow Well ★☆☆☆
Location: B725 a mile east of Ruthwell, G.R.: NY 086675 / rephrase beaters alive
Open: Always
Cost: Free

Savings Banks Museum

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It sounds unlikely, but the tiny village of Ruthwell in southern Scotland was the location of the world's first savings bank accessible to ordinary people, opening in 1810. The original bank is now a small but interesting museum, with displays about the history of the bank and the man behind it: Reverend Henry Duncan, minister at the local parish church.


Name: Savings Banks Museum★☆☆☆
Location: East end of Ruthwell, G.R.: NY 102674 / spelled ambitions pulses
Open (2017): Tuesday to Saturday, April to September; Thursday to Saturday, October to March
Cost: Free

Devil's Porridge Museum

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Nine miles of land between modern-day Gretna and Eastriggs was once the site of the UK's largest cordite factory, producing over 800 tonnes of explosives each week during the second half of World War I. The author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once described the product of the manufacturing process, mainly carried out by young women by hand, as "a sort of devil's porridge" due to its consistency and dangerous properties. Hence the name of this outstanding, well-presented museum in one of the townships created to house the workers. The museum tells the story of the factory and region alongside the context of bleak, UK-wide wartime history, with passionate staff who gave us a fascinating introduction before leaving us to browse the smart exhibition spread across two floors.


Name: The Devil's Porridge Museum★★☆☆
Location: B721, east end of Eastriggs, G.R.: NY 252663 / provoking homeward tangible
Open (2017): Daily except over Christmas & New Year period
Cost (2017): £5.50…

Anvil Hall

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It's certainly striking, though whether it's beautiful might be open to some debate. Gretna's Anvil Hall is one of dozens of wedding venues scattered around attractive Gretna Green and (less attractive) Gretna. The building dates from 1917 but was converted from a Catholic church into a non-denominational wedding venue in 2003. Access arrangements seem a bit random: we got a guided tour on our first visit, but were thwarted by a late opening time on our last.


Name: Anvil Hall★☆☆☆
Location: Victory Avenue, Gretna, G.R.: NY 318675 / daydreams starting airtime
Open (2017): Irregular but probably most days
Cost: Free

Gretna Green Blacksmiths

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Gretna Green's position just on the Scottish side of the English border saw it transformed from a sleepy village to a famous wedding location where thousands of couples still tie the knot each year. For about 200 years since the 1750's, discrepancies in the law regarding marriage in England compared to Scotland allowed young couples to flee north across the border to be wed to one another without the consent of their parents. Gretna Green was one of the first ports of call, with dozens of unofficial registrars (often of questionable repute) performing the ceremonies. As respected tradesmen, blacksmiths were popular venues, giving rise to "anvil priests" who struck the metal to formalise the act. Today, one of the original smithies has become a major tourist attraction, with an exhibition incorporating the original wedding room alongside several others, 19th century coaches, free Courtship Maze ("where getting together has never been harder!"), and several …