7 Hills of Edinburgh – Blackford Hill

So it’s fair to say my project of climbing the 7 hills of Edinburgh (see previous post) is progressing… slowly. So slowly, in fact, that it took an external agency to give me a kick up the bahoochie to complete the ascent of number 2. And even at that, it was the easiest and most convenient of the 7.

Our good friend of many years, Ann, formerly of this parish, who was up to visit her Mum. Apparently she’d never climbed Blackford Hill despite living nearby for many years, so that was something we set out to sort.

The Hill, which was bought by the City in 1884 (and yes, common good fans, it’s common good property) houses an Observatory, still used, although its principal value for star-gazing has long been overtaken by light pollution. It’s still a very grand affair, the last building beyond the street of houses that cling to the Hill’s lower slopes.

The approach from the street is the easiest ascent by far, with  time for photos and a stop to admire the view, which, even from this saddle of lower land, is still pretty impressive. At the moment, that most underrated of Scottish spring blooms, the gorse, is out, providing a foreground burst of bright yellow for the view northwards toward the city itself.

We had our walk on Easter Monday, by which time the egg-rollers had risen again, leaving only the occasional traces of eggshell as proof of their existence. I have to say the Hill is remarkably litter free – tribute to either the good manners of its walkers and runners, the efficiency of the City Council’s clear up squads, or maybe just the strength of the constant breeze.

Either way it’s a fantastic place for an easy-paced amble, and although it has elements of interest on its slopes (as well as the Observatory, there’s the remains of a pretty well hidden ancient hill fort on the summit as well as the Agassiz Rock, a quarry where a Swiss geologist first noted the effect of glaciers in Scotland) the main reason to go up there is the views.

It doesn’t have to be much of a clear day, nor do you have to be much of a geologist, to see the effect of glaciers on the surrounding landscape. Blackford Hill itself is apparently a different kind of volcanic rock from the Castle and Bass Rocks, Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags, and further distant, Berwick Law and the Lomond Hills, but all in their time withstood the crushing weight of ice shouldering past them and now stand, like ships in a vast sea of green and brown, towering over the human habitations hewn from the soft sandstone below.

To the south, farmland stretches towards the Braid Hills and then the higher peaks pf the Pentlands. One of the things we treasure about where we live now is that, as well as being a short distance from the southern part of Edinburgh’s urban core, a ten minute walk takes you to fields of green.

A memorable day spent reconnecting with a close pal and reminding her of the beauty of her home town.

Since you’re here….

You might want to check out my latest musical effort, ‘I Still Believe,’ an EP of 5 songs crafted in close collaboration with my pals Gerry Callaghan and Norman Lamont, and available for pre-order now on Bandcamp before its release on 6th May.

More on the EP soon, but meantime, here’s a taster: the first track on the EP, ‘I Surrender.’

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