21 March 2010

Craigmillar Castle Pt. 1 - Take a Hike

Justin and I went out to Craigmillar Castle last weekend, thus proving that it's worth buying the multipass (in this case, a Historic Scotland membership) because then you'll be darned if you don't get your money's worth out of it. Justin told me we could walk out to the castle. It was close, he said. It'd be a nice day for a stroll, he said. It was one and a half hours, he didn't say.

Perhaps this is why he chose to dress in camouflage for the occasion:

In all fairness, the first forty-five minutes was a lovely, level walk around Arthur's Seat. Scotland may not be full of bright tropical colors, but there is a surprising diversity of earth tones. Count how many shades of green and brown you find in that picture. There's something quite beautiful about it, in a subtle and rugged way.

The path we followed used to be the old Edinburgh and Dalkeith Railway, nicknamed the "Innocent Railway" because... well, depends on who you ask. The Gazetteer for Scotland says it's because of the railway's excellent safety record. The sign on site says it's because it still used horses (also an alternative explanation given by the Gazetteer). Yes, that's right, a horse-drawn train. I suppose the coal-shovelers had slightly different duties here.

The original function of the railway was to bring coal into Edinburgh for urban consumption, but passenger soon latched onto it as a good deal. With the horse-drawn pace, there was no need for formal stations. Passengers could choose to disembark anywhere along the route. The railway also offers a contender for the position of oldest railway tunnel in Britain, but not in the part we walked.

Some sections are still in use, adapted and incorporated into other railway lines, but the section on the way to Craigmillar was decommissioned in 1968 and turned into the present walking/bicycling path.

With, of course, the odd train (and the emphasis here is on "odd"):

Chooga chooga chooga chooga chooga chooga chooga chooga...


What do you mean, I'm not five years old anymore?

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