Monday, 5 March 2012

Castles in the Air

Today, I found myself walking along Braid Hills Drive, which is to the south of central Edinburgh. This road affords some magnificent views to the east, north and west. As the sun was sharing it's grace on us mere mortals and the cold air was giving a crisp sharp edge to the day, I abandoned my original plans and headed for this viewpoint. However, as soon as I had arrived, a gang of adolescent clouds, just for a laugh, covered the sun, plunging this view into a dull and grey landscape.  I made a note to return yet again when there are no clouds and took the photo any way.

I have always found it easy to go back, in my mind, to earlier times, with the two castles in this scene, looking at each other across a landscape quite different from today. If you apply your imagination and let the buildings and homes disappear to be replaced by woodlands and fields, you should be able to recreate the medieval scene, with only the two castles forming any evidence of human presence.

You may be having a problem locating one of the castles but if you look to the left of the panorama, just above the woods, you will see Craigmillar Castle. This is better seen in the shot on the right, with the castle in the centre of the picture. This castle is probably best known because of it's connection with Mary Queen of Scots. She stayed there to convalescence after the birth of her son, who was destined to become King James VI of Scotland and then also as James I of England and Ireland.  The castle was built in the 14th. century and if you are the least interested in history and/or castles, then it is well worth a visit. It is looked after by Historic Scotland and the views that can be seen from it's ramparts are fantastic. There is an area to the south of the castle that is to this day, known as Little France. This was because the entourage of Mary Queen of Scots took up residence there and it is now the location of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.  I have not been to the castle for some time but must make a return visit soon. The right hand picture is interesting for other reasons. To the left of the castle, in the distance, is North Berwick Law. This is a hill formed by a volcanic plug of hard rock that even the glaciers of the ice age could not remove. I have never been to the top of this hill but must do so soon. It seems that the older I get, the more hills I fined that I want to climb. While we might be tempted to marvel at the age and history of the castle, it is only a baby when compared to the hill. To complete this age comparison, to the right of the castle, can be seen the coal fired power station of Cockenzie. This also has a history, it started producing power in the late 1960's and is on the site of a former colliery. Coal originally came from mines in the Lothians and then from mines in Fife, Ayrshire and beyond. Now a low sulphur coal from Russia feeds the boilers which drives the generators to supply us with the essential power which our modern lives need. Some of that electricity is being used by myself to type this blog. Lets hope some of the electrons racing from Cockenzie are being put to worthy use.

Before I go, you will be wanting to know about the other castle in the panorama. It is to the right and is known as Liberton Tower. Built in the 15th. century, it has passed through many hands and is privately owned and not open to the public.

Look at the panorama again and let your imagination and creative skills take you back through the centuries and the millenniums to times past. Isn't history fantastic? Be sure that you have a good warm coat and your vest on when you get back to the ice age and watch the Law being polished.

Until the next time.....


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