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On Our Doorstep - No. 3 – our series highlighting the sporting and cultural activities available in Edinburgh and the Lothians, all within 30 minutes’ drive of Merchiston.

This week we are very close to home with the Colinton Dell, which lies just behind the School. Colinton Dell is one of the many wooded dells that are situated along the steep and open-sided river valley of the Water of Leith, which flows for 24 miles from its source in the Pentland Hills, through the heart of Edinburgh, to its outflow in the Firth of Forth at Leith. This gorge was formed by melt water from the last Scottish ice sheet c15000 years ago, and now flourishes with vegetation and abundant wildlife (kingfisher, herons, otters, deer, etc.).

Colinton Tunnel mural

© The Colinton Tunnel 2020

Through the work of the Water of Leith Conservation Trust and local community projects, the Water of Leith remains a key environmental asset to the City of Edinburgh and provides many opportunities for recreation and education. Long walks and cycle rides can be enjoyed on the Water of Leith Walkway formed from the old railway line that runs the length of the river, and if you look carefully you can see the sites of old mills – the remnants of Edinburgh’s industrial heartland in the 18th and 19th centuries. In Colinton, the former Bogs Mill was responsible for manufacturing the first Scottish banknotes. There is also the Colinton Tunnel, which is a former railway tunnel that goes through the spur of land on which the parish church sits. In this tunnel, a community project aims to create the largest mural in Scotland (140m long), illustrating a Robert Louis Stevenson poem, “From a Railway Carriage”. A recent addition to the mural is a stunning image that links to the line of poetry, "Here is the child who clambers and scrambles, all by himself and gathering brambles".

Colinton Tunnel mural picture of child gathering brambles

© The Colinton Tunnel 2020

Find out more about the Water of Leith on the Water of Leith Conservation Trust website.
Visit the Colinton Tunnel website to find out more about the mural project.

Read previous posts by clicking on the appropriate link:
Week 1 – Edinburgh Castle and the Pentland Hills Regional Park
Week 2 – Virtual tour of the National Museum of Scotland

Lucy Campion