Well…what a day that was…we began where we left off yesterday, at Redhall. It was closed today as the team and volunteers were off on a trip to Little Sparta.

We did not expect to see anyone but lo and behold when we arrived there were some familiar faces there.

Barrow Band
The Barrow Band

Our old friends The Barrow Band were shooting a film to help with an upcoming crowd sourcing project for a new barrow and had decided to use the car park at Redhall because it’s very nice as car parks go. After a few hellos and some mutual photography we had a chat as you do. Turns out they’ve written a short musical…about a Bee. So that’s them booked for our Human Bee In, Easter 2017 @ Wiston Lodge. ( Pop it in your diaries now folks. It will be splendid)

We left them to their filming and we headed once more for the Water of Leith to begin our second day of bee-lining.

Redhall Beginnings

As we walked along feeling like our serendipitous start was a good omen I spied a flash of turquoise zipping across the water. A kingfisher. Such a beauty. Fast too. Too fast for this camera to catch and so all I can do is take a picture with words.It had flown from a rock mid-stream and in a line up river it sped. Dazzling and magical. I felt a blessing to be allowed to witness this wonderful bird in flight. As we walked on our glimmering companion flashed up and down a few times just to make sure everyone got a good luck.

No photo though.Sometimes the best pictures are the ones you never shot.

Along the water we continued past dog walkers who all were happy to stop and chat to fellow canine companions. Once more we spied a Heron. Standing.Watching. Waiting. Tai Chi like movements on the water. The Zen Master of birds.


Time to leave the water as we had reached Colinton and here we discovered that a famous son Robert Louis Stevenson, had spent the summers of his childhood at the manse when his grandfather was the village’s Parish Minister; the philanthropist James Gillespie.

Here RLS was inspired to pen such verses as this:

All the names I know from nurse:
Gardener’s garters, Shepherd’s purse,
Bachelor’s buttons, Lady’s smock,
And the Lady Hollyhock.

Fairy places, fairy things,
Fairy woods where the wild bee wings,
Tiny trees for tiny dames–
These must all be fairy names!

Tiny woods below whose boughs
Shady fairies weave a house;
Tiny tree-tops, rose or thyme,
Where the braver fairies climb!

Fair are grown-up people’s trees,
But the fairest woods are these;
Where, if I were not so tall,
I should live for good and all.

On through Colinton where we saw more reminders of Robert Louis Stephenson adorning walls and even atop flights of steps….the aptly named Long Steps.


Now in urban territory and no longer comforted by the babble of the Leith we discover an old drovers road which our map confirms will take us under the Edinburgh bypass and on towards Dreghorn woods. There is an interesting History of this area and the names of places.

Drovers Road

What our map does not know is that Polofields, a new aspirational housing estate has been built and any droving we might have wanted to do would have been halted by a big fence. Luckily, more serendipity was upon us and a couple of orienteering experts who were re-mapping this area wandered across our path. Much scrutinizing of maps followed and we were on our way again, skirting the estate where you can buy a ‘home we aspire too’ and finally finding our underpass. A great photo opportunity.


After under-passing our way through we found ourselves on M.O.D property. Honestly.


Dreghorn Woods

We strolled some more. Sat for lunch and it began to rain. We are hardy folk though and well prepared and so waterproofs were quickly adorned and lunch was consumed ‘dans la pluie.’

Post lunch notes were made by Meg. Her blog will likely follow on the morrow. If she can read the rain splatted writings!!!Blog Notes

Now with earth underfoot again we march in military formation across to the woods. The Ash, Fraxininus excelsior, made vivid orange by algae and lichen, are a sight. Apparently, according to my recent and brief research,the orange colouring is possibly caused by the alga Trentepohlia abietina.

Orange Ash

Our path took us towards the Pentland Hills, moving us further away from the roaring bypass and the parallel lines of pylons. Upward and then along the golf course we were afforded a rare view of the city of Edinburgh in one direction and The Pentland Hills in t’other.

City View

Pentland Hills

We were moving ever closer to our next point of call in the shape of a wee hamlet by the name of  Swanston.

Such a surprise.

Cottage 1cottage 3cottage 2

They’ve been there a long time. Notes below in italics from the wonderful undiscovered Scotland site

Swanston started life in 1214. A farmer by the name of Svienn took a lease to work the land in this area and the small community which grew up became known as Sveinn’ston. Over the years that became Swanston.

The Swanston you see today had its origins in the early 1700s.

The ten thatched cottages were largely derelict by the time electricity arrived in Swanston in 1949. In 1964 Edinburgh City Council restored them, complete with thatch from River Tay reeds, though as seven slightly larger cottages within the outer walls of the original buildings. It is these beautifully kept thatched cottages which today give Swanston its unique character and much of its attraction.

In 1761 a much earlier City Council started to take an interest in securing a supply of clean water for the city. They therefore built a waterworks to take advantage of several springs in the area and piped the water north into the city. They also built the nearby Swanston Cottage. This was home to Robert Louis Stevenson ( Him again!) from 1867 to 1880, who took a remarkably jaundiced view of the reasons for it being built.

Leaving behind our newly found idyll we moved Eastward along the track out of the hamlet and were soon passing the old golf club and connecting up with the junction of Lothian Burn with the A702. Some road walking and a turn along the Old Pentalnd Road past Damhead and downhill towards our final stop for the day, The Secret Herb Garden.

After the stretch our legs had had we ordered a bowl of water for Pollaidh and we sadly had to make do with coffee and cake. Scrumptious it was.

coffee and cake

The Secret Garden is another haven. It has all sorts going on there. Check out the website or better still go visit. It really is a beautiful space and run by lovely folk. We’ll be setting off from there in the morning with a bit of drumming all being well. There is a facebook event you can sign up for HERE.

That’s pretty much that for today’s blog…more from Meg tomorrow…I’ll leave you with a glimpse of The Secret Garden.

A huge Thank You to Janet Fenton and David MacKenzie for hosting Ewan and myself these past two nights and to Brian Webb for having Meg and Pollaidh.

And now you ask in your heart,
“How shall we distinguish that which is good in pleasure from that which is not good?”
Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower,
But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee.
For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life,
And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love,
And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.

People of Orphalese, be in your pleasures like the flowers and the bees.

extract from The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran





Bee Line 3