Where the swans went

We walked along the Water of Leith yesterday afternoon, from Stockbrudge to the port of Leith, and although we left the city centre right after lunch and the walk took only an hour and a few minutes, dusk was falling by the time we got there.  The river is shallow, swift and clear brown, reminiscent of the loch waters on Islay that are turned to whisky. The path was no muddier–and no dryer–than that along the Salisbury Crags the day before and we saw nearly as many other walkers along this route, although more small children and even a couple of prams.

In Leith, new and old and reconstructed buildings all stand cheek by jowl.  We passed what had been in the old wine vaults (pre-1587 according to a plaque on its stone face).  Out on the river, we had passed ruins of mills and an inexplicably high smoke stack–squared as only one might be built after the Industrial Revolution brought such perfecting tools, that rose many feet from mud to sky but was attached to nothing else and had no opening.

We walked back to town along Leith Walk, which is very much a city street, with rows first of Chinese take aways and cheap furiture shops and then, for a pace, Polish delis and (at least in the dark) scary-dark closed old buildings that haven’t eyt been repurposed.

Leith Walk seemed to have nothing to do with the water and didn’t seem particularly shorter as a route.  But perhaps it was the fact that it was, by 4, full on dark.  And we no longer had the swans who had kept us company along the water.

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