Saturday, July 26, 2014

Still Innocent

Last week I spent a few days working in Edinburgh. You may remember that I've been to Edinburgh with work before when I discovered the Innocent Railway. On that occasion I only walked a short distance along the railway as I used it as a way of getting to the pub where we were having dinner. On this visit I was determined to try and see a little more of the line.

Having spent nearly five hours travelling to Edinburgh by train on a very warm day I decided that getting some fresh air by heading out of the city along the railway was a very good idea, so off I set. Access to the line starts at an old goods shed about five minutes from my hotel (see the previous post for more details). Once you've passed the shed you really wouldn't know you were walking along an old railway line as these photos nicely illustrate.

Originally this area was covered with lots of sidings as it was a large coal depot as well as a station. As you can see, today the area is covered in flats instead. In the second photo, if you look past the garages you can just make out the entrance to the tunnel which was one of the main features of the original line. Given that this time I was carrying my proper camera (not the tiny point and shoot thing), and it was well charged, I thought I'd shoot video as I walked through to the other side.

Okay, so that video is rather long and boring, but it's a tunnel what else did you really expect?!

Anyway once you leave the tunnel you are out of the city and into the countryside. Looking back you can see how the tunnel is cut through solid rock at the base of Arthur’s Seat. This is the point at which I left the railway on my previous visit, but this time I kept going.

It's not long before the walls get taller and the railway must have been a fairly tight fit, although I'm sure a train thundering past in the tight confines of the walls would have been impressive. Continuing on and there are the supports for a bridge that has long since disappeared. Looking at an old map it appears it was a foot bridge that simply linked the two fields at either side of the railway, I assume to give the farmer access.

From my research after my last visit I knew that as well as the tunnel and engine shed there was one more important piece of remaining infrastructure, a cast iron bridge, which I was determined to find. Fortunately if you just keep walking you can't miss it.

According to the sign on the wall the bridge spans 18ft and was erected and painted by the Shotts Iron Co. in March 1831 for the grand total of £133.10s. It goes on to say that the bridge "originally extended over the full width of the railway -- from wall to wall. The beams which are curved in top elevation are of 'L' and inverted 'T' cross-sections. They are of outstanding interest as being amongst the earliest surviving examples of their type anywhere". I assume the comment about extending the full width of the railway means that originally the wooden section spanned the entire bridge, and the tarmac covered sections are modern safety features.

I could have kept going along the railway, but I'm not sure what else there is to see and anyway I had to head back to my hotel to get some work done before meeting a colleague for dinner.


  1. It is brilliant Mark. I hate doing video, cheap camera mics pick up my breathing fit to bust as well. You should have talked about things as well.
    Do you know how to split the audio and video from an MVI file?

    I can only say a stunning effort and it sounded like a marathon.
    You have cheered me up. I must go and look at it but I don't feel at home in towns and cities so will, more than likely, leave it to you.

    1. I was very tempted just to remove the audio altogether, as my breathing isn't the most interesting commentary, but the cyclists whizzing past sound interesting. Half the problem was it was unbelieveably warm, and half the tunnel echos which makes it sound like I'm more unfit then I actually am, that and the cheap mic that picks up everything. I was tempted to talk but then though I can't really stretch "it's a tunnel" out for five minutes!

      The one thing I like about walking this one is that within about five to ten minutes of leaving the packed Royal Mile you are out in the countryside with hardly anyone around.

  2. Fab bit of urbex, Mark and most fascinating.