Eskbank to Penicuik (by a completely traffic-free, and virtually hill-free, route)

The number of cycle routes which are opening up around the Lothians on which families and novices can enjoy a relaxed morning or afternoon riding means that there is often little excuse left not to get out on your bike. And so it was that I headed out from Eskbank with my girlfriend and her dad, making for Penicuik along a disused railway.

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Edinburgh’s River

When, 50 years ago, I read out of curiosity the entry for Edinburgh in an ancient edition of the Larousse dictionary, I was astonished – “capitale de l’Écosse, située sur la Leith.” Nowadays, more realistically, it is “sur l’estuaire du Forth.” Yet at one time the role played by Edinburgh’s River, the Water of Leith, in the economy of the town and its surroundings was vital.

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Gladhouse

The history of Edinburgh’s water supply is long and fascinating. As the South Loch (today’s Meadows) dried up, supplies from beyond the city limits were sought, first in the 18th century in the area of Comiston Springs and then in the Pentlands in the 19th century. These involved several on the northern edge of the Moorfoots. Talla followed in the early 20th century, to capture the abundant rainfall of upper Tweeddale, others nearby somewhat later. The huge schemes had long ceased to be exclusive to the city but involved the whole region.

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