Walking Between Worlds

This walk was part of the Audacious Women Festival 2021 and Terminalia Festival (23//21) on Saturday 20 February, 4 – 5pm (gmt). It was an online tour for anyone who was ambulant or not, in Edinburgh or not! We toured part of the Leith boundary, the Rosebank Cemetery, the North Leith Burial Ground, and the streets in between, using a special format with information, photos, video, maps and conversation about the wonderful women associated with Leith’s past and contemporary connections.

One of the Anthony Gormley statues in the Water of Leith over which we walk as part of the tour

(This walk was originally made on foot with a live group in Edinburgh on 23 February 2020, 3pm – sunset (5.30pm). This event has now taken place but it is hoped that there will be more in the future.)

Happily coinciding with Terminalia, Women Who Walk and the Audacious Women Festival

Walk between worlds

The original tour was a circular one of approx. 2.5 hrs, to muse and meditate on boundaries and borders – between one community of people and another, day and night, life and death and on the cusp of the new moon.

 

A new(ish) moon

We visited the graves of notable women in Rosebank Cemetery, North Leith Burial Ground and South Leith Parish Church. Briefly, at each stopping place, we faced the memorial stones, and learned about their incumbents.

The North Leith Burial Ground is ‘the dead centre of Leith’ according to The Spirit of Leithers

Grave stone, North Leith Burial Ground

The steps taken from one to the next, were equally, if not more important. We walked in memory of loved ones, and mused on life and mortality. It was an opportunity for exchange and silent contemplation. I made a psychogeographical map of the walk afterwards (see below).

Pilrig Church, Leith Walk. At the border between Leith and Edinburgh

Meeting at the join of Pilrig Street and Leith Walk, opposite the location of the Boundary Bar (now renamed as Bier Hoose) which marked the former border between Leith and Edinburgh, it terminated at Robbies (the corner of Iona St and Leith Walk, more or less opposite the start) for libation and conversation about where we had been – both in ourselves and the city.

Lady Mackintosh who raised a regiment for Prince Charlie, buried in the North Leith Burial Ground, Edinburgh

Always wear hardy shoes or boots for tramping pavements and negotiating sodden grass between stones and at the edge of the Water of Leith. This event was free of charge. 

Psychogeography is ‘The study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organised or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals.’

 

Guy Debord from Making Maps

The annual Terminalia Festival of Psychogeography

Terminus was one of the really old Roman gods – he didn’t have a statue, he was a stone marker – and his origin, associated with a physical object, and lack of the usual stories that go with the gods, may have originated from animalistic religions. He had influence over less physical boundaries too, like that between two months, or between two groups of people. Terminalia was celebrated on the 23rd February – which was the last day of the Roman Year, the boundary between two new years.

Women Who Walk

Tamsin Grainger is a member of Women Who Walk. The network is for women who use walking in their creative or academic practice. It includes artists, writers, field historians and archaeologists, psychogeographers, academics and more.

Please note that there is no religious content to this event. Dogs and children are welcome. There are no flights of steps.

Eventbrite ticket (free)

Walking Between Worlds 1 an account of the walk

Walking Between Worlds 2 the second part of an account of the walk

Walking Between Worlds – 3 the third part of an account of the walk

A synchronised Edinburgh walk

When I travel away from Edinburgh, my aim is clear: either to walk Pilgrimage (taking the paths people have trodden before me, where their steps have created tangible layers of spiritual tradition); or to explore a given area, what to me is virgin territory.

But when I am home, my walks are more prosaic – to and from work and the shops for my messages (used in Scotland, meaning errands) – placing my feet on known land, pavements I have walked so many times. Then my focus is on forging new connections between familiar places, seeing the same views from alternative perspectives and finding something new in them.

On Jan 11, I joined in the Snapshot Synchronised Walk (Women Who Walk Network) taking a route from Causewayside in a near-straight line to York Place.

After a day of teaching, a good tramp is therapeutic. Via ghostly vennels, northwards along narrow-walled passageways, up slopes, down flights of steep steps, I discovered a gothic-glowing steeple, a jaundiced arch lit by 19th century streetlamps, and scary blue eyes in a repurposed church. The extra-mundane exuded from the normal.

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Corner of South St Andrew’s Street, Edinburgh, Scotland

I walked Causewayside from Sainsburys, past Summerhall with its ghoulish green up-lighting,

I meandered along the edge of the Meadows, and the South Loch Gin Distillery (which I hadn’t seen before),

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South Loch Gin Distillery, Edinburgh, Scotland

I kept the University on my left,

Until I glimpsed the rear of the National Museum.

I picked my way over the cobbles of West College Street,

Across Chambers Street,

Down steps to meet Guthrie Street half way,

Crossed the Cowgate and took a mini-right to find Stevenlaw’s Close (which I didn’t know was there). Looking right I paused to snap the Stramash Live Music Bar.

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Stramash Live Music Bar, Edinburgh, Scotland

On the opposite side of the High Street was Fleshmarket Close,

On the opposite side of Cockburn Street was the downhill flight past the Halfway House:

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The Balmoral Hotel in the distance, on the corner of North Bridge, Edinburgh, Scotland

Through Waverley Station and up the other side, I crossed Princes Street and took South St Andrew’s Street where I popped my head into the old Bank of Scotland which has become a mighty fine looking hotel.

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The old Bank of Scotland building, St Andrew’s Square, now The Edinburgh Grand, Edinburgh, Scotland

I posted a thank you letter in a pastel pink envelope I had been carrying in my bag for a few days, to my sister in London.

The rain came on.

The wind blew me through the bus station (where a small bag of mini-cheddars were outrageously priced) and out onto York Place, carefully avoiding trapping my toes in the tram lines.

Rounding the corner to Broughton Street I found that the bus stop was closed – again.

All the way down that road I tripped, head down because of the driving wind,

…where I waited 7 minutes, as my coat became increasingly sodden, before taking the bus to my home by the sea.

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Sunset from my apartment, a few days later