View from the steps

The Scotsman Steps, the enclosed stone staircase leading from just in front of the old Scotsman newspaper building (now a hotel and restaurant as the paper moved to new premises by the Parliament several years ago) down to Market Street below North Bridge, were little used for many years as they were neglected, steps worn and often used by vagrants as a toilet (not pleasant to walk down). Now cleaned up and restored, boasting some lovely stonework and this view from top across North Bridge and the valley that divides the Old and New Towns (where the railway is today) towards the great bulk of what is now the posh Balmoral hotel, but which originally was the North British, a massive hotel built for the then new railways and their travellers. Good to be back in Edinburgh again, I missed the views the city gives me like this:

view from the Scotsman Steps

Edinburgh in the snow

A very quick 360 degree video panorama of Edinburgh from North Bridge (which connects Old and New Towns) during the heavy snows on the way to work last week. It only took a minute but my coat was covered white in that time and the high winds on such an exposed spot were swirling the snow flakes so much you can barely see the Castle, but I thought it was worth it for a quick capture to give you an idea. In better weather this is a great spot for views across the city (if you are ever visiting its a good spot to take pics from)

Look before you leap

I was trying to work out why the bus I was waiting on didn’t come down to the stop but turned off up the wrong street. Then I think, hold on, it is rush hour and there are no buses, no-one else waiting at the stop – oh, what’s the commotion just over the junction of the Royal Mile? Walk up a bit and find the approach to North Bridge is sealed off by the police, ambulance and fire engines sitting there too.

Hmmm, surely it must be a fire or bomb scare? Can’t be another potential leaper, surely? We’ve already had one of those this week, shut down the area for hours. Take another route down to Princes Street and everywhere is a logjam of buses and cars, everything totally fubared. I look up and yup, it is indeed another person threatening to jump from North Bridge – sadly not an unknown act from that spot.

Luckily as with the woman earlier this week he didn’t actually go through with it, although he was there for hours and really messed up the city’s traffic. Since he was walking round the pillar with his hands in his pockets it looks like he was really doing a cry for help and attention (you can see a policeman’s head just over the parapet trying to talk him down) – caused a lot of hassle but you have to feel sorry for the poor sod if he felt he had to go to this extreme.

Now there are folks calling for safety nets to be placed under the bridge because it has been used a number of times for suicides (there’s a Samaritans sign on the bridge because of this) which seems pretty pointless to me (as well as ruining a landmark) since the city is built on several hills with plenty of tall spots. Heck, if someone wanted to leap they could go up Arthur’s Seat and jump off Salisbury Crags, are we going to put a giant net all round the extinct volcano? Then again, I think anyone who was planning to jump off the Crags would probably be pretty serious about it and of course they wouldn’t have the big audience they’d get on the bridge (yeah, I know, cynical, but also probably true since such a public act usually is more of a cry for help – still makes you feel sorry for the guy that he was driven to it though).

Since the traffic in the city was totally messed up by the bridge closure and diversions he caused for hours I looked at the jam of buses and gave up, buggered off to the pub with my friend who was just coming out of his work. Maybe a relaxing pint would have been better for this poor bloke too instead of standing around over a huge drop.