My Favourite Place in Scotland: Richard Holloway
As part of the My Favourite Place in Scotland competition Richard Holloway tells his story...
I'll be getting a lift, so it'll be an easy one for me. My son will do the driving from Merchiston, along Colinton Road, up past Redford Barracks, over the Water of Leith and up the curving drive that swings into old Lanark Road and Juniper Green, then on through Balerno and up the road to the Red Moss car park. I could do it in my sleep, that drive, with my dog Daisy in the back of the car, quivering with excitement at the thought of another day on the Pentlands.
We'll walk in up the great beech lined avenue that leads to Bavelaw, and in the October sunlight the drifting leaves will be the colour of bright copper. At the top of the drive a right turn then a left will take us onto the gentle rise of Kitchen Moss and the Pentlands will open before us, the southern backdrop to Scotland's capital, glimpsed from sudden angles in the city's streets, folding away greenly into the distance - Robert Louis Stevenson's Hills of Home. Hare Hill will be on our left to the north as we start the real trek, but our eyes will be fixed on the two kips or peaks that dominate the skyline ahead, West Kip and East Kip. We'll pause at the foot before the ascent and eat a banana. Biodegradable, so the skin can be tossed over the wall to wither away in the cold that's already nipping the end of autumn. Then up the first kip - which must be a fifty five degree angle - peching away. At the top we'll pause before going down the dip and up the side of East Kip; then another pause up here. Over to the north west we can see the Ochills, lovely hills too, as beautiful as the Pentlands, but on the wrong side of the Forth. Then down the other side of East Kip - where I fell one Hogmanay on the ice and cracked my elbow - and up to the top of Scald Law, at 2000 feet the highest hill in the Pentlands. Scald Law commands a great view of distant Edinburgh, Stevenson's precipitous city; my city too, these many years.
That'll be the place to do it. I warned my three children that there's always a wind up here, so they'll have to be careful where they stand when they take me out of the rucksack and open the box to let my ashes blow away into the heather. And if they want a snatch of Stevenson to say into the wind that's taking me away, there's always this...
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
'Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill'.
Where is your favourite place in Scotland? What makes it special to you?
Scottish Book Trust and BBC Radio Scotland invite you to write about your favourite place in Scotland, whether it's a remote beauty spot or an urban hideaway, a famous landmark or a favourite café. We want to get Scotland writing, inspired by our country's best-loved places.
Write a story, poem, song lyric, diary entry, letter or sketch about your favourite place,
submit it and your story could appear in a book or be broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland.
Check the website for stories, poems and songs by celebrities and listen to BBC Radio Scotland's Out of Doors programme to hear more.
To find out more, read others' pieces and write your own, go to The Scottish Book Trust - My Favourite Place. For full terms and conditions visit the BBC Radio Scotland website.