Having spent too long with at the Glentress Forest Pond Trail, I pound down the muddy track to the main road. I am passed by mountain bikes racing into the depths of the woods, and then, as I come out back into traffic, the bus that is supposed to be taking me north to Edinburgh.
My next stop is Yellowcraig, in Lothian, and things are not looking great to make my connection in the capital. After the Bowhill walk, I am not confident, but I stick out my thumb. Within minutes, a van stops.
‘Just into Peebles, please.’
‘What are you doing there?’
‘Catching a bus to Edinburgh.’ I explain about the Giants in the Forest.’
‘I’m running a bit late, but I can take you to Edinburgh.’
I notice the driver has a couple of novels on the floor, although the cab is covered in a light grey dust. This looks promising.
My driver trained as an architect, but now specialises in specially treated concrete. He has travelled around Europe, refining his craft – he lives further south in the Borders, although he mostly works in Edinburgh New Town.
‘I’m pretty much set there,’ he laughs. ‘But living out here, you are only five minutes away from loads of beautiful walks. The Borders is really underrated.’
He talks a little about how building in Scotland, beyond the cities, lacks a sense of appropriate design. I tell him my only story about town planning – passed onto me by a taxi driver, it concerns the plans to build a motorway through Glasgow city centre. Apparently, when they created models to predict the impact on the city, they drew a blank.
‘They did it to find out what would happen. Let’s just say, they never did it again. That might be the best way to understand the conclusion.’
In less than forty minutes, we reach the outskirts of Morningside. The road is straightforward, on all sides surrounded by beautiful hills and fields. The sun isn’t uncomfortable, just warm. I point out a few examples of this thesis, houses clustered along the road that stick out rudely. This route is mostly fortunately, with old farm complexes doubling as homes and urban sprawl largely absent.
I thank him and race across town, in time for the bus to Yellowcraig, It’s an old, bumpy bus, crawling through Musselborough and finally back out into the countryside. When I am dropped off at the newsagents by the road in Dirleton, the sun has become serious about getting me to take off the suit jacket. The half hour walk to the woods circles around cultivated fields, bending and bowing in the wind. The breeze cools me, although I promising myself that next week, I am wearing shorts….