Sunday, 22 July 2007

287 steps

The Scott Monument. What is there to say about it? Tall, gothic, tall, intricately carved out of sandstone from West Lothian, tall, completed in 1844, tall, cost about £16 000 to build and a few million more to restore, and… oh, yes, it’s tall… 61.1m tall, to be exact. No lift, just 287 steps right to the top… 287 steps up a tiny narrow spiral staircase to a tiny narrow platform, from which it’s a long way down. It’s what you would call a dizzy height. At least, that’s what Mags would call it. Alien Wally was fine, dancing all round the parapets to bring you the amazing pictures below, but Mags, she was not so fine, clinging to the walls in case a gust of wind blew her over the edge through the very large gaps in the railings. As you may have gathered, Mags is afraid of heights. She’s fine if there’s a rope attached to her – then she’s been known to climb up mountains and fling herself off bridges. But without a rope, she’s incapable of getting past the third rung of a step-ladder before she turns into a quivering shadow of her former self and Alien Wally has to come and rescue her. Mags has a lot of faith in ropes. She knows deep down that they’re not infallible, but she likes to cling to her illusions when she’s dangling out in space.

That said, Mags did manage to make it to the edge to look at the spectacular bird’s eye view of Edinburgh. And here, courtesy of Alien Wally, is what she saw…

No, starfish man lying on the grass wasn't a jumper. This is what people do in Princes Street Gardens on a hot summer's day....

Lifting one's gaze from starfish man produces this vista looking west along Princes Street. The castle is up on the left brooding over the city, and the classical buildings in the foreground are the National Gallery.

From the other side of the platform, looking east, one can see the Balmoral Hotel in the foreground, with Calton Hill's unfinished parthenon and the Firth of Forth behind it. Holyrood Park and the hills leading to Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat are on the right.

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