St Andrew's House Station (1/51*)
Having the choice to walk or bike on a whim has flipped a massively positive switch in my head.
When I announced the idea of visiting every Just Eat Cycle Hire Station, I said: "I’m going to photograph them, write about them, and share with you my experience exploring each location along the way." I've debated over the past fortnight what precisely I want these posts to cover. I toyed with changing the idea, having more of a touristy vibe, outlining the amenities and attractions around each station. While that type of content could be useful for some readers, it doesn't excite me. Being excited about what I'm writing is important to me; otherwise, my heart just won't be in it, and this blog will peter out pretty fast. I'm going to stick with the original idea, this series will be of my experience and discoveries at each of the stations I visit. Let's jump in, shall we?
The Station Location
St Andrew's House Station is situated East of the Scottish Government building known as St Andrew's House, just South of Calton Hill. Said building is large and oppressive, looking like it's been transported straight out of Gotham City or the original Blade Runner. It's a proper moody building, I love it. I've probably used this station the most for adapting my walk to work with cycling. Being just over the hill It's a conveniently located station, it allows me to cut out cycling over Abbey Mount or up Leith Street to get into town. With the main hill out the way, I can hop on a bike at St Andrew's House and gently glide West along the A1 to join Princes Street. In 10 minutes I can be entering the office and feeling energised to start my day. The cycle hire scheme really does make for easy traversing of Edinburgh.
I've grown fond of the area around this station. Calton Hill, early in the morning, is a tranquil place. Excluding the occasional dog walker or runner, it's deserted before 08:00 AM. Up there you can escape from the busy roads, the traffic, and feel pretty isolated. It has 360° views of Edinburgh, and on a clear day, you can see right across to the great Kingdom of Fife. Even with feet firmly on the ground, you can feel like you're soaring above the city below, everyone else looks like ants, and the height gives a fantastic perspective. It's quiet too, the traffic is far enough away that it sounds muted and is drowned out by the many birds that are trying to catch the worm. I was lucky enough, or perhaps sufficiently patient, to capture two birds in the same spot one morning. I watched the robin (pictured below) darting about among the bushes on a slope just off one of the paths on Calton Hill for a while. The little bird acknowledged me and me it. For a brief moment, I felt we understood each other sharing an appreciation for the mild morning.
The Road Less Travelled
Since I started my active travel journey, I've grown fond of taking the road less travelled. This fondness has enabled me to discover places I never knew existed with the added benefit of putting some distance between myself and cars. Car traffic has a frustrating effect over me, I get angry when I'm around vehicles. Even when they are parked, they get my back up (I've got a future photo series Idea where I take photos of popular Edinburgh streets and photoshop all the cars out of them) and I'd like to avoid them if I can. Since the introduction of the cycle hire scheme and the St Andrew's House station, I've discovered 2 paths I'd never before taken. Both of them bring you out onto Calton Road, a quiet back street that leads to Waverly, Holyrood, and the Royal Mile. They're steep, unusual, and seem to be relatively unknown by most Edinburgh residents forcing them to tackle the hectic crossroads where Princes Street meets Leith Street, or the A1 meets Easter Road.
The discovery of these paths wouldn't have happened if I wasn't adopting an active travel lifestyle. I wouldn't have discovered the neon skeleton (that has been there for years!) or enjoyed the rhythmic war drum beat of the 07:18 North Berwick-Edinburgh train passing overhead. I wouldn't have found my love of cycling again if it weren't for the St Andrew's House hire point either. Being able to glide along Princes Street by bike is terrific. Being able to cut down a path and come up a close on the Royal Mile has filled me with a sense of adventure I've not had since I was a boy. This cycle hire scheme is excellent for a multitude of reasons, but the top reason for me is the control it has provided me over the way I get around. Having the choice to walk or bike on a whim has flipped a massively positive switch in my head.
I'm glad I started this series with this station, it has done a lot for me.
In a fortnight I'll be covering the cycle hire station at Castle Terrace, and next week I'll be counting beans and comparing the cost of active travel options vs fossil fuel travel.
Thanks for reading.
* Just Eat have added ~10 new stations since I came up with this idea, I imagine this series could go on a lot longer than I originally planned, which is awesome.