Christian Path, Portobello

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This surely must fit the bill for unregarded! Christian Path is a small obscure pathway, now part of the Edinburgh cycleway that runs in a wobbly line from Brighton Place at the side of the railway bridge through to Windsor Place.

Nowadays it is called Christian Path, though it seems to have been universally known as Jobby Lane by generations of Portobello children. Named, so it is said, because Major Sir Hugh Henry Christian JP, and twice Provost of Portobello back in the 1880’s had needed a path made to offer himself a short cut to the station.

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But just walking down this path feels older, much much older. A vast ancient plum tree adorns the banking and must be a delight in spring and summer. Rich dank vegetation clambers up the steep embankment as the path eases its way round the backs of houses, twisting its way west.

Certainly Sir Hugh did upgrade the path in 1886, and he put in a subway entrance to the station, still visible but now bricked up, but he did not make the path itself. Some have seen the path in boundary maps of the 1850’s where it was being used as a short cut from the railway to Sandford Street (nowadays called Sandford Gardens) and others claim it was the boundary of a chapel of ease as far back as 1818.

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However it is even more venerable than that. Christian Path – or whatever it was known as before the Major’s day, was a medieval track along a sluggish slow burn (leche) that marked a boundary of the lands called Figgate. Figgate itself is thought to be a Norse term for a cow pasture which if right might take our little path back a thousand years or more.

Unregarded certainly, worth a detour- definitely!

Copyright David Macadam 2015

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