I met up with a friend, Lenny, for coffee, who lives on Hawthornbank Lane in Dean Village. He brought me to a local café, which was tiny but had a good variety of sandwiches and cakes, teas and coffees, all fresh and home made. They class themselves as a breakfast, brunch, deli-cum-sandwich shop. It was only two minutes walk up the steep hill from Hawthornbank Lane. Café Braw opened its doors in the last couple of months only – April 2012.
We had tea there and chatted for about an hour. I asked Lenny where was the best place to start the walk and he said I could start at Dean Village and walk out to Stockbridge. My friend Judy, who used to live in Stockbridge, loved this area and used to wander down this part of the Water of Leith Walk all the time.
So I started off at the bridge in Dean Village. With the sound of the roaring river on the left hand side, you walk under Dean Bridge and carry on under a leafy pathway, towards St. Bernard’s Well. The estate in which the well is found, was originally known as St. Bernards. The first thing you see is a domed temple, supported by ten pillars, with the figure of Hygeia, the Greek goddess of health in the centre.
It was believed by some people in the 18th century, that the mineral spring which trickled into the river, had medicinal qualities and a well house has existed here since 1760. In 1789, the owner Lord Gladstone, was convinced that the waters eased his rheumatism and commissioned Alexander Nasmyth to build a new pump room on the site. The interior of the pump room below apparently has a domed ceiling with an ornate mosaic ceiling and a gilded sun face. I didn’t get the chance to see inside as the pump room is only open on certain days of the year, during Doors Open Days, run by The Cockburn Association (Edinburgh Civic Trust). It’s a beautiful temple and an unusual site to come across on a walk.