The proposal to remove Dowie’s Mill Weir has been our main focus recently and a brief résumé is presented first here. However, it’s not only been about Dowie’s Mill – a lot of other useful work has taken place and the rest of this FRAW News is dedicated to this. Much of what we set out to accomplish takes a long time to come to fruition and it has been very encouraging that in recent months good progress has been made in several areas – even some completions!
Dowies Mill Weir – Quick Update
We encouraged our members earlier this year to view and respond to the exhibition and ‘consultation’ on the proposals for the weir at Dowie’s Mill. We now wait to hear the response from the Council to the many comments and suggestions that were made. We know that over 170 were submitted and we are most grateful to everyone concerned. We hope that these will be taken into account and FRAW will continue to monitor the process. Our position remains that ‘no action should be taken until the alternative of retaining the existing weir is properly evaluated – an alternative that avoids the difficulties and dangers of the proposed option, enables fish passage and which should be cheaper‘.
Community Woodland & Path Improvement
At the end of 2018, we were delighted to have installed an additional set of steps, to give better access to our Community Woodland. These were built almost single-handedly, by George Bee, using materials provided by the Council and others purchased using our own funds. They make it easier to head up to the Woodland to enjoy a peaceful walk through the trees, and then go back down to the Walkway, rather than have to retrace your steps.
Also in that area, we have been working on improving the drainage around the foot of Peggy’s Mill Road and at the turning area at Dowie’s Mill. This has been made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Almond Neighbourhood Partnership, who are great supporters of local projects and augmented by CEC Natural Heritage Service and some of our own funds. Our funding bid to the Neighbourhood Partnership was greatly helped by the strong support of the Community Council.
The surface of the pathway has been raised and a drainage pipe installed, so we hope that the mud bath that existed whenever it rained will not reoccur and we are considering ways to improve the area around the seat in the future.
We had to be very careful working in this area to avoid disturbing the remains of the historic Peggy’s Mill structure which is located below the surface of the Walkway and followed the guidance of the City Archaeologist to ensure no damage was done.
Cramond Primary P7
Last year, we worked with Cramond Primary P7s to create a colourful wildflower garden. This was enjoyed by the children and greatly admired by everyone who uses the Walkway. We started work again in the autumn and this will resume when the better weather arrives.
We’ve also made major progress with a project we’ve been working on since FRAW first started – which is now nearing completion. Back in 2012, there was no information along the Walkway about the route, its plants and trees, or the fascinating industrial heritage. Since then, we have been working to provide information at various points along the way. The entrances at the Boat Club, School Brae and Dowie’s Mill all have orientation boards with maps of the route and space for occasional, temporary notices to be displayed. The Community Woodland has a wonderful information board that sets out the layout and shows all the different species of native trees and how to identify them.
In 2018, we worked alongside the Cramond Association, Cramond and Barnton Community Council and the Cramond Heritage Trust to create the Cramond Heritage Trail, which included an interpretation board at Fair-a-Far Mill setting out the industrial heritage and history of the mills along the river.
Our most recent addition is a new, informative interpretation board at the foot of Peggy’s Mill Road which shows details of some of the plants that can be seen along the walkway throughout the year.
We have also planned the installation of a small but stylish plaque on the historic Cramond Brig giving key dates in the history of the bridges at Cramond. This is financed and ready to go but requires Listed Structure consent and approval from all owners in the immediate area which is time consuming.
We hope these all add to the enjoyment of all visitors to the Walkway.
As well as building on the knowledge of members of FRAW and experts from other local groups, the boards have been made possible thanks to generous funding from Edinburgh Airport Community Grants Fund, Historic Environment Scotland, the Almond Neighbourhood Partnership and City of Edinburgh Council Parks, Greenspaces and Cemeteries, as well as the generous support of all our members through their subscriptions and the many generous donations (and Gift Aid). Thank you everyone!
We’ve also been continuing our work to get a fully accessible replacement for the Salvesen Steps installed. Sustrans have been very supportive of this project and have worked alongside Edinburgh Council to get the various surveys carried out and, most recently, some of the vegetation along the line of the proposed walkway was cleared to enable a LiDAR survey to be carried out. LiDAR is a remote sensing technology that uses a laser to create a 3D map of the cliff face along the line that the new walkway will run – vital in deciding where the supporting brackets are located.
This clearance has now been completed as it had to be done before the nesting season was fully underway to minimise any disruption to birds and wildlife and a check for any signs of otter or bats had been carried out before the work started.
It’s encouraging that we’re finally beginning to see some real progress with this long running project.
Recent Work Parties
Apart from maintaining areas already cleared, a new project has been to clear the area just up from the car park at School Brae. A geologically interesting length of rock, can now be seen; bluebells have been planted and more clearing up to and including the Steps undertaken.
A work party was held to start clearing and burning some of the brash that had been allowed to form a barrier in the Community Woodland. Other strimming work has also been carried out in the Community Woodland – we now have two brush-cutters to help productivity.
Finally & Most Important
It is renewal time for our memberships and you should all have received an email from our Treasurer and Membership Secretary, Euan Drysdale, inviting you to renew. If you haven’t received this, please email us. Also, if you are able to, please consider Gift Aiding your subscription and any donations you are generous enough to make. We have just submitted our Gift Aid application to HMRC and are looking forward to benefitting from £471.25 from HMRC.
This means that, in the last three years, our funds have been boosted by almost £1200. Thank you everyone for your support.
We look forward to welcoming all our existing members, and many new members, to continue our work supporting the River Almond Walkwa