Colinton Tunnel

Colinton Tunnel is a railway tunnel which gently curves around Colinton Dell in SW Edinburgh. It was opened in 1874 by the Caledonian Railway on the route of a single-track branch line that connected Slateford with Balerno, serving mills along the Water of Leith. The line promoted the development of Balerno, Currie and Juniper Green as commuter settlements and also proved popular with Edinburgh residents wishing to walk in the countryside at weekends. Lying between Colinton Dell and Hailes, the tunnel has horseshoe-shaped ashlar portals to the north and south, and is 140m (459 feet) in length.

The line closed on the 4th December 1967 and the tunnel was sealed. It was restored, lit and re-opened in 1980 by Edinburgh District Council on the route of the Water of Leith Walkway. Having deteriorated again, a local group raised funds to refurbish it once more. Edinburgh-based artist Chris Rutterford was invited to lead a community-based project which recruited volunteers, including local school pupils, to decorate the walls with a remarkable mural inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's poem From a Railway Carriage:

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle,
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.

Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And there is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart run away in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone for ever!

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