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Wells o' Wearie

Holyrood Park

Wells o' Wearie Cottage

Wells o' Wearie Cottang, near Duddingston Loch, Holyrood Park

©  Reproduced with acknowledgement to David Taylor whose granny was born in this cottage


Wells o' Wearie

Near Duddingston Loch

Thank you to David Taylor for sending me this photo of Wells o' Wearie Cottage in Holyrood Park, near Duddingston Loch.

David wrote:

"This is the only photo I've ever seen of what the family called the Wells o' Wearie Cottage where my granny was born in 1863. 

This is not the cottage that is still around near the entrance of the tunnel and now goes under that name.

The cottage you see in the photo above is a good 100 yards along the line, virtually by the loch side.  It no longer stands there;  the entire area is now completely overgrown by the trees.

David Taylor:  October 27, 2010

The Innocent Railway

The tunnel that David refers to was on the 'Innocent Railway''.  This was Edinburgh's first railway line.

This was a horse-drawn railway.  Initially, it ran between South Esk and St Loenard's, Edinburgh, carrying coal from the Lothians into Edinburgh.

The northern section of the line passed through Holyrood Park as it approached St Leonards and included a 572 yard tunnel lit by gas lamps, with a gradient of 1 in 30, worked by a stationary steam winding engine.

[Source:  Wikipedia:  Edinburgh & Dalkeith Railway]

Wells o' Wearie

Grant's 'Old & New Edinburgh' (published 1890) gives this brief account of the Wells o' Wearie:

"In 1828, the operations connected with the railway tunnel, under the brow of the columnar mass of basalt known as Samson's Ribs, commenced, and near the springs so well known in tradition as the Wells of Wearie.   ...

The 'Wells' are the theme of more than one Scottish song, and  a very sweet one runs thus :-

And ye maun gang wi' me, my winsom Mary Grieve;

There is nought in the world to fear ye;

For I have asked your minnie, and she has gi'en ye leave,

To gang to the Wells o' Wearie.

Oh, the sun winna blink in your bonnie blue een,

Nor tinge your white brow, my dearie;

For I will shade a bower wi' rashes lang and green,

By the lanesome  Wells o' Wearie."

[Source:  Grant's Old & New Edinburgh:  Vol 2, p.312.]

Here is the start of anothe song.  This one uses more up to date language:

Bonnie Wells o' Wearie'

Come let us climb auld Arthur Seat.

When summer flow'rs are blooming

When golden bloom and heather bells

Are a' the air perfuming

When sweet May gowans deck the braes

The hours flee past fu' cheerie

Where bonnie lassies bleach their claes

Beside the Wells o' Wearie!


The bonnie Wells o' Wearie!

The bonnie Wells o' Wearie!

Come let us spend a summer day

Beside the Wells o' Wearie

[Source: This is one of a collection of Scottish songs on the RampantScotland web site]



Bryan Gourlay

Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Thank you to Bryan Gourlay who wrote:

The Photograph

"As a kid, I was well acquainted with the existing cottage near the entrance to the tunnel that David Taylor mentions – often retrieving my golf ball following a hook off the third tee at Prestonfield Golf Course.

I wasn’t aware of the other cottage nearer to Duddingston Loch, which appears in the 1876 OS map

Wells o' Wearie Cottang, near Duddingston Loch, Holyrood Park ©

The bunkers of Prestonfield’s fourth hole can be a seen beyond the cottage in David’s photo – which means that the cottage wasn’t knocked down until some time after 1926 when the Prestonfield course first opened.

Bryan Gourlay, Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland




John Crae

Leith, Edinburgh

John Crae found this old photograph of the cottage at Wells O' Wearie  on the Edinphoto web site,

Wells o' Wearie Cottang, near Duddingston Loch, Holyrood Park ©

then sending me these two photos showing what remains of the cottage now.

Surfaceman's Cottage on the Innocent Railway at Holyrood Park, Edinburgh ©        Surfaceman's Cottage on the Innocent Railway at Holyrood Park, Edinburgh ©

The first of these shows all that the cottage as found in 2004 in need of some restoration work.  The second photo was taken in 2008, after the restoration work had been completed.

Please click on either of these thumbnail images to enlarge them and and read John Crae's comments about them.

With acknowledgement to John Crae, Leith, Edinburgh:  November 16+19, 2012


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