Zoo clashes with local group over 'Kidnapped' beauty spot


By Martin Graham

A BEAUTY spot immortalised in Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel ‘Kidnapped’ is the subject of a furious row between Edinburgh Zoo and a local conservation group.

The area on Corstorphine Hill is known as the Rest and Be Thankful was featured in the climactic final passages of the novel when the two main characters Alan Breck and David Balfour bid each other farewell as they survey the view of the city and the castle.

The literary landmark is part of a proposed land exchange deal between the Zoo and City of Edinburgh Council.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, which runs Edinburgh Zoo, claims that the original Rest and Be Thankful is further up the hill and they have offered to restore it in exchange for a chunk of land to the east of the zoo which includes the current site.

The Zoo claims the land grab is the only way they can proceed with vital modernisation plans.

But local campaign group the Friends of Corstorphine Hill insist that the land offered by the Zoo in exchange will not make up for the land lost, and that development has already started on another part of the hill.

Eddie Price is the chairman of the Friends of Corstorphine Hill.

Mr Price said: “The Rest and Be Thankful is just a smokescreen.

“The zoo wants to expand on the west side of the hill.

“They have already sold off land on the east side of the hill to a developer to build 80 homes which they say will make £50 million for the zoo.

“Now they want to build an animal hospital and a road on the other side of the hill where there is currently a nature reserve.

“There are badgers and buzzards living there, and deer have been spotted.

“It’s one of the most beautiful parts of the hill but the zoo just want to fence it in and then no-one will be able to enjoy it.

“They have offered a patch of land in between their fences as compensation, it’s overgrown with gorse.

“We have had ongoing battles with the zoo for years, they are always threatening that the zoo will have to move elsewhere.”

The Zoo’s chief executive David Windmill said: “We were interested to hear that the original Rest and Be Thankful was actually located near the top of the zoo.

“If it is possible to determine the site and if the site is on our land, we believe that it could be possible to recreate the original site and establish a viewing point once more.

“Obviously with the number of trees that have grown the viewing is more limited than it was when Robert Louis Stevenson described it.

“In order to overcome that, the society is more than happy to offer to design and create a revised walkway and viewing area that can give visitors to Corstorphine Hill the full glory of the original view, or more accurately, a slightly better view from a higher point.”