Jacob's Ladder

“Under the rail bridge,” Calder whispered. “Jacob’s Ladder.”

 

“Full marks. We’ll make a Raven of you yet. Let’s go.”

 

They ran stealthily up the road, away from the hidden Titan and under a piss-smelling bridge. Beyond was a steep flight of steps disappearing up into the night. They squatted at the bottom, checking for any movement above. None. Thurmond bounded upwards and Calder followed, taking two steps at a time. The climb seemed endless, but finally they reached the broad swathe of Regent Road. It was bright with streetlights and they hunched in the shadow of the top step, letting their breathing slow. A taxi drove by, followed by two cars. 

 

“There.” Calder had caught movement in the trees beyond. Only a shudder, but enough to tell her they were on the slopes of Calton Hill. “They’re going up.”

'The stairway to heaven': This was the name given to this 140-step pathway carved into the volcanic rock in the 18th century because it climbed to the Old Calton Burial Ground.  

First recorded on a map in 1784, it is probably a lot older than this. It would have been used as a short cut between the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, but became much less frequented after the construction of Regent Bridge. Today, despite recent attempts to clean up the graffiti and get rid of the invasive weeds, Jacob's Ladder is still a remote and forbidding climb after dark. A strange, forgotten place, suspended above the city's bustle. If you are there alone in the hours after midnight, you will need nerves of steel.