I popped into Spylaw Park today, braving the rain and wind, to ckeck a few things in advance of a guided walk along the Water of Leith I'm giving later in the week. I'm covering the walk for another tutor so wanted to make sure I knew what all his notes referred to. I was intrigued by his reference to a tree full of trainers in the park, so went along to investigate. I can't beleive I've never noticed this tree before (though obviously it's more obvious at this time of year than in summer when the branches will be covered in leaves!):
There's an old Celtic tradition of hanging clothing in trees near holy wells. Pieces of cloth (clooties) are dipped in the well water and then tied to a branch of the clootie tree while praying to the spirit of the well - these days usually a saint but originally it would have been a nature spirit or a goddess.
This is done either to seek healing or to honour the saint or spirit of the well.
This tree though, as far as I know is nowhere near a sacred well and is likely more influenced by the modern American tradition of shoe toassing and shoe trees.
But it will certainly be a talking point on the guided walk. (And I hope the weather improves for the walk too!)