Edinburgh in a day
In early April I spent a day and a night in Edinburgh, a city that I love and that I've been to a few times before, but feel that I don't know nearly well enough. My husband is Scottish and grew up only an hour or so from Edinburgh, so we travel back to Scotland quite regularly, and now that my appetite for Edinburgh has been whetted I'm determined to get back there again before too long.
As it was, we had only a short time to explore the city, so I tried to pack in as much walking and photography as possible. To help me plan a walking route I downloaded the Pathport guide to Edinburgh by Marta Beres-Karpinska, which has some great spots in it. Some places I didn't have time to visit, or I'd been to before, so my route was really planned with an eye to avoiding the more obvious touristy places (I've been to Edinburgh castle and Arthur's Seat before, for example, so I didn't visit these again, as lovely as they are).
Instead, I took the train to Haymarket and started there, heading first to Stockbridge to visit Circus Lane. It's a small crescent much like a London mews street, but with a lovely curve and a perfectly placed church tower.
After wandering around Stockbridge and stopping for coffee and raspberry Swedish buns at the Soderberg bakery on Deanhaugh St, I made my way along the Water of Leith to Dean Village. Historically this was a centre of grain milling, but these days it feels like a peacful oasis only a few minutes from the city centre but with the feel of a rural village. The river runs through it and provides some beautiful views.
It's also where you'll find Well Court, which was built in the 1880s on the site of old tenements, which were cleared to make way for this new form of social housing for local workers. It's now a World Heritage site and has a wonderful communal courtyard where residents still hang their washing on sunny days!
Next up was a walk towards the Royal Mile via Cowgate and Grassmarket. I spent quite a lot of time exploring the many "closes" (narrow alleys) leading off the Royal Mile, which leads from Edinburgh Castle down to the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Scottish Parliament at the bottom. It's the centre of touristy Edinburgh so there are woollen mills and whiskey shops galore, but you really can't miss it. The closes themselves are very atmospheric and characterful - you really get a sense of history when you wander through some of them.
I made a quick stop at the National Museum of Scotland for some lunch at their brasserie (cullen skink and a smoked salmon sandwich, yum) and to check out the views from their rooftop garden.
And our final destination was Leith: this is a part of Edinburgh I'd never visited and I wish I could have spent longer there. It's what used to be the docks, and it's still a busy port today, although mostly leisure craft these days rather than the shipbuilding of days gone by. It's undergone a regeneration in recent years and is home to a number of cafes, bars and restaurants. We had a wonderful meal at Martin Wishart as well as trying a few of the bars. Not a bad end to our day!