Edinburgh Old Town Part 1

Now that you have been looking around our website you can see that we love travel and, when we are not travelling, the thing we like most is writing about travelling!

The theme running through our Blog, like our tours, is Local Flavours. We love natural beauty and history but we just can’t resist telling you about our favourite places! Enjoy.

We are starting this blog on the first day of lockdown in Edinburgh, 24th March 2020, due to the Covid-19 virus. As well as home schooling our two children we are here to provide optimism and some great ideas for your future travels to our destinations.

EDINBURGH, Part 1 – Cross-roads at The Royal Mile.

There is a cross-roads at this part of Edinburgh’s old town, it is where the Royal Mile splits at Bank Street and George IV Bridge, get your bearings of the city centre here and you’ve cracked it! Yes, it really is that simple. It is difficult to get lost in the city centre, let me explain… There are two main streets in Edinburgh city Centre – Princes Street in the New Town and above it slightly to the south The Royal Mile in the Old Town (they run parallel, East – West). Walk up the Mound (A man made hill beside the National Galleries of Scotland) from Princes Street and you are on to Bank Street, The Royal Mile cuts across you and if you continue over, you are on George IV Bridge which leads you to the National Museum of Scotland and Greyfriars Kirk, recently made famous by JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series of books. All within 20 minutes walking distance of each other.

Now, lets get back to our cross-roads and look at the four corners so to give you some landmarks. On the south west corner is the very hip and cool 5-star hotel, The Radisson Collection. Part of this building has one of the best seafood restaurants in the city, Ondine www.ondinerestaurant.co.uk and we love this place. Edinburgh people also like this building as it replaced a rather ugly 1960s Government building, thank you! Our next corner, south east, has the French Institute (possibly a future French Embassy in an Independent Scotland?). This building is a cultural centre promoting all things – well, French! The Scot’s have long felt a kinship with the French and we share many past alliances. Our 3rd corner, north east, has the David Hume statue (Scottish Philosopher 1711 – 1776) toe rubbing of this statue has become quite the tourist phenomenon! Standing behind Mr Hume is the High Court (1672). Our 4th corner, north west, houses the Deacon Brodie pub. We like a drink in this establishment, it has a very convivial atmosphere. You can learn all about Deacon Brodie on one of our tours of Edinburgh.

The upper half of the Royal Mile has two of the four named streets which make up The Royal Mile, Lawnmarket and Castle Hill. The other two are High Street and Canongate, which we will cover in future blog posts. Lawnmarket, used to be called Land Market, as the name comes from a 1477 charter designating this part of ‘the mile’ as a marketplace for inland merchandise such as wool, cloth and later, linen. One of the best visitor experiences on the Royal Mile is right here on Lawnmarket – Gladstones Land www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/gladstones-land this is one of the oldest buildings in Edinburgh and is well worth a visit to experience old town living. There are many tourist shops on the Lawnmarket, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to picking up the odd souvenir however, if you are looking for some real quality goods in this part of town do pop in to Kiltane for some excellent Scottish woollen and cashmere products.

Another historic feature of the Lawnmarket (and the whole of the Royal Mile) are the Closes. Closes, Courts and Wynds are small narrow streets which lead to other streets, and courtyards. They are so charming, historic and downright wonderful to explore and you must do this! Three of our favourites here are, Lady Stair’s Close which leads to Lady Stair’s house built in 1622 and today houses the Writer’s Museum. Fishers Close, is narrow and leads on to Victoria Terrace for wonderful views of Victoria Street and the West Bow. Here you can pop in to Scotts Kitchen, www.scottskitchen.co.uk for great coffee, homemade scones, lunch and more, we love it! Riddles Court, built in the 1590s, it is a Category-A listed merchant house, which has been recently restored. A simple wander off the Royal Mile and you find a little piece of tranquillity away from the bustle. An early form of town planning we would say and surely a place for the wealthier residents!