Edinburgh's Gem, Victoria Street.

Victoria Street, Edinburgh’s gem.

Blog 18 December 2020

https://youtu.be/BbzUOPlt8GE This is a link to our recent YouTube video on Edinburgh at Christmas

I never tire of walking around the Old Town of Edinburgh. Our tours of Edinburgh cover all aspects of the city including history, architecture and local flavours and fascinating tales. We always get out and walk in the Old Town of Edinburgh including a wander on the charming Victoria Street and West Bow.

In any season, whether it is a sunny day, or even a damp misty day, the atmosphere of the place is so special. There is history everywhere in Edinburgh’s Old Town, on every street, down every close and on every corner, there is a tale to be told. There is country defining history in the city, there is Royal history here too, as well as bloody and gory history. There are many fascinating local tales, and those are the ones I do love. The stories of William Deacon Brodie, the talented cabinetmaker and housebreaker. Burke and Hare, who sold their victims to lecturer Robert Knox for dissection at his anatomy classes. The covenanter’s prison, and the awful fate of its unlucky residents in Greyfriars Kirk, is another of the many fascinating stories of Edinburgh’s Old Town.

The old city is a fun place to wander! Steps, some steep are everywhere, hilly streets, closes, up, down, across, cut throughs, cobblestones, squares and more steps, it is almost playful just to get to your favourite pub, restaurant shop or indeed, your flat!

Of all the beautiful streets in Edinburgh’s Old Town, Victoria Street and West Bow is up there with the best, and believe me, the bar is set extremely high here! It has everything you would expect of an old medieval street. It has shops placed into old arches, it is cobblestoned, high tenement flats tower over you (to be fair this is uniquely Edinburgh), it is colourful, it is on a hill, it has a most beautifully elegant curve (something more akin to Georgian elegance), and it has on old stone well at the bottom dating to 1674! And, as if to make viewing of this slice of beauty a most important feature, there is a handy terrace running along the top of it. Making the viewing of this street, Instagram perfect!

Originally called Bow Street, it was once a narrow z-shaped street housing some of the oldest tenement buildings in Edinburgh. The buildings were made even higher with the addition of protruding timber framed houses stuck on the top. As such, the distance between the top floors on either side was so little that neighbours could reach out the windows to shake hands, or chat, over a cup of tea! The street had an incredibly steep incline and was awkward to negotiate but this was the only route to the Royal Mile and Lawnmarket, from the west. The street was radically transformed between 1829 – 1834. The old tenement buildings with their crumbling timber additions were eventually demolished to make way for the gently curved street we see today, linking the Grassmarket to George IV bridge and The Royal Mile and Lawnmarket. A small flight of stairs was built into the north side of the new street, preserving the ancient route to the Royal Mile from the Grassmarket. The street was re-named Victoria Street in 1837 to honour the new monarch, Queen Victoria. However, the bottom of the street from the Bow Bar is still called West Bow.

The Bow Bar www.thebowbar.co.uk is one of our favourite bars in the Old Town. It has a wonderful collection of Malt Whisky and Ales, as well as every other drink you can imagine. It is a local’s kind of place and has a nice convivial atmosphere.

A wander up, or down Victoria Street should be on your ‘must see’ sights when in Edinburgh. Coincide this visit over lunch time and you can enjoy a fresh pulled pork sandwich (possibly the best you will ever try) at Oink www.oinkhogroast.co.uk

Situated on the West Bow is the totally unique shop and tour company, The Cadies and Wichery Tours. They have an amazing collection of Goulish gifts and are one of the oldest walking tour companies in Edinburgh. It is worth going in here, you may be tempted by their amazing collection and you can also book a night time supernatural walking tour! www.witcherytours.com

Another two excellent shops on the food and drink scene in Edinburgh are on Victoria Street - I.J Mellis Scottish Cheese shop www.mellischeese.net and The Whisky Shop www.whiskyshop.com both shops offer unique and quality Scottish products and, I think they go well together!

Shopping on the street is a fantastic experience, where locally owned businesses provide a wide range of quality goods and gifts. The much-loved Harris Tweed and Scottish woollens are on offer at Walker Slater www.walkerslater.com  We also love Edinburgh Natural Skin Care www.edinburghskincare.com what a beautiful shop this is. There are many other locally owned and Scottish shops on Victoria Street and West Bow, yep, something for everyone! And here are three restaurants we love.    

Howies www.howies.uk.com/venues/howies-victoria-street/

The Grain Store is another favourite of ours www.grainstore-restaurant.co.uk

Maison Bleue www.maisonbleuerestaurant.com/maison-bleue-victoria-street/

We hope you enjoy your visit to Victoria Street and West Bow when you have the chance to visit Edinburgh. It is a real gem set right in the heart of the Old Town and a place your camera will love!