Day 3. Visiting the National Mining Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

The rain clouds of the previous day seemed to have vanished but had been replaced by a strong wind so we wrapped up warm and after coming to life with bacon sandwiches and coffee, we wandered along Princes Street to visit Jenners. This famous department store has been part and parcel of Edinburgh’s history since 1838 when it opened to supply fine silks to the people of Edinburgh who previously had to travel to London for these luxury items. By 1890 the store had become so popular that it expanded into adjoining buildings making it one of Scotland’s biggest and most loved stores.

Jenners Department Store, Edinburgh

The building features a galleried hall where a gorgeous Christmas tree takes pride of place each year. It looked even more beautiful than ever this year but sadly it may not be there much longer as plans are afoot to turn the historic building into a hotel with luxury shops. It is believed that Jenners will move into a new development but however nice the new store may be, it will surely never be the same. The wonderful building contributed so much to the shopping experience with its antiquated polished wooden lifts, narrow winding staircases and higgledy-piggledy layout.

The famous Jenners Christmas Tree

Feeling nostalgic, we crossed busy Princes Street by the Scott Monument and made our way down the escalators to Edinburgh Waverley Station which was much quieter than when we arrived on Sunday lunchtime.

Waverley Station, Edinburgh

We bought two off-peak day return tickets to Newtongrange (£5.60 each adult ticket) and found the platform for the ScotRail service to Tweedbank which would take us there. The journey took just 20 minutes and from the small station, nine miles south of Edinburgh, we followed a footpath which weaved its way up the hillside to the National Mining Museum of Scotland.

National Mining Museum of Scotland

The museum is housed in the wonderfully restored Lady Victoria Colliery, the finest surviving Victorian colliery in Europe. Standard adult entrance to the museum is £9.50 which includes a one hour guided pithead tour and access to the large exhibition galleries.

Our tour guide at the National Mining Museum of Scotland

Our tour guide, David was a former miner at the colliery and had a natural ability to set the scene and vividly describe the atmosphere of what life was like down the pit and of the poor working conditions and dangers the miners had to cope with on each shift. He led us through dark tunnels, explaining how coal was extracted and ways in which coal mining technology have developed over the centuries, pointing to the carts that transported it to the surface.

Carts filled with coal ready to be transported to the surface

Our guided tour ended in the Winding Engine Room where we inspected the Lady Victoria winding engine, the largest and most powerful steam winding engine in Scotland. There was even an opportunity to sit in the operator’s chair and drive the mechanism.

The Lady Victoria Winding Engine

Following our guided tour we viewed the very interesting museum. The first gallery, The Story of Coal takes visitors a step back in time to coal’s creation in the Carboniferous Period 360 million years ago viewing displays of human efforts to extract coal up to recent times. The second gallery, A Race Apart provides glimpses of what life was like for Scottish mining communities and how they relied on the collieries for their livelihoods. Visiting the museum was an absolute treat and if you share my interest in the industrial revolution and social history then this is a superb place to visit.

The National Mining Museum of Scotland

We returned to the station and took the train back as far as Brunstane as breaks of journey are allowed with standard tickets. It was then a 15 minute walk to the seaside suburb of Portobello where we enjoyed a stroll along its high street which had a splendid new bookstore and an inviting pub, The Forrester’s Guild at its far end.

The Forrester’s Guild, Portobello

We then looped back to the station along the seafront taking in the views across to the Firth of Forth. There were quite a few people about considering it was a chilly December day and our walk along the promenade in the bracing conditions helped to blow away the cobwebs. As well as taking the train to Brunstane it’s easy to get to Portobello by bus (15 or 26) from Princes Street, avoiding the long walk from the station.

Portobello beach, Edinburgh

It was late afternoon by the time we arrived back in Edinburgh and as it was just starting to go dark we had a wander through Multrees Walk just off St. Andrew Square popping into both Harvey Nichols and John Lewis for some festive gift inspiration and a welcome cup of coffee.

Multrees Walk, Edinburgh

As we’d spent a large part of the day on our feet we had dinner close to our hotel and opted for some traditional Scottish fare. Relaxing with a few drinks we reflected on the lovely day we’d just spent in one of our favourite cities.

Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh late afternoon

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Other posts in this series:

A Christmas break in Edinburgh

Similar posts:

Going underground at the National Coal Mining Museum

Exploring the Black Country Living Museum


34 thoughts on “Day 3. Visiting the National Mining Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

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  11. jasonlikestotravel

    Such a shame they’re converting that department store. I suppose it’ll be quite a nice place to stay though, albeit out of most people’s price range 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve lived in Edinburgh for three years yet never even heard of the National Mining Museum. As I plan to go back again this year, it’s something I should put on my to-do list. P.S. Your Edinburgh posts are amazing and I can’t wait to hear and read more! Thanks for sharing and have a good day 😀 Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Lives of miners in the last century were dismal. They were pawns in the quest for money by the privileged few who owned the mines. Fortunately in today’s world there is more human consideration displayed due to public pressure on governments. I’m glad those memories are preserved in museums like this so we never forget human life is precious.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. As a regular Jenners shopper back in he day I could never find my way from one department to the next without a fight! It’s a lovely place, nonetheless, even if it took years for them to be persuaded to cancel my account after I left Edinburgh!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. What a big tree, bet it’s beautiful to see in person.
    I was in Wales this past November, while there my 7 yr old grandson and I visited the Big Pit Museum…entrance is free. It was interesting to see the conditions my dad worked in when he was a miner.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Christmas tree in Jenners is always beautiful to see and gets visitors into the festive spirit. The Scottish Mining Museum was very interesting and as I’ve already visited the English one in Wakefield I’d like to add the Big Pit Museum in Wales to my list as well. Thanks for taking an interest in my Edinburgh posts. Happy New Year!


    1. Exactly, Edinburgh has something for everyone and although I’ve visited the city many times, I’d never been to the Mining Museum before but I recommend a visit. Very easy to access by public transport too! Thanks for your welcome thoughts Jonno.


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