Day 1. Exploring Edinburgh

It had been more than a year since my last visit to Edinburgh and I couldn’t wait to return to one of my favourite cities.  We travelled north on board an LNER train which whisks passengers from London in just four and a quarter hours.  If you plan to travel by train try to book seats on the right hand side of the carriage so that you can enjoy the wonderful sea views as you head north.  We admired views of Berwick-upon-Tweed, the northernmost town in England from the train windows as we travelled north.

Berwick upon Tweed
Berwick upon Tweed as viewed from the train window

It was around 1.30 p.m. by the time we arrived into Edinburgh Waverley Station and as always I was in seventh heaven to be walking out onto Princes Street in beautiful sunshine to the sounds of bagpipes.

Scots piper outside Edinburgh Waverley Station
Scots piper outside Waverley Station

After popping into the Booking Office bar just outside the station for a quick snack we were ready for an afternoon walk re-acquainting ourselves with this fine city.  Our first stop was in Edinburgh’s new town which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Charlotte Square is located at the western end of George Street and Bute House overlooking the gardens is the official residence of the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon.

Bute House, Charlotte Square, Edinburgh
Bute House, the official residence of the First Minister

Standing in the centre of the square is a memorial to Queen Victoria’s beloved husband Prince Albert who died at the young age of 41 in 1861.  He is depicted on horseback in the private gardens.

Statue of Prince Albert, Charlotte Square, Edinburgh
The statue of Prince Albert in Charlotte Square

From there we continued along to Lothian Road passing the stunning Edwardian Usher Hall on our left.  The concert hall was built in 1914 and can accommodate up to 2,200.  I’m yet to attend a performance there but have seen some excellent plays next door in the equally beautiful Royal Lyceum Theatre.

Usher Hall, Edinburgh
The Usher Hall

Not far from there we passed the arched entrance to the old Edinburgh Meat Market before reaching Lochrin Basin at Fountainbridge which lies at the eastern end of the Union Canal.  Completed in 1822 the canal was built to connect Edinburgh to the Forth and Clyde Canal to allow coal and other goods to be brought into the city by boat.  We’d arranged to stay in an Aparthotel here and our 8th floor studio had panoramic views along the canal from its floor to ceiling windows.  After settling in, and finally dragging ourselves away from the windows we set off for a walk along the towpath.

Views from Altido Vita, Edinburgh
Stunning views from our aparthotel window

From information boards along the canal bank we learnt that with the advancement of the railways the canal had fallen into disrepair in the 1930’s but in recent years a regeneration programme led to the canal being a popular place for leisure boating and walks along the towpath.  The canal was re-opened in 2001 although the link to the Forth & Clyde wasn’t restored until the following year.  The Union Canal does not have any locks apart from a few at its far western end near the Falkirk Wheel but it does have some interesting bridges.

Union Canal moorings, Edinburgh
Moorings on the Union Canal

Located around the canal basin are moorings occupied by colourful narrow boats, some privately owned whilst others are leisure boats for hire.  The old industrial buildings have long since gone and in their place are now swish apartment blocks, offices, bars and restaurants all taking advantage of the tranquil waterside setting.

Leamington Lift Bridge and the Watershed Canal Boat Cafe, Edinburgh
Leamington Lift Bridge and the Watershed Canal Boat Cafe

It wasn’t long before we had arrived at the historic Leamington Lift Bridge which is the only hydraulic bridge to cross the canal.  This impressive piece of engineering is designed to raise the road allowing boats to pass underneath.  Moored just in front of the bridge is the Watershed Canal Boat Cafe adorned with pots of flowers on its roof and tables set out on the towpath, it’s a peaceful spot to relax with a coffee and watch the world go by.

Canal boats at Viewforth Bridge, Edinburgh
Canal boats moored near Viewforth Bridge

Our walk took us slightly further onto Viewforth Bridge where we crossed over the canal and paused to admire the views on either side.  Etched on one side of the bridge is the coat of arms of Edinburgh and on the other that of Glasgow as the Union Canal joins the two cities together with a little help from the Forth & Clyde Canal.

Edinburgh Castle viewed from Grassmarket
Edinburgh Castle viewed from Grassmarket

We left the canal bank at this point and returned to the centre through Bruntsfield and Tollcross before heading down to Grassmarket.  This was once a busy marketplace for horses and cattle and takes its name from the grass and hay they ate rather than of the goods traded.

Grassmarket, Edinburgh
Grassmarket, Edinburgh

Nestled in the heart of the old town, Grassmarket affords stunning views of the castle and is one of the most picturesque and lively parts of the city.  The cobbled square is lined with small shops and numerous bars and restaurants, all looking very continental with their tables spilling out across the square.

Victoria Street, Edinburgh
Victoria Street, Edinburgh

Victoria Street leads up from the far end of Grassmarket and this steep, winding street with its colourful buildings is a photographer’s paradise.  This pretty street gently curves uphill and is full of charm with an upper terrace on the north side adding to its appeal.

Victoria Street, Edinburgh
Victoria Street with its brightly coloured buildings 

The buildings are of old Flemish style and contain may small independent traders including IJ.Mellis, a traditional old fashioned purveyor of Scottish cheese and Swish, an attractive boutique stocking clothing and accessories.

The Mound and New College of the University of Edinburgh
The Mound and New College of the University of Edinburgh

Continuing our afternoon stroll we walked down The Mound which links the old town to the new town.  At its lower end, it provides access into the Princes Street Gardens and the Scottish National Gallery.

Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

Walking through Princes Street Gardens, there are splendid views looking up to the old town and of the Bank of Scotland’s head office and its museum on The Mound, which is free to enter and takes a fascinating look at money.

The Scott Memorial, Edinburgh
The Scott Memorial

Standing proud in Princes Street Gardens is the Scott Memorial built in honour of the Scottish author Sir Walter Scott.  This Gothic monument is one of the world’s largest monuments to a writer.  The spire is decorated with 64 figures representing characters from the writer’s novels.  When it re-opens visitors can climb the 287 steps to the top for some breathtaking city views.

Edinburgh Gin at Festival Village
Edinburgh Gin at Festival Village

We’d had a lovely few hours re-visiting some of our favourite haunts in Edinburgh and where better to round off the day than with a glass of local gin at the Edinburgh Festival in its pop-up garden next to Waverley Station.  Don’t worry if you’re not a gin drinker as it’s not just about gin as other drinks are on offer, plus a mouth watering selection of street food.

 

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Exploring Edinburgh

 

63 thoughts on “Day 1. Exploring Edinburgh

  1. ThingsHelenLoves

    All the lovely Edinburgh views. It’s a beautiful city, especially in the Summer months. It looks like it was fairly quiet, but I think that’s quite nice. The crowds can get a bit much!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post and amazing photos, Marion! Scotland’s capital is one of the most stunning cities in the world. Grassmarket is a lovely place to go and have a wander around. It has these beautiful bending streets that run down to it just off the royal mile. You can have a beer in the numerous pubs, do a bit of shopping or even grab a bite to eat. I really hope to make it back one day. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Pingback: Day 1. Exploring Edinburgh – MAd Production. Company.

  4. It’s been over five years since I visited Edinburgh, and I barely had a day and a half to see all that there’s to see in this massive, Scottish city. Only got a taste of the major sites, including the Royal Mile and views of the castle from Princes Street Gardens. Had been meaning to go up to Arthur’s Seat, but didn’t have the time, unfortunately…your visit to Edinburgh in the warmer months looks to be absolutely stunning, with blue skies that apparently are a rarity in the country. Glad you had fun!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I’m already so excited for this series! what a wonderful way to start my day by reading your posts and seeing your beautiful pictures of such a beautiful city 🙂 I remember walking along Victoria Street and thinking that I would be perfectly happy to stay in Edinburgh for many weeks just wandering through the streets and admiring the buildings. I hope you have a wonderful visit there Marion 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  6. My parents went to Edinburgh on a few occasions. If you can book ahead with some certainty then look for discounts or promotions on the LNER website. They were able to upgrade to first class and got free breakfast and really nice seats for about 25 pounds each way from London. The old town is wonderful especially around Grassmarket and around Greyfriars Church. Also there is a lovely and fairly quiet walk that goes up to Leith. It follows the Water of Leith. The Botanical Gardens are always worth a visit. And if you want to avoid vast crowds then dont go in August as its Edinburgh Festival.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Looks like you had beautiful weather for your visit Marion. Loved your shot of Berwick. I have cousins there that we visited on our 1977 honeymoon. I still remember their smiles when we pronounced it the way it was spelled. we were so young and unworldly then. Edinburgh is a great walking city and your hotel location looks perfect. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week. Allan

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I envy you that you only have to travel four hours by train to get to this beautiful city. Your photos remind me of all the magic of this elegant architecture and the pleasant atmosphere that exists around the monuments of the city centre. Thank you for these fond memories.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Joy Lennick

    As always, an excellent post- photographs and blurb. Thank you! Only wish I’d not missed out Scotland when we travelled (too ancient now!) I always hankered after visiting, but somehow or other, it didn’t happen. Still, we travelled a fair bit and have many happy memories to ponder on. Carry on with your safe travelling and enjoy, as I’m sure you will. Best wishes.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I’ve seen so many photo’s of Edinburgh and you’ve just proven again that this must be one of the most beautiful cities in the UK!
    Love your view from the train (and of course your view from your Aparthotel 😊). And you’re right, Victoria Street looks like a great place to have a stroll with your camera!

    Liked by 3 people

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