Day 7. The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

All good things have to come to an end and before we knew it, we had reached the final day of our Scottish holiday.  Our train home wasn’t until 6.30 p.m. though so we had the entire day to explore Edinburgh.

View from Altido Vita, Edinburgh
Beautiful views from our hotel room

After checking out of the lovely Altido Vita aparthotel and leaving our luggage to collect later we headed into Edinburgh’s new town north of the city centre.  Stockbridge is a short 15 minute downhill walk from Princes Street through the beautiful Georgian neo-classical streets of the new town.  If you don’t feel like walking up and down the steep hills buses 24 and 29 will quickly take you to Raeburn Place from the city centre.

Georgian crescents in Edinburgh's new town
Georgian crescents grace the new town

Until the mid 18th century Stockbridge was a separate part of Edinburgh but as the new town grew it became part of the expanding city.  Stockbridge is one of my favourite districts with its village feel, high class small shops and its range of smart gastropubs and cafes.  Being a Sunday, the weekly Stockbridge Market was taking place on Saunders Street.  It’s always a joy to wander around the stalls where small traders display their artwork, crafts and candles.  It’s also foodie heaven with local farmhouse cheese, fish, olives and artisan beers, with tables and chairs set out to enjoy the wide variety of street food on offer.

Stockbridge Market, Edinburgh
Stockbridge Market

Small shops line Raeburn Place with almost all of them open on Sundays.  They are so appealing that I can’t recall strolling along without being tempted to buy something.  Outside St. Bernard’s Bar was a gathering of St. Bernard dog owners with their real life St. Bernards.  I’m unsure if this is a regular meet up but it must have been pre-planned to see so many of them together.

St. Bernard dogs at the St. Bernard Bar, Stockbridge, Edinburgh
St. Bernard dogs outside the St. Bernard Bar in Stockbridge

To one side of the stone bridge from which Stockbridge takes its name is a short flight of stone steps leading down to the Water of Leith walkway.  This riverside footpath runs for 12 miles from the outlying village of Balerno to the port of Leith with numerous joining points along its route.

The Water of Leith Walkway in Stockbridge, Edinburgh
Starting the Water of Leith footpath from Stockbridge

It was just a short distance to the Royal Botanic Garden but nonetheless a very pleasant stroll along a well maintained shady path sufficiently wide to cater for both pedestrians and cyclists.  The path doesn’t always go directly by the water but is clearly signposted when it diverts inland for short stretches.  The walkway then runs parallel with the gardens in the Inverleith area of the city before taking us near to east gate entrance on Inverleith Row.

Azaleas in Edinburgh Botanic Garden
Flowering azaleas in the botanic garden

The Edinburgh Royal Botanic Garden was founded in 1670 by two doctors who studied medicinal plants.  After originally being located in Holyrood the garden was then re-located to Inverleith in 1870.

Palm House, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
The beautiful Palm House

The garden covers 72 acres with more than 10,000 plants divided into various areas each dedicated to a variety of vegetation.  The glasshouses are the only part of the garden that are not free to visit but although we would have liked to have taken a look inside they were yet to re-open.

The Queen Mother's Memorial Garden, Edinburgh
The Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden

It was a lovely sunny day, just perfect for strolling around the landscaped gardens and relaxing awhile on a wooden bench among the flowering plants.  Highlights of the garden include the Queen Mother Memorial Garden designed to represent her love of travelling in Scotland with a Celtic style maze planted with Bog Myrtle evocative of the landscapes around the Castle of Mey, her Scottish home.

Herbaceous Border, Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
The magnificent herbaceous border

The herbaceous border created in 1902 was looking impressive with its colour graded planting scheme starting and finishing with purples and blues and going through shades of yellow and red in the middle.  Rhododendrons and azaleas were also flourishing, adding splashes of colour to the Woodland Garden.

Blue poppies at the Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
Blue poppies in the wildflower garden

Magnificent tall Redwood trees line the John Muir Grove, named in honour of the Scottish born writer and conservationist who founded the US National Park system.  Planted in the 1920’s many of these trees now reach heights of up to 24m.

Cottage Garden, Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
The pretty Cottage Garden

Yet another interesting feature is the Chinese Hillside recreating an expanse of south west China and containing one of the largest collections of Chinese plants cultivated outside of the country.

Inverleith House, Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
The Inverleith House Museum

Inverleith House was built for Sir David Rocheid (1715-1787) as his family home and as a centrepiece to the estate before it was sold to the Royal Botanic Garden and this is now home to a museum and exhibition space overlooking an ornamental pond (currently closed).

Water of Leith Walkway, Edinburgh
Returning to Stockbridge along the Water of Leith walkway

On leaving the gardens by their other west gate on Arboretum Place we retraced our steps back to Stockbridge and then back uphill to Queen Street in the new town.  If you don’t fancy the hike back uphill then buses 8, 23 and 27 all pass near the garden on their way back to the city centre.

Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh
The Grand Hall, Scottish National Portrait Gallery

As we were on Queen Street it was an ideal opportunity to visit the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.  This red sandstone magnificent neo-gothic palace opened in 1889 as the world’s first purpose built portrait gallery.  The exterior of the building is adorned with 31 figures from Scottish history and stepping inside, the Great Hall is a work of art in itself.  Portraits of famous historical figures including Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns line the walls alongside more recognisable recent portraits such as Sir Chris Hoy, one of the greatest Olympic cyclists and the comedian/ actor Billy Connolly.

Altido Vita, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh
The Altido Vita hotel overlooking the canal where we had been staying

Leaving the gallery, we enjoyed one last meal on elegant George Street, another of Edinburgh’s main shopping streets and one of my favourites with its boutiques and smaller high-end stores.  It was then time to return to the hotel to collect our luggage before returning home on our early evening train from Edinburgh Waverley after such a lovely week in Scotland.

During our stay in Edinburgh we were guests of Altido Vita.


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Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh



55 thoughts on “Day 7. The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

  1. I have enjoyed your series of posts about Edinburgh, and beyond, very much indeed! I love Botanical Gardens and Stockbridge is exactly my kind of place. I do hope that I will be able to revisit Edinburgh one of these days.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! The herbaceous border definitely caught my eye with its bursting colors of violet and white; same goes for the blue poppies! The Grand Hall at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery looks stunning, too, and based on its layout, it seems to be twinned with the Kelvingrove in Glasgow. Glad you had another tranquil time in Edinburgh!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The elegant Royal Botanic Garden, used to be one of my go-to places whenever I desired some peace and tranquillity, especially after a long working week as back then I used to work as a bartender. I loved walking around it and see it change throughout the seasons; there was always something new and exciting to see. I am glad to see you also enjoyed Stockbridge – it’s now one of Edinburgh’s most desirable neighbourhoods and it’s easy to see why once you walk around it. Thanks so much for sharing. Your post brings back lots of happy memories from my time in this wonderful city. Have a lovely weekend, Marion 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so pleased Aiva that this post has brought back some fond memories for you of this lovely part of Edinburgh. It’s somewhere that I could happily live. Thanks so much for taking an interest in this post. Hope your weekend is going well and the sun has been shining today in Sligo. Marion

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: Day 7. The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh – boomet.Com

    1. It was a pity that the Palm House was closed but I’m sure we will be back again sometime when it has re-opened. The Botanic Gardens are beautiful and I had never seen blue poppies before. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment Ian and I hope you enjoy a pleasant weekend. Marion

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh what a beautiful tour of this part of Edinburgh! I just can’t decide which was my favorite part- the incredible mural on the wall of the portrait gallery, or the those striking blue poppies, or all the pups hanging out together. Makes me want to run away to Edinburgh right now. I have really loved your Scottish tour. I hope you have a great weekend 🙂

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  6. A great walking route for the last day in Edinburgh, Marion. Love the waterside paths and the gardens with those brilliant blue poppies look spectacular. A perfect way to stretch the legs before the trip home. Thanks for sharing. Allan

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  7. Oh the money you save me by taking us along on your trips. Latest news sounds like the EU will close the border for non-essential travel soon. Come on people, get your shot and mask-up! I’ve got places to goand things to see and I’m running out of time.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Well, you’ve done it again. The Royal Botanic Garden looks every bit as lovely as I’d expect. We have been watching The Crown the past few months, so appreciated the idea of the Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden. Both the National Portrait Gallery and Inverleith House Museum look like essential stops too. Great work Marion, plenty more inspiration for anyone planning a trip to Edinburgh.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I love market days in a town – there’s no way I’ll walk away empty handed (especially when it comes to all the delicious food)! And what a wonderful sunny day you had to explore these beautiful botanical gardens … the blue poppies are so pretty 💐. Oh, and I’ve enjoyed the photo of the St. Bernard dogs in front of the St. Bernard’s Bar ☺️.
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful week in Scotland Marion – it was amazing to see all the beautiful places.

    Liked by 2 people

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