I’ve been hanging onto this one for a while – since May, in fact, as there has been so much else going on, but I felt it was about time to start sharing my visit to this amazing city.
I’m not, by nature, a city lover. Holidays, for me, are usually about getting out into the countryside and seeing wildlife. This trip came about as a result of the book signing I did at the Marriot Hotel near Edinburgh airport, and I’m very glad I decided to combine a short break with the event.
So without further ado, here we go.
I booked our hotel (Brian flew up to join me) as usual on the internet, taking location into account – near enough to the city centre to walk, but not right in it. Many of the central city hotels look absolutely fabulous, but none of the have car parking, so that was my deciding factor.
The hotel I booked, Masson House, turned out to be inside the University grounds, a really lovely and quiet setting on the edge of Holyrood Park. It’s a modern building, but this beautiful traditional Scottish building greets you as you drive through the gates.
We only had two days, so I crammed as much as possible into them, starting with a walk up the Royal Mile (which is actually 1.2 miles, but let’s not split hairs!). We had to walk through Holyrood Park to get there, which was no hardship – it is a truly beautiful and extraordinary city park, with Arthur’s Seat at its heart.
Not heard of Arthur’s Seat? No, I hadn’t either, and was stunned to discover it is the remains of a volcano, described by Robert Louis Stevenson as “a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design”.
We set off relatively early in the morning, with the Scotch mist clinging to the peaks, but that didn’t detract from the awesomeness of the views.
The night before, when I collected Brian from the airport, we had come to realise that much of the city was closed, by virtue of the running of the Edinburgh Marathon the following morning, and guess what we discovered in Holyrood Park?
Slightly disturbing the peace, but hey, it was a novelty!
I don’t know how many run this marathon, but it was a lot. I took this snippet with one particular friend in mind – Marcia, keep your eye on the flag…
Yes, plenty of Scots run their marathon in kilts! I just hope they were wearing something underneath…
This was the view heading towards Holyrood Palace
Then just around the corner, we found the Scottish Parliament building
And opposite that, in front of the palace, the Queen’s Gallery
So here is the view at the bottom of the Royal Mile, spookily empty with just the odd (slow) runner bringing up the rear.
Back to civilisation…
And some of the wonderfully eclectic buildings
Through the arches, the Law Court
One of the many wonderful statues
Of interest to writers, this little archway leads to
The Writer’s Museum, dedicated to three giants of Scottish Literature – Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson
Filling up with people again
Architecture and culture
Top right hand side of the last few seconds you will see the dome of the Camera Obscura (more in a minute) and the rather anachronistic looking boxy construction across the middle is part of the gantry set up in preparation for televising the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which takes place in July.
There are wonderful signs around the streets
I LOVE this one!
A few of the things you can purchase on the mile, along with whisky, Harry Potter memorabilia, gorgeous clothing (including kilts) in tartan, wool, and cashmere, weapons, and food galore,
Edinburgh Castle stands at the top of the Royal Mile, and I do mean, the top, and I will cover that amazing visit in another post, but here’s a quick glimpse
On the way back down the mile, we stopped in at the Camera Obscura, which is an absolute MUST visit in Edinburgh. To quote the website: “Welcome to the oldest visitor attraction in Edinburgh, delighting visitors since 1835. An Aladdin’s cave filled with illusions, tricks, puzzles, hands-on experiences, unbelievable effects and the best rooftop views of the city.”
And then it was back down the mile. It’s quite a hill, as the Castle stands on another remnant of the volcano, and we were pretty tired by the end of the day, but not too tired to admire the fabulous views from Holyrood Park now most of the mist had cleared. The gorse in full bloom is so beautiful at this time of year (May)
And there is a lovely lake, with lots of birds and a small ruin (no idea what it was, sorry)
And finally, the most fantastic view back across the city
I will be visiting again next summer, attending 20BooksEdinburgh – can’t wait! Staying on the same campus a few doors away from Masson House, maybe this time I will have the energy to make the 30 minute hike to the top of Arthur’s Seat. After the conference, Brian will again join me for 3 days at Masson House and an evening at the Military Tattoo. I also hope to take in the zoo, and some other nearby historical sites.
Hope you enjoyed this quick visit to Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and Holyrood Park!