As a child, visiting Edinburgh was like a mini magical adventure. I can still remember the excitement from getting on the train and crossing the grand Forth Rail Bridge. The best part was when the train would slowly approach Waverley Station and I was able to look up at the imposing and dramatic Castle. It’s comes as no surprise that as an adult I decided to move to the city. Since moving, I have now been here for twelve years and Edinburgh still holds that certain magic for me. Its typical that when living and working in any city, you get used to the sights, your daily work takes over and you sometimes forget the beauty that surrounds you. However, Edinburgh has a mystical charm that when you start to forget its beauty and its surroundings become mundane, in some unsuspecting way it pulls you back in and reminds you of why you love it so much.
Okay, it’s not a secret that our weather is not known to be the best however with each day, comes an unpredictable work of art. Sometimes, when the sun is shining and the sky is blue, the normally grey buildings are transformed and illuminated into a multitude of hues, surrounded by a backdrop of deep green trees and gardens. The city truly comes alive with tourists and locals alike. In August, the Edinburgh festival invites people from all over the world, descending to enjoy the charms that Edinburgh can offer. As winter approaches, the low sun creeps behind the numerous cathedrals creating amazing shadows and silhouettes. The rusty orange glow from fallen leaves blow through the streets. Sometimes the mischievous haar (sea mist) that slowly ebbs its way up from the coast masking the city, creates a haunting mist around the towering clock tower of The Balmoral Hotel. The only thing I don’t enjoy is the occasional wind that confusingly whips around from all directions An umbrella being completely useless when rain is added to the equation, but then again, this has its own beauty (although the locals would disagree). As is the way with Scottish weather, of the above could actually happen on one day therefore its important to be well prepared!
Although a city, Edinburgh has areas where you feel like you are in a completely different environment. There are little pockets of relief from the noise and bustle of the city centre. Being relatively small you can get to these compartments of beauty in a reasonably short time and they are of course all free of charge.
Below I give you my #high5 of my favourite places to enjoy a more relaxed and tranquil side to Edinburgh. For me these are preferably enjoyed when the weather is nice but due to Edinburgh’s unpredictability, remember to be prepared for all types of weather; rain or shine.
#Water of Leith
This walk is best done when it’s a nice sunny day. I often venture here on a lazy Sunday. The water of Leith stretches for miles through Edinburgh but my favourite part starts from the Cannonmills area. Grab some breakfast at the lovely Earthy’s, selling a whole range of wholesome foods. Follow the signs to the water of Leith and start your walk through this meandering path, through the leafy woods.
After a short time you end up in the beautiful area of Stockbridge. On a Sunday, you can experience the Stockbridge Market showcasing some of the produce from local shops and farms. It’s a great place to sample some of Edinburgh’s finest food products. You should grab a takeaway coffee, and some nibbles then start your next leg of the water of Leith. Pass the beautiful statue of Hygeia and twisting under the imposing arches of Dean Bridge you will enter Dean Village. Here It feels like you have travelled back in time and the beautiful Well Court which was built for local mill workers in the 1880’s provides a Harry Potter style feel to the place. It is sure to cast a spell over you.
Once you can peel your eyes of this quaint little area, continue following the river through the green lush woods and you will then reach Dean Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art. If it’s a lovely day try and grab a seat at the back of the Gallery of Modern Art for a bite to eat. If you have brought your own, you can picnic in the middle of a piece of art in itself on the gallery’s lawn. This stepped serpentine mound twists around crescent shaped pools of water.
As a dramatic backdrop to the city you can’t help but notice Arthur’s seat. This large natural monument jutting from the landscape provides sweeping views of the city.
A short walk from the city centre and down the historic Royal Mile, passing the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Palace you approach this commanding piece of land. As you trek up its steep incline the sounds of the city begin to drop away and you feel like you have been transported to some uninhabited wild landscape. Circling around this beautiful crag brings amazing sights for the eyes. On one side a far-reaching view of the city and on the other a view of the vast Firth of Forth.
Once you reach it’s summit, you are filled with a satisfying feeling of achievement. You can’t help but sit, feel the fresh air on your face and revel in the cities beauty and colours. Trailing down the other side, the city fades from view and the gorgeous colours of grass, heather, thistles and wild plants dance in the breeze.
As you reach the bottom enjoy a fantastic picture opportunity from ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel, looking over St Margarets Loch, Holyrood Park and of course the Queens official residence; Holyrood Palace.
#The Royal Botanic Gardens
Hidden out of view from the main street of Inverleith Row, this garden oasis is an amazing rest bite from the droves of crowds in the city centre. With protection all round by beautiful trees and plants it makes an amazing sun trap, perfect to sit and read a book, eat a picnic or simply stroll around. In summer the garden is bursting with colours and fragrances from an array of different flowers and its peaceful interior provides a perfect illusion as if there were no city out with its borders.
From the city centre it can be reached in 15 minutes by bus or if you want take a slow walk (its all downhill) you will be sure to be treated to a few lovely sights of the beautiful Georgian architecture of the New Town area.
From the lovely Chinese hillside walk, to the delicate rock gardens there is something for everyone here.
My favourite has to be the woodland garden, where plants are left to grow wild and birds sing from the dense green leaves above.
Another beautiful site is the gardens Victorian Palm House which was built in 1832. This beautiful piece of glass architecture stands proud yet fits perfectly within the gardens and houses a beautiful array of palms and exotic plants and flowers. No wonder this garden was frequented by the Queen Mother. On a rainy day, you are able sit in for some warmth and listen to the rain tap against the glass roof.
As you leave Edinburgh Botanic Gardens from its main entrance, make sure you head over the road to Inverleith Park. This green expanse is perfect for families, fitness fanatics, runners and dog walkers. It also provides a sweeping view of the city and castle; a great view point for Edinburgh’s New Year fireworks display.
Near the shore of the city is this little hidden gem. It’s much smaller compared to Edinburgh’s iconic castle, however offers a beautiful historic building and lovely serene gardens.
As you walk around this beautiful 16th century building you are welcomed with a surprising sweeping view of the Firth of Forth and Cramond Island. Have a walk around the expansive lawn where in the summer, croquet is being played.
Take a minute and sit on the bench looking out to an amazing view of fields and the dramatic coast.
Within the grounds there is a peaceful and serene walled Japanese garden filled with willow trees, ponds and trickling waterfalls.
If you fancy a trip to the coast then this is sure to float your boat. Feel the fresh sea air on your face and take a walk along the wide Granton promenade often used by dog walkers, cyclists and runners. As you walk along, soak in the beautiful sights of the Firth of Forth and the Kingdom of Fife that straddles the other side of the water.
You will walk past the iconic 8 tonne fish sculpture carved from pink granite and eventually come to Cramond beach.
When the tide is low the golden sands stretch out for miles and the small Cramond Island can be reached. This small tidal island is 1.6km out into the water and can be reached by a causeway during low tide, but be sure to check your times as you don’t want to be stranded.
In summer this beach is perfect for spotting some beautiful Scottish sunsets.
Also in this area is the quaint little village of Cramond that lies at the mouth of the River Almond. Wander around the areas charming little buildings, watch the small fishing boats sway in their docks or take a walk up the meandering River Almond, whatever you choose to do, you’re sure to be captivated by this hidden little corner of Edinburgh.
It’s that time of year again where Edinburgh’s annual Foodies Festival hits Inverleith Park from the 5th to 7th August.
There will be lots going on in this very popular festival and tickets are sure to sell out fast. From Cake and Bake Theatre, Street Food Avenue, Vintage Tea Tent and an abundance of food and beverage stands your sure to fill all your culinary needs all in one place. There will be a few returning chef’s to the venue such as the amazing Brian Grigor, who I interviewed in my Christmas Foodies Festival Post and Master Chef Finalist Tony Rodd who I met at the last festival.
I have a pair of tickets to give away for this popular event. In order to win, all you have to do is
– follow my Instagram ‘Scottjmcglashan’ and Twitter @ScottE2hotE
– Paste and share the following on Twitter: check out @ScottE2hote blog post and competition http://wp.me/p6taVJ-oZ
Entries to be received by 27th July 2016.