I had planned to have a full weekend in Edinburgh but unfortunately, having missed the train I had booked months in advance, I had to take the coach from London. Buying a train ticket on the day of travel in the UK can be incredibly expensive, as I found out that day. This meant that I spent Saturday on the road, reaching the city only in the evening. I was too tired to go out for one of the Edinburgh jazz and blues festival events taking place around the city that week.
So, my experience of Edinburgh was the early morning walk I took on a Sunday morning in July last year. Given that I was out early, there was hardly anyone on the road and despite the heavily overcast skies and the occasional drizzle, I enjoyed my walk in solitude.
I started at Greyfriars Bobby as I wanted to start my walk from this special place, which happened to be close to where I was staying at Grassmarket. The story of the little Skye terrier who sat guarding his owner John Gray’s grave for 14 years had touched me and I had wanted to visit the little fellow’s grave. I first came across the statue at a water fountain in front of the pub named after the dog. I walked into the church and came across the grave of Bobby at the entrance and quite near the grave of John Gray.
I walked over George IV bridge and onto High Street, part of the streets that make up the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace. While St. Giles’ Cathedral considered Edinburgh’s principal place of worship for centuries was closed at that time in the morning, I did revisit later in the morning for the choir. The statue of Adam Smith, the pioneer of political economy and the author of the seminal work ‘The Wealth of Nations’, was close to the cathedral.
At the end of the Royal mile, opposite Holyrood Palace, I came across the new Scottish parliament building inaugurated in 2004.
I walked a little bit along the slopes of Holyrood park before I decided to turn back as the paths were becoming more slippery and my legs were beginning to protest.
I decided to walk back along Cowgate road, which was the street along which cattle were herded along during market days in medieval times. It was along this stretch of road that I passed this narrow street called Old Fishmarket Close. I had read about the interesting story of Maggie Dickson, a famous resident of this close, in the Scotland Magazine. Maggie was a fish hawker who had lived on this street. She had been tried in 1742 under the absurd Concealment of Pregnancy Act of 1690, for having tried to conceal her pregnancy, and sentenced to death. Though the doctor declared her dead after her hanging, moans were heard from her coffin as she was taken to the graveyard. She was allowed to live as her recovery was seen as an act of God.
Later in the morning, after breakfast, I decided to head towards the Scottish National Gallery and browsed through the collection. While I was enjoying my coffee on the terrace after finishing my tour of the gallery, I noticed that the monument to Sir Walter Scott was just close by. So, I walked up to the Gothic structure. I think I climbed up to the third level but not all 287 steps to the top and fourth level, as my fear of heights was beginning to kick in.
I had also wanted to visit the Scottish Storytelling Center, which had caught my eye, during my earlier morning walk. The bookshop of the center was open and I enjoyed going through the Scottish themed books. The Storytelling Center is an arts venue, which also hosts the International Storytelling Festival in October.
All too soon it was time for me to head towards Edinburgh Waverly Station for my return trip to London and not wanting to miss my train again, I made it to the station with lots of time to spare.
Hope you enjoyed the morning walk around Edinburgh with me!
Have you visited Edinburgh? What was your favourite experience of the city?