Edinburgh Walk – 19.05.2011

“Athens of the North” – This is where we were headed today. Using the high speed train and travelling approximately 60 miles (~ 96 km) we found ourselves walking the Capital city of Scotland – Edinburgh.

It was in stark contrast to Berwick Upon Tweed. Instead of a relaxed town atmosphere, we could feel immediately that you were in the midst of a busy city. Nevertheless, the city maintained an historic feel – despite the brand new shopping mall by Waverley Rail Station. Since we had no real route plan we decided to take Edinburgh in our stride – particularly as we only had the afternoon to look around the city.

We wandered slowly down the “Princes Street” – one side being busy shops – whilst the other is flanked by “Princes Street Gardens”. Whilst walking along a huge Gothic structure caught my eye. In fact this is monument which is known as “The Scott Monument”; built to commemorate the works of the Poet Sir Walter Scott. What a wonderful tribute to have built in his memory.

From 2011 – 19.05.2011 – Edinburgh Walk

It was not long before we passed by the Royal Scottish Academy. I wonder if Lowry had displayed any art there… which I very much doubt??? This Academy building has been in existence since 1826. It was designed by William Henry Playfair – an eminent Scottish Architect – he had been responsible for many other buildings around Edinburgh such as the Old College, St Stephen’s Church and the City Observatory. As we continued along, Edinburgh Castle had always remained in the skyline – it dominates Edinburgh City – it seemed like a good idea to visit it!

We decided to at least take in some more sights of Edinburgh before trying to find a route to the castle. We turned off Princes Street – to see where we would end up! We discovered a huge round building – reminiscent to me of the Royal Albert Hall in London. In fact the Usher Hall was built after the Royal Albert Hall and was officially opened in 1914. This magnificent hall was bestowed to Edinburgh City when Andrew Usher – who is credited as the first blender of whisky (~1860) – gave a generous gift of £100,000 to build a huge concert hall in the city.

From 2011 – 19.05.2011 – Edinburgh Walk

As we walked on, we passed the Lyceum Theatre – a beautiful building in my humble opinion! It was built in 1883 and it is a magnificent example of late Victorian theatre architecture :-). Continuing on, I noticed a strange looking building with the words “Filmhouse” – looked odd against a Georgian building! I have since read that the “Filmhouse” has been home to Edinburgh International Film Festival – and Martin Scorsese, Andrei Tarkovsky, Sean Connery and James Mason have all been there! I must admit I am so glad that I keep my eyes peeled when I go walking – It didn’t really stand out as a place for an International Film Festival to me!

We decided to turn back to make our way to the castle. Although we did hesitate for a while to look at the Wonderland model shop that we found! On our way back as we passed the Usher Hall I was surprised to find a – Scottish Tardis – or rather an old Police box – or can someone tell me What it is?

From 2011 – 19.05.2011 – Edinburgh Walk

Leaving the Tardis behind, we found a nice stone building. It seemed lovely – just overlooking Princes Street Gardens – not doing much. However this was watchtower to keep guard over the cemetery of St Cuthberts – to stop Bodysnatchers during the early Nineteenth Century. These Bodysnatchers – known as the “Resurrection Men” would sell freshly buried bodies to students for examinations (not Alien Bodysnatchers!) It sounds likes some horror movie 😦

We took a small diversion into the church, since we had a bit of time – and I was glad we did as I made a pleasant discovery! I noted as I was taking a few photos of the windows, that there was one particular window that caught my eye. It seemed to stand out from the others – I was right to look into it further – although this window was a depiction of David going out to meet Goliath it had been created by Tiffany Glass Company of New York (after 1900), one of only 2/3 Tiffany windows in the United Kingdom. The window was installed in the Church commemorate a soldier of the Boer War. I have just discovered that Agatha Christie was married in this church 🙂

Leaving the church behind, we continued through the gardens, determined to find a way to the Castle. We had to cross the railway line to find a route to climb the hill, and discovered a strange little woodland that had been planted. It was reminder of the past and what would kind of landscape Edinburgh would have had in the Twelfth Century in the reign of David 1st – an area for Hunting and Hawking – I dont think I could quite imagine that in 2011.

On our way to the castle, we found a strange little statue of a Dog named “Bum”. Why would a statue of a dog be so relevant to Edinburgh? In fact this was a statue of the official dog from the city of San Diego!?! San Diego, has a similar statue of “Greyfriars Bobby”, a dog who’s faithful vigil over his master grave in Greyfriars church in Edinburgh earned him many friends and much respect. “Bum” was a different kind of dog and has many tales attached to him (or should that be tales LOL). It seems the two cities felt they had something in common with there two loving dogs 🙂 A kind of City Twinning

From 2011 – 19.05.2011 – Edinburgh Walk

Leaving the canine behind, it took us quite a while to reach the castle, as most of the paths are currently cut off – we had to take the long route around via the Royal Mile. We did not mind since we discovered that a huge Grandstand is being built to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo – and will look very impressive when it is finished.

Edinburgh Castle is quite magnificent from the outside and we did not have to venture in on this occasion – and yes I think there will be a time to come back! A reference to a “fortress” of some kind has being on this “volcanic” rock has been recorded as early as 600AD – which I consider quite impressive – and obviously shows the importance its location. David 1st built the first known castle on the site with a chapel which was dedicated to his mother Queen Margaret in the Twelfth Century which still stands today. The castle has not just been a fortress is has also been a prison – holding Prisoners of War during the Napoleonic wars and now the castle is a tourist attraction! I will go into more detail when I return.

We left the castle behind to walk along the “Royal Mile”. The name “Royal Mile” possibly originates from the time of David 1st who referred to this “High Street” to the castle as “Via Regis” – “The Way of the King”. Although the mile was originally for trading, it has been known for residential use, and in fact it was highly populated during its history – at one time over 70,000 people living here in 1645!

Whereever we walked the mile held a fascinating history. A series of offshoots – such as Riddles Close, St James Court and Old Stamp Office Close all held their own pieces of history from Dr Johnson – rich merchants and Flora Macdonald a Jacobite Heroine all living or staying in the Mile! We passed St Giles Cathedral and onto Canongate.

From 2011 – 19.05.2011 – Edinburgh Walk

It was not long before we came across “The Fudge House” – we did not buy any, but it did have a little piece of interesting information! Princess Anne herself had bought fudge from this lovely little shop…! I was sorely tempted to stop and buy some I must admit. We continued past the Tolbooth Tavern – not just any tavern but it was originally built in 1591 to collect tolls from travellers to the burgh. It also served as a Prison and Council chambers with some rather gruesome tales – which I am not sure I want to really repeat click here if you want to read more!

Walking past the memorial to the Scots Poet – Robert Fergusson – a poet that had inspired Robert Burns himself.. Burns even paid for his headstone, because Fergusson had passed away in poverty. As we trundled along the mile it was not long before we had an odd experience – Christmas in May! We had come across “Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe”. I must admit it was intriguing to see this shop so early in the year – but it must be popular since Sir Cliff Richard himself actually decided to buy his Christmas decorations there!! 🙂

We were nearing the end of our walk, as we needed to get back to Berwick Upon Tweed. But before we got back to Waverley Station, we passed “the Stones of Scotland” – a monument created by George Wylie MBE. It marks Scotlands New Parliament. There are 32 stones to represent the 32 regional councils from as far as the Shetlands.

We had to the stones behind to run for our high speed train – so we did not get time to look at anything else. It does mean we may just have to return! For all the photos for this enjoyable afternoon walk, please feel free to click on the photo below 🙂 –

2011 – 19.05.2011 – Edinburgh Walk

Our Walking Route.

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