New Town psychogeography

I said in the post Walls, rivers and abandoned roads: a day in the Borders that I would write some more about a walk I had after tea in the New Town of Edinburgh. A few years ago, I read a bit about psychogeography, the French Situationist concept that basically encourages alienated city dwellers to become closer to their surroundings by aimlessly drifting through the metropolis. At the time I used to go on regular day trips to Edinburgh. It was fairly close to home and it was also cheap. I used to practise some psychogeography in the streets of the capital, very often in the New Town, mainly below Dublin Street but sometimes as far as Stockbridge. I haven’t done it as much in recent years but I hope my Streets of Glasgow project sort of fits into the psychogeography mould, since it helps me feel closer to Glasgow.

Dublin Street

Keeping to tradition, I started by walking down Dublin Street, soon looking left and right and choosing to walk past the wonderfully named Karen’s Unicorn Chinese restaurant onto Abercromby Place, within moments looking and deciding to head down Nelson Street onto Northumberland Street and then Drummond Place, by its closed gardens. I chose to turn left onto Cumberland Street, mainly because I’ve been thinking about writing about its Glaswegian namesake for a while, and it was very pleasant with a few folk sitting outside pubs or otherwise milling around in the evening sunshine. It took me out at St. Stephen’s Church, probably my favourite New Town building and the type of church where it is readily possible to imagine a couple swishing out of it freshly married and being showered by confetti by their friends and loved ones. I did think about walking up Royal Circus but that would have taken me too far from Waverley and I was tired. Instead I ended up back on Northumberland Street. That day I had not only been in Northumberland but also at Dryburgh Abbey where Walter Scott and his biographer John Wilson Lockhart are buried. Randomly I was walking behind a couple who met a friend of theirs outside his house, which had a plaque on it saying that it was where one John Wilson Lockhart lived. I like serendipity like that. Everything’s connected. The walk soon finished on Dublin Street as I looked towards Waverley and home.

St Stephen’s Church
New Town
Cumberland Street

It had been good to do a derive again. My rambles tend to be more rigidly planned these days so being able to just follow my feet and my instincts, especially on a beautiful night in a nice part of a city I know well, was just magic, a great end to a very varied day.




3 thoughts on “New Town psychogeography

  1. Very cool to hear another link to psychogeography, and the Situationalists and their practices of Derive. You might be interested in a book that a friend recently introduced me to, called “The Beach Beneath the Street”. It discusses the evoluation of the Situationalist movement and some of the different streams of thought among the different members of the group. It takes a while to get into, but very interesting once you do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi,
      I realised I had forgotten to reply to this. Thank you for the recommendation – I’ve just acquired a copy and may even get to read it over the next couple of weeks!


  2. Pingback: Digest: July 2017 – Walking Talking

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