As is probably well known on this blog by now, I have a hearty dislike of Edinburgh during the month of August. As a sensory overload, it’s hard to beat. Unfortunately it is often like that the other eleven months of the year too. Fortunately, having grown up in East Lothian and partly being educated in the capital means I have a broad knowledge of the place and how to avoid the worst of the madness. For example, the Calton Road entrance of Waverley Station is incredibly handy, which I use when heading to Easter Road to avoid the leafleters and craziness around Princes Street. Or the walkway through the station that cuts out Waverley Bridge and the Mound.
Recently I came up with a list of some of my favourite places in Edinburgh. Some of them are on the tourist trail, most aren’t.
The Royal Botanic Garden –
The Botanics is often busy but it’s location a mile north of the city centre means there’s a bit of respite. It has incredible views over the city including the best one of Edinburgh Castle where it looks like a proper fortress rather than like it loves itself. It is very easy to find a place to yourself in the Botanics, just walk off a path. My favourite part is the John Muir Grove with sequoias. I’ve done a lot of my best thinking in the Botanics.
Hermitage of Braid –
Another green place outwith the city centre. The Hermitage sits underneath Blackford Hill. It’s a strip of greenness with a burn running through the middle. It’s peaceful.
Newhaven Harbour –
I often see Newhaven Harbour in my Facebook feed. It is very photogenic with its lighthouse and yachts. It is also fairly quiet and outwith the city centre, not far from Ocean Terminal.
Lochend Park –
Lochend Park isn’t the most glamorous park in the world. It has a loch and might be a bit overgrown. It has a playpark for bairns and benches so weary travellers can eat their lunch before going to the football at Easter Road, which is just over the wall. It’s also near where I went to primary school so I know it well.
Gloucester Lane –
This is a street leading down from the New Town to Stockbridge. There’s a birdhouse on one of the houses. It is pretty and also quite unlike Edinburgh. It looks like a set of stables.
Dunbar’s Close –
Dunbar’s Close is a small, neat garden at the back of the High Street. It’s in a lot of tourist books but it is fairly quiet. It’s an oasis in the heart of the city, removed from the hordes.
Craigmillar Castle –
My favourite castle in Edinburgh. I believe it has been used as a location in Outlander and a photo I took there appeared in some guidebook. Craigmillar is fairly awkward by public transport, necessitating either a walk from Craigmillar or the Royal Infirmary. It is historically interesting, with deep links to Mary, Queen of Scots, and it has good views over eastern Edinburgh, East Lothian and Midlothian.
That’s my alternative Edinburgh list. Hopefully this post doesn’t result in these wonderful places being deluged. If visiting the capital in August, my main advice is be prepared. It is mad. Plan your routes and look after yourself in all senses. Edinburgh is a beautiful city with plenty of charms. Some of them are lesser-spotted than others.