My #ThisisEdinburgh24: Edinburgh World Heritage
01 October 2015
In July we launched our #ThisisEdinburgh24 campaign, where we asked you how you would spend 24 hours in Edinburgh. As part of the campaign, we've been out and about asking people who live and work in Edinburgh to write about their perfect day in the city.
This week, we spoke to David Hicks, Communications Manager from Edinburgh World Heritage. Here, David talks to us about the best things to see and do in Edinburgh in 24 hours...
The best thing about being given the luxury of an entire day to spend in Edinburgh, is the opportunity to see the city as a visitor. In fact above all else, visitors enjoy simply walking about soaking in some of the city’s unique atmosphere and sights, so I would follow their good example.
First thing in the morning is one of the best times to see the Old Town, so for breakfast I would head to Cannonball House, a 380 year-old townhouse now opened by the Contini’s as a café and restaurant. All the expected things are on offer, but the porridge here really is special. I particularly like the fact that the front door still has its ‘tirling pin’, used before door knockers became commonplace.
As the crowds start to gather on Castlehill, I would take a leisurely stroll to the New Town, taking in the grandeur of Charlotte Square and the West End, before heading down to the Dean Village. I like to take the steep steps just beyond Drumsheugh Baths, as they wind between the tall tenements and emerge at the arts-and-crafts Hawthorn Cottages right next to the Water of Leith. I’d head up the footpath, taking in the impressive Dean Bridge and St Bernard’s Well on the way.
Leaving the Water of Leith at Stockbridge, St Stephen’s Street is only a short distance away, a charming street of Georgian shopfronts. Mr Purve's Lamp Emporium here is a Stockbridge institution, a Victorian throw-back with a dizzying array of oil lamps and other antiques on display.
From St Stephen’s Street I would take a stroll through the residential streets of the Georgian New Town. Just like the Old Town there are nooks and crannies to explore, with mews and back lanes behind the main frontages. It is intriguing to see how many of these have been converted to houses, mixing very modern architecture with historic features.
The Cumberland Bar is great place to stop for lunch, made famous in Alexander McCall-Smith’s 44 Scotland Street novels. The garden there is a relaxed place to enjoy good food and decent pint, but it’s also good to reflect on how close the city came to losing hidden gems such as this. In the 1960s much of this street was earmarked for demolition, but was saved by the actions of a few dedicated individuals. A success story the city should be rightly proud of.
Taking the short walk back to Dundas Street I would hop on a No.23 bus, for what must count as one of the best bus routes in the country. Sit on the top deck and you have a fantastic view across the New Town, followed by a stunning panorama of the Old Town skyline. A tour through the heart of the World Heritage Site for only £1.50.
Jumping off at George IV Bridge, I would head down to the Canongate, a great place to explore. There are a wealth of options, but perhaps I’d take in a tour of the Scottish Parliament, or a look at the latest exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery. Dunbar’s Close garden is another favourite, a good place for a picnic if the weather’s fine.
The great joy of the Old Town is exploring its warren of medieval closes and wynds, so for dinner I’d head to The Devil’s Advocate in Advocate’s Close. It’s a refurbished old Victorian Pump House, with a cosy and atmospheric interior.
The best way to round off the day would be a visit to the Waverley Bar on St Mary’s Street, an Old Town institution in itself, but on the last Friday of the month it also hosts the Guid Crack Club. This is one of Edinburgh’s great storytelling nights, a warm and evocative evening in the convivial company of tall-tale-tellers, poets, writers and singers.