My favourite capital city – Edinburgh

‘Look at that impressive Manor house,’ the lady sitting opposite me announced as she pointed out the train window.

I was fortunate enough to be sitting with an elderly couple from New Zealand. The three of us enjoyed spotting out landmarks as the train journeyed from London to Edinburgh.

We passed through York Station and admired it’s architecture. The royal crest is present on the arches that tower over the tracks.Apparently in New Zealand, English TV is very popular. The couple told me how much they love Grand Designs and Coronation Street!

We passed Berwick-upon-Tweed which has changed hands 12 times between Scotland and England. Currently it is part of England. We then entered Scotland and were greeted with spectacular coastal views.

The four and a half hour journey went by quickly. Arriving in Edinburgh I bade farewell to my new friends and found my Airbnb. Dropping off my luggage, I ventured out for a walk.

With no particular plan in mind, I roamed the stunning streets of Edinburgh. Local brick work had been used to build quaint flats and homes.

Before long I found myself in what seemed to be the countryside. However, I was still very close to the city center. A carpet of yellow gorse covered the hills surrounding me. I was climbing Arthur’s seat – Edinburgh’s highest peak, which is indeed an extinct volcano.The higher up I got the more impressive the views became. Being a sunny Sunday there were lots of people out and about. Mounting the top I took a pew.

‘This is the icing on the cake,’ a passerby said to me. ‘Sure is,’ I replied. Edinburgh has the best of both worlds: great walks and a fun city life.On the way down I stopped by an odd ruin dating back to the 14th Century. It was once a chapel. People were flying a drone above it, which was making a terrible rumbling noise.I strolled back to my Airbnb to get some dinner on the go. I was to spend the week working in Edinburgh where my boss is based.

Getting to the office in Gogarburn was delightful. I hopped on the tram which took 20/30 minutes from Princes Street. Looking out of the window I saw the great outdoors. This made a pleasant change from the usual dark tunnel otherwise known as the tube. In the far distance beyond the houses I could see dramatic hills.

The journey was half the price of my commute in London. A return in Edinburgh cost £3.20. I certainly was getting value for money.

In the evenings there was plenty to do in Edinburgh.

Here is what I got up to:

Portobello beach

I took the bus from York Place (in Edinburgh town) to Portobello beach.Sitting on the beach watching the waves wash in was relaxing. Not bad for a Monday evening. The bus cost £1.70 each way. Make sure to have the exact change as conductors don’t accept notes or card.

Pub with colleagues

There are lots of lively pubs, bars and restaurants to check out. Wander the streets and find one which suits you.

Fitness meet up

For two hours from 6.00 pm until 8.00 pm every Wednesday a fitness walking session takes place in Edinburgh. It is organised on Meetup.com and run by a lovely gentleman. As long as you sign up beforehand anyone is welcome. It is a wonderful way to see the city while expelling energy. Plus the group is super friendly.

We started the walk at Charlotte Square, from there we walked through houses and along a canal. Next we passed through the meadows.Then we walked up half of Arthur’s seat.Descending Arthur’s seat we made it to the Queen’s Palace. From the queen’s Palace you can walk along the Royal Mile to Edinburgh castle. We didn’t have time to do this but it is highly recommend. Read more here.

Instead we hiked up Carlton Hill which has spectacular city views.

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The two hour walk was very fast paced. We got in a good 10 km.Capture.PNG

Water of Leith footpath

I walked along the gorgeous trail from Edinburgh New Town to Leith.In Leith I enjoyed a barbecue at my friend’s workshop. He makes skilful swords. At the gathering there were other craftspeople and owners of shops. It was interesting hear their challenges. Apparently consumers want up-cycled furniture (old 60’s pieces that have been painted/polished) opposed to newly made items. At first I thought this was really refreshing to hear.

However, it caused the makers concern. Especially as they sustainably source their materials. Plus they do use off-cuts. The more I thought about it the more unfair it seemed. These kind folk were just trying to make a living. The wood they were using was from felled, local trees. It’s not like they were deforesting huge areas to get their resources. Surely, we should be supporting local businesses and buying locally crafted goods.

South Queensbury

A 30 minute train ride out of Edinburgh is South Queensbury, a quaint town with a small beach area. It is well known for it’s iron bridge – Fourth Bridge built 125 years ago. Before I knew it Friday was over. I had utilised very evening! My train back to London wasn’t until Sunday so I had one and a half days to do as much exploring as possible….

Saturday Day trip to the Pentlands

I joined another walking meet up, this one in the Pentlands. The starting point was the number 44 bus terminal, located on Cockburn Cresent.

I arrived at 10 am keen to explore the countryside. Again the meetup group was extremely friendly and the leader very knowledgeable about the area.The Pentlands are picturesque.At one point a group of horse riders trotted by.Other than them we didn’t encounter many others. The area was peaceful.It was hard to believe we were so close to Edinburgh – a capital city.

This is why I love Edinburgh. You don’t have to venture far for great walks. Plus everything you need is readily available as it is a city.

The walk took a good part of the day finishing at 6pm. We had covered a grand 17 miles.The next day I had the morning to explore. I visited the Botanical Gardens, which are delightful.Following this I went to Scottish national portrait gallery. The building is fantastic and the art interesting.

On the train back to London I reflected on all I had done in the wonderful city. There was still more that I wanted to see. This will have to wait for next time.

Who else has visited Edinburgh? If so what is your favourite thing to do there?

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