Monday, 25 June 2012

My Edinburgh Experience

Princes Street from Calton Hill
Yes, it is June and supposedly summer although, as everyone in the UK agrees, wind and rain is not summer weather.  But for my few days in Edinburgh the weather was benign.  A few light showers on one day but otherwise pleasant for walking.  There are hop-on-hop-off tours available for those with mobility problems or with limited time and making their first trip to Scotland's capital. The rest of us wear out our shoe leather.

My first time in Edinburgh was in the late 1960s when I lived there for a short time.  In those days traffic was not a problem.  You could drive from home to the office and park the car for free!  Now traffic in Edinburgh is the same as any large city - far too much of it. 

To ease congestion between Waverley Station and the airport a tram system is being installed. Obviously residents and shopkeepers are unhappy with the road works that this entails, but tourists take it in their stride.  Once the work is complete and the trams glide along Princes Street everyone will be happy.

But, back to 'what I did on my holiday' - to paraphrase the teachers' favourite post-summer holiday essay subject.
The National Monument on Calton Hill.

I didn't go to Edinburgh Castle or Holyroodhouse Palace as I know them well.  This time it was an occasion to visit old haunts and do something I had never before done but always promised myself I would.  I climbed Calton Hill, once (like the hill where the castle is located) a volcano and where the monuments are.  Actually it isn't as bad as it sounds as, after climbing the first few steps off Waterloo Place, I then followed the gently sloping path that winds its way around the hill.

From the north side are fantastic views of the Firth of Forth across to Fife.  In other directions can be seen the castle, Princes Street, Holyroodhouse Palace and Arthur's Seat (another volcanic hill).  On Calton Hill are the Nelson Monument, the National Monument (in honour of the soldiers killed in the Napoleonic wars), Rock House (home of the 19th century photographer David Octavius Hill) and the former City Observatory.

My old haunts included the Royal Botanic Gardens and the street called Grassmarket.  My memories of the latter were of a large open space with pubs and a few shops. Now there are several restaurants and, in the centre, is an area set aside for open air dining, seats for relaxation and plenty of trees.  A definite improvement.

I will write some articles to post on  ( - a case of 'watch that space'!  There are already some articles on the site about Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Yacht Britannia (moored at Leith docks) and the Queen Mum Memorial Garden (plus other garden areas of Edinburgh).

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