Edinburgh and the Hilly City.
To beat those January blues I decided the best course of action was to book a little weekend getaway to Edinburgh. Only 3 hours from Manchester by train, we took a boozy little picnic for Friday night dinner.
We arrived at 21:30 and luckily our hotel was minutes away from the station. We stayed at the Premier Inn Hub, a scaled down version of your regular travel inn at a fraction of the cost. Check in was done via computer and super simple and the room was small but very modern. After a quick freshen up we went out for a well deserved drink…ending up in the Whiski bar where three young Scotsmen sang traditional songs to the enchanted crowd.
From here we headed across the bridge from old town to new and went into the Conan Doyle pub, near where the famous Sherlock writer was born.
There wasn’t much in the way of Conan Doyle related stuff in there but it was fun to sit and enjoy a wee dram of whiskey!
The next day we walked down the royal mile to the Scottish parliament building. Finished in 2004 it’s an impressive post-modernist structure. Though we couldn’t get too close. One wall had famous Scottish quotes all over it which was cool.
A short walk from here was Holyrood Palace, the Scottish residence of the British monarchy….A stately home dating back to the 17th century.
Next up was what I thought was a 20 minute or so walk up to Arthur’s Seat…an extinct volcano top overlooking the Scottish countryside and Edinburgh itself.
The walk was beautiful with the ground covered in frost but it definitely took us a lot longer than 20 minutes and got quite steep at times. However, halfway up and the views were already looking good.
We could see right out to the North Sea and the morning mist added an ethereal vibe to the whole place. We reached the top and enjoyed the stunning views.
It was absolutely gorgeous so we took our time up there before heading back down a gentler path into the city. We walked back up the royal mile towards the castle…the old town is picturesque with it’s old stone buildings and little alleyways or ‘Wynds’ branching off the main street.
We walked all the way up to the castle and took in more views of the city from up there, since it was a lovely day we decided to carry on walking and save the castle interior for if it rained.
We wandered down one of the little alleyways and found a small museum on the famous writers/poets of Scottish history. The flagstones beneath our feet had different writers and quotes from them engraved into the stone which was really interesting.
The alley sloped down onto a main road and we crossed the valley separating old town from new and stopped for coffee and cake in the new part of the city.
After resting our legs we wandered up through the posh part of the city to the ‘new’ town which was actually just slightly newer than the old town with it’s private gardens and big town houses.
From here we took the main thoroughfare up towards calton hill. On our way we stopped off at a high walled graveyard as the clouds darkened the sky we strolled past old tombs and moss covered graves. It was all very creepy and got us ready for our ghost tour later.
It wasn’t long till we were up on to the next hill with views over the city and it’s chimneys throwing smoke out into the sky with orange glints of light between buildings. Up here we could see over to Arthur’s seat and there was information on the volcanic nature of it and the hill the castle was built upon. There were a few bits to see up here so we walked around the summit before descending back down into the capital.
After all the sightseeing it was time to eat so we had a quick relax and change of clothes in the hotel and walked back up the main street through the old town to the mussel inn.
I had done some research and this place sounded really good with a good mix of local scottish dishes, I had a crab lasagne to start which was incredible and Peter had scallops which were also really good. For mains Peter had a huge Scottish steak and I had a steaming bowl of mussels in cream and whisky…a lot of whisky! It was all really tasty and we had a bottle of wine to prepare for the ghost tour.
By the time dinner had finished it was dark and very cold out as we went quietly through the streets to the meeting point. Here we met our guide who took us round the old town regaling us with tales of ghosts and ghouls that haunt the streets of Edinburgh I also got to play a part in the proceedings! Then we were taken down into the catacombs underneath the city and explored the candle lit rooms with warnings of malevolent spirits all around us. It was a lot of fun and really worth doing, we even got a dram of whiskey at the end…sat round a small room with more ghost stories being told.
We needed a beer after that and to get out of the cold once we were topside so we did a pub crawl down the main old town street which incorporated a pub selling drams of whiskey for hundreds of pounds, a raucous pub with Scots singing, cheering and stamping their feet and a live band singing every song with a thick Scottish accent.
We eventually found ourselves back at the hotel and stumbled up to bed.