Are you going to Tour Scotland?


Blog

Scotland Travel Blog July 2018

"Backstreet Edinburgh" 

Edinburgh is a wonderful city to explore with lots of gems to be discovered in unexpected places. Whilst cities like Paris have beauty in their grand avenues and striking monuments, the beauty of Edinburgh is often to be found on a smaller scale and hidden away on a backstreet. 

Dean Village - Not such a secret as the other places on this list and it does get a mention in most guidebooks, however Dean Village doesn’t see much tourist traffic and is such a pretty place that we have to give it a mention here.

If you need to escape from the crowds, Dean village is a peaceful riverside refuge just a 15 - 20 minute walk from the bustle of Princes Street in the city centre. The village originates from the 11th century and was once home to a cluster of watermills that would have ground the grain grown by local farmers. Only one of the original mills remains, and that building was converted into residential flats in the 1970’s, but there is still a distinct “village” feeling to this Edinburgh suburb, The village ambience is enhanced by the the fact that you are  in a small valley that is largely hidden from the surrounding city by mature trees. The riverside setting is so peaceful that a family of otters have even taken up residence here.

Dean Village on the Water of Leith

 

Circus Lane - From Dean Village, you can follow the Water of Leith walkway downstream to Stockbridge where you find our next backstreet surprise. Stockbridge is one of the more affluent suburbs of Edinburgh and it boasts a great collection of restaurants and pubs with a very cosmopolitan vibe. It’s a good place to head if you want  a bit of nightlife, but it is also where you find one of the city’s prettiest streets.

Circus Lane was built in the first half of the 1800’s when the “New Town” was still expanding northwards from Queen Street Gardens. The cottages originally being stable blocks serving the wealthy families who were buying up the “Des-Res” properties in the New Town. Leap forward  200 years and it is now the stable blocks that are the “Des-Res” properties with some Circus Lane cottages commanding prices of £500K.

Circus Lane in Edinburgh

 

Bakehouse Close - I hesitated to include this in the list as Aurelia has just told me that this little alleyway on the Royal Mile was used in the filming of the “print shop” scene in  “Outlander” and is now getting a lot more attention from tourists. I have to admit, I’ve never watched the “Outlander” series and have no idea what the “print shop scene” is. Anyway, even if it is now part of the "Outlander" pilgimage trail, it is still a historically interesting place worth exploring.

If you walk down the Royal Mile from the castle towards Holyroodhouse Palace, you have lots of options to detour and explore rambling alleyways and narrow closes. It is easy to see how this part of Edinburgh inspired J.K. Rowling’s image of “Diagon Alley”. At the top end of the Royal Mile you will find that most of alleys are busy with people traversing from Princes Street to the Royal Mile, but as you venture down the Royal Mile it becomes less touristy and the side streets tend to be used much less as thoroughfares. As a result, most visitors overlook “Bakehouse Close” with its 16th century tenement and 17th century bakery.

Bakehouse Close is easy to find as it is located just beside the Museum of Edinburgh, which is a traditional style of museum with lots of exhibits in glass display cabinets, but well worth a visit in its own right. By the way, this picture of Bakehouse Close was taken by us in 2006, long before the “Outlander Effect" came to Scotland, so don’t expect it to be so quiet nowadays.

Bakehouse Close just off the Royal Mile

 

Barclay Viewforth Church - This is not so much of a back street location as thousands of people will drive past this building everyday, but unless you view the church from Bruntsfield Links you really won’t appreciate how quirky it is. The reason that we give the church a mention here is that we reckon it has to have given J.K.Rowling some ideas for her descriptions of Hogwarts School. As you can see from the picture below, Barclay Viewforth Church is a wonderfully over the top piece of Gothic architecture from the 1860’s.

The design of the church was not straightforward as it stands on quite a small plot of land and a conventional shaped church wouldn’t work with the footprint, As a result, architects were invited to compete for the best design and the winning design was done by a young architect, Frederick Pilkington, who had no previous church designs to his name. It wasn’t a universally popular choice and Frederick received so much criticism that he never repeated such a bold design again. However, fans of the Harry Potter movies will almost certainly be appreciative of the distinctive melee of towers, turrets and angular rooflines.

Barclay Viewforth Church

 

Dr Neil’s Garden - If you can’t be bothered to climb to the summit of Arthur’s Seat, you could instead take a gentler wander around the base of the hill to the sleepy suburb of Duddingston. There are several good reasons to make the effort to get here. First of all it has the excellent Sheep Heid Inn, which claims to have been established in 1360, although the existing building is not that old. Regardless of the accuracy of its claim to be the oldest pub in Scotland, it is a great wee pub with lots of character and the unusual attraction of a skittle / bowling alley that dates from Victorian times. Not far away from the pub is an 18th century building known as "Bonnie Prince Charlie's Cottage" as it was here that he met with his "Council of War" before the Battle of Prestonpans where the Jacobites thoroughly defeated the British Army in one of the first major battles of the 1745 Rebellion. It is more than likely that Charlie and quite a few of his Jacobite troops enjoyed the hospitality of the Sheep Heid Inn.

Sign for Sheep Heid Inn (Established 1360)

 

If you can pull yourselves away from the pub, you will find that Duddingston also has a charming little church that dates back to the 12th century and just beside the church is Dr Neil’s Garden. This garden is a special haven of tranquility that was created through the passion of Dr Nancy and Andrew Neil. This patch of land was just a piece of scrub ground until 1963 when Nancy and Andrew started an ambitious project to create this beautiful garden with help from some of their patients.

Duddingston Kirk

 

Thanks to the garden’s setting, with Duddingston loch to the west and Arthur’s seat glimpsed between the branches of mature conifers, you can easily imagine that you have been transported from Edinburgh to somewhere in the Scottish Highlands.

View of Arthurs Seat from Dr Neil's Garden

Duddingston Loch

More Articles ...

  1. Scotland Travel Blog June 2018
  2. Scotland Travel Blog May 2018
  3. Scotland Travel Blog April 2018
  4. Scotland Travel Blog March 2018
  5. Scotland Travel Blog October 2017
  6. Scotland Travel Blog September 2017
  7. Scotland Travel Blog August 2017
  8. Scotland Travel Blog July 2017
  9. Scotland Travel Blog June 2017
  10. Scotland Travel Blog April 2017
  11. Scotland Travel Blog March 2017
  12. Scotland Travel Blog February 2017
  13. Scotland Travel Blog December 2016
  14. Scotland Travel Blog November 2016
  15. Scotland Travel Blog October 2016
  16. Scotland Travel Blog September 2016
  17. Scotland Travel Blog August 2016
  18. Scotland Travel Blog July 2016
  19. Scotland Travel Blog May 2016
  20. Scotland Travel Blog March 2016
  21. Scotland Travel Blog February 2016
  22. Scotland Travel Blog November 2015
  23. Scotland Travel Blog September 2015
  24. Scotland Travel Blog August 2015
  25. Scotland Travel Blog July 2015
  26. Scotland Travel Blog June 2015
  27. Scotland Travel Blog May 2015
  28. Scotland Travel Blog April 2015
  29. Scotland Travel Blog March 2015
  30. Scotland Travel Blog February 2015
  31. Scotland Travel Blog January 2015
  32. Scotland Travel Blog December 2014
  33. Scotland Travel Blog October 2014
  34. Scotland Travel Blog September 14
  35. Scotland Travel Blog July 2014
  36. Scotland Travel Blog June 2014
  37. Scotland Travel Blog February 2014
  38. Scotland Travel Blog December 2013
  39. Scotland Travel Blog November 2013
  40. Scotland Travel Blog October 2013
  41. Scotland Travel Blog September 2013
  42. Scotland Travel Blog July 2013
  43. Scotland Travel Blog June 2013
  44. Scotland Travel Blog April 2013
  45. Scotland Travel Blog February 2013
  46. Scotland Travel Blog January 2013
  47. Scotland Travel Blog December 2012
  48. Scotland Travel Blog October 2012
  49. Scotland Travel Blog August 2012
  50. Scotland Travel Blog July 2012
  51. Scotland Travel Blog May 2012
  52. Scotland Travel Blog April 2012
  53. Scotland Travel Blog March 2012
  54. Scotland Travel Blog January 2012
  55. Scotland Travel Blog November 11
  56. Scotland Travel Blog September 11 - The Orkneys
  57. Scotland Travel Blog August 11
  58. Scotland Travel Blog July 11
  59. Scotland Travel Blog June 11
  60. Scotland Travel Blog April 11
  61. Scotland Travel Blog March 11
  62. Scotland Travel Blog February 11
  63. Scotland Travel Blog December 10
  64. Scotland Travel Blog October 10
  65. Scotland Travel Blog August 10
  66. Scotland Travel Blog July 10
  67. Scotland Travel Blog June 10
  68. Scotland Travel Blog May 10
  69. Scotland Travel Blog April 10
  70. Scotland Travel Blog March 10
  71. Scotland Travel Blog January 10
  72. Scotland Travel Blog December 09
  73. Scotland Travel Blog November 09
  74. Scotland Travel Blog October 09
  75. Scotland Travel Blog September 09
  76. Scotland Travel Blog August 09
  77. Scotland Travel Blog July 09
  78. Scotland Travel Blog June 09
  79. Scotland Travel Blog May 09
  80. Scotland Travel Blog April 09
  81. Scotland Travel Blog March 09
  82. Scotland Travel Blog February 09
  83. Scotland Travel Blog September 08
  84. Scotland Travel Blog November 08
  85. Scotland Travel Blog August 08
  86. Scotland Travel Blog July 08
  87. Scotland Travel Blog June 08
  88. Scotland Travel Blog April 08
  89. Scotland Travel Blog March 08
  90. Scotland Travel Blog February 08
  91. Scotland Travel Blog January 08
  92. Scotland Travel Blog December 07
  93. Scotland Travel Blog November 07
  94. Scotland Travel Blog October 07
  95. Scotland Travel Blog September 07
  96. Scotland Travel Blog August 07
  97. Scotland Travel Blog July 07
  98. Scotland Travel Blog June 07
  99. Scotland Travel Blog May 07
  100. Scotland Travel Blog April 07
  101. Scotland Travel Blog March 07
  102. Scotland Travel Blog February 07
  103. Scotland Travel Blog January 07
PlayVideo

Browse Scotland Tours

Browse Our Scotland Tours to find an Itinerary for a route that matches your interests and schedule.

To quickly and easily find the tour you want, use our Tour Wizard.

Customized Tours

Tell us what you want and we will create a Customized Scotland Tour just for you!

Money Back Guarantee

Full refund if you are not satisfied with our service.

Testimonials

Read what Clients say about Secret Scotland on Facebook, Tripadvisor and in their Blogs

View Testimonials

Good Stuff

Save 10% on Car Hire when you Buy a Secret Scotland Tour

More about Car Hire Discounts

Authored on Google+