While April may be drawing to a close, there is still plenty to do in Edinburgh. Whether you’re in Edinburgh with a partner, family or even by yourself, this list of activities and events will be sure to give your something to do during your visit.
Trad Fest | 26th April – 7th May
‘TradFest Dùn Èideann’ is a vibrant twelve-day showcase of Scotland’s thriving traditional arts. As 2017 is the year of World Heritage, there will be special events taking place.
Edinburgh is famous for its beauty. It is known around the world for its intricate architecture and unique buildings and streets. You just need to take on look at Edinburgh’s Old Town to figure out why tourists are attracted to the stunningly, well-kept buildings.
However, an often overlooked attribute to Edinburgh’s beauty, are its many gardens.
Princes Street Gardens
Princes Street Gardens is located in the centre of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site, tucked between New Town and Old Town. It is listed in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland and has geological and botanical scientific interest. However, it hasn’t always been a beautiful public garden. No, you see, it has a dark past from when it was known as Nor’ Loch.
Dr Neils Garden, or, Edinburgh’s Secret Garden as it is often referred to, is one of the most stunning gardens in Scotland today. It lays next to the lovely Duddingston Kirk at the foot of Arthurs Seat. You will spend hours admiring the care, dedication and imagination that comes with this garden.
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is one of the finest botanic gardens in the world – and rightly so. The gardens offer its visitors peace and tranquillity as they immerse themselves in the 72-acres of stunning scenery. A visit to these gardens will surely be a treat and pleasure for all the family. But, it’s more than just unusual plants and nature. The Garden also offers fantastic views of the famous Edinburgh skyline, featuring sights such as Edinburgh Castle. You also don’t have to worry about getting a bus, car or tram to this beautiful garden as it is only 1 mile from the city centre and is a lovely walk.
The Royal Botanic Gardens is located near Inverleith which is a short walk from The Howard Hotel
Dunbar’s Close on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh’s Old Town is a hidden gem. The garden has been laid out in the style and character of a 17th-century garden.
Dunbar’s Close is located just off the famous Royal Mile which is a few minutes away from Holyrood ApartHotel
Malleny Gardens is a hidden delight on the outskirts of Edinburgh. It plays host to a luscious 3-acre walled garden set in a landscape of woodland, with colourful herbaceous borders and collections of old roses. You will be able to surround yourself with clipped yew trees planted in the 17th Century along with delightfully scented flowers.
Malleny Gardens is located on the outskirts of Edinburgh. So, if you wish to visit, you will need to arrange transport.
If you’re staying at one of our hotels, we’ll be happy to help arrange this for you.
The story of the spirited explorers once lost hundred-year-old whisky
There is nothing quite like the feeling of finding something valuable that you had previously considered lost, is there? We have all panicked and turned our homes upside down in search for that family heirloom or, for that loose change that slipped out of your pocket.
But this story is not one of loose change or priceless heirlooms. This, for us Scots, is about something much, much more valuable. Whisky.
In the winter of 2007, a team from the New Zealand Antartic Heritage Trust were trying to restore Shackleton’s old hut in the Antarctic. While they were hard at work, in the harsh, unforgiving climate, they found something. Something that none of them would ever have expected to find. The team had accidentally discovered five cases of hundred-year-old McKinelay whisky, belonging to the famed adventurer Shackleton himself. The strange thing was, these cases of whisky were buried apart from the other food and drink rations. So, it is a popular belief that Shackleton was saving them for a celebration. But, why would he leave them behind? Again, it is assumed that in 1909, when Shackleton and his crew were attempting to reach the South Pole, a harsh storm interrupted their challenging, courageous quest. Forcing them to abandon their celebratory whisky, and like loose change, it was thought to be lost for good.
To find the actual whisky of one of the most famous explorers and real man’s man is one thing, to taste it? A whole other experience. Luckily, and remarkably, this was made possible via extracting the whisky. Which, was no easy task. As inevitably, ice had got into the cases, leaving some bottles broken. There was worry that some of the corks could have come into contact with the alcohol, which would have caused it to degenerate. Whyte & MacKay, who bought the Mackinlay, managed to retrieve a sample of the whisky with a syringe and with that the hundred-year-old sample, they were able to find out the ingredients of Shackleton’s chosen whisky and, replicate it.
Unsurprisingly, Whyte & Mackay had a massive
wave of publicity as many Shackleton fans, and Whisky fans eagerly anticipated the release of the whisky. The master blender of the distillery described the find as “a gift from the heavens”.
Only a few people got to taste the whisky as it was only re-released as a very-limited-edition. Which left many asking the question “What did it taste like?” Well, “Cold.” Yes, that was one of the official descriptions of the important, hundred-year-old spirit of a famed adventurer.
Did you know that Ernest Shackleton once lived in one of the townhouses that now makes up Channings Hotel? We have kept some of the original decors and have memorabilia around the hotel.
WHAT SECRETS ARE STORED BETWEEN THE WALLS OF THE FAMOUS FORTRESS?
Scotland has its fair share of old fortresses, but none quite like Edinburgh Castle. What makes Edinburgh Castle so different from the rest is that it is, almost, a living and breathing creature. While St. Mary’s chapel is the only remaining part of the 12th century structure, the other parts have been added throughout the centuries. Giving it that organic feeling to it. Which means, as you know, with life, also comes death – which is all too frequent in old time Edinburgh.
As with most castles. Edinburgh Castle was used as a prison for criminals and political enemies of The Crown. Lore has it that one desperate prisoner escaped into a wheelbarrow full of manure, hoping he would be taken through the front gates to his freedom. This did not happen. He was wheeled to the west port side where the contents of the wheelbarrow were tipped off the edge and he plummeted to the ground, where obviously, he died. To this day, people mention the strong unpleasant smell of manure when they are close to the area, and some even report the uneasy feeling of unseen hands pushing them.
LADY JANET DOUGLAS
Additionally, the castles lower levels, dungeons and dark tunnels have also played host to countless tales of unexplainable experiences. Heavy breathing, knocking, hammering and moans have all been reported in these lower terrains of the fortress. All are said to be connected to Lady Janet Douglas.
In 1528, Janet Douglas was accused of Witchcraft and conspiracy by King James V. All of her family and servants were captured and imprisoned. They were then, one-by-one, brutally tortured in order to force confessions against Ms. Douglas. Who is rumoured to have been locked in a dark room for so long, that she actually turned blind. Throughout all this, carpenters in leather aprons would walk around, crafting the wooden platform from which she was to be burned alive.
2001: A PARANORMAL ODYSSEY
In 2001, a British psychologist named Dr. Richard Wiseman wanted to get to the bottom of these storied and managed get over 200 participants for his, shall we say, unorthodox experiment. These volunteers were then screened. The screening process was in place to try and weed out anyone who may have knowledge of the stories regarding Edinburgh Castle and its haunted past.
After Dr Wiseman had verified all of his volunteers, they set to work. Wiseman and his assistants took small groups of the volunteers on tours of the castle. Now, i said this experiment was unorthodox, what I meant to say was, unethical. Some of the volunteers were actually shut and locked into dark dungeon rooms. Wiseman said this was there opportunity to make ‘personal observations’. No matter how safe it might have been, if you to image that getting locked into a castle dungeon would be pretty traumatic.
One woman reported that her experience was filled with odd, unexplainable experiences. Heavy breathing, which moved closer and closer to her the longer she was in the room (traumatic, right?). Others hear voices and saw shadowy figures. One group unanimously said that they has seen a man walk slowly at the end of a tunnel. They said he was dressed in old fashioned clothing and wore something strange over his torso.
It was a leather carpenter’s apron.
In conclusion, there’s something about castles. Big strong structures capable of withholding even the darkest of secrets. Few castles were built to the same standards of the modern home. Whether it be a dark dungeon or the bricked up body of a victim. The strong walls of a castle can act like the dungeons many of them are famous for, holding in years of suffering, tragedy and death.
THIS EDINBURGH WALKING GUIDE PUTS THE KING INTO WALKING.
Our Edinburgh walking guide will ensure you make the most of your visit. Edinburgh is one of the best cities to explore by foot. You’ll discover magic and get a fright.
From little local cafes and underground bars to hidden gardens and historic graveyards. The hidden gems of Edinburgh are best explored by walking. One of our favourite walks is along Queensferry Street into the West End of Edinburgh, taking around 15 minutes the walk explores some of the best hidden, undiscovered parts of Edinburgh and leads you right into the heart of the city, ending with spectacular views of Edinburgh castle and perhaps a walk through St Cuthbert’s churchyard.
After a fresh, expertly prepared breakfast at Shackleton’s Bar & Brasserie we suggest checking out some of these key points as you make your way into the heart of Edinburgh City.
To start the Edinburgh walking guide we take you to by far one of the best hidden gems in Edinburgh, Dean Village and garden. You will find them located just under Dean Bridge on the stroll in to West End. Take a slight detour and you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back into Victorian Edinburgh. The warren of ancient cobbled streets create a sleepy yet beautiful atmosphere. Wandering through Dean Village and along the Water of Leith walkway you’ll meet an array of wildlife, from families of ducks to heron and enjoy the truly magical atmosphere of ancient, undiscovered Edinburgh.
Assuming you’ve stayed at one of our fantastic hotels you will have already enjoyed a delicious breakfast. Now it’s time for a well-deserved mid-morning pastry! The delightfully Swedish Soderberg Bakery has a few venues around Edinburgh, though the charm of their West End branch is undeniable. Slightly smaller than some of their other locations the West End Soderberg is warm, intimate and perfect for that mid-morning baked treat! Their specialty coffee comes from Johan & Nystrom whose Stockholm Café was named by The Telegraph as one of the best in the world. We recommend their delicious cinnamon and cardamom buns, or if you’re visiting in the afternoon take home one of their freshly prepared sour dough loaves, or fresh soup or salad for dinner.
At the very end of Princes Street, hidden among trees just underneath the castle. Lays perhaps one of the most beautiful Churchyards in Edinburgh. St Cuthbert’s Church was built in 1892, however there is evidence of at least 6 earlier churches on the grounds. The rich history provided by the grounds makes it a perfect place to experience the peaceful, tranquil and eerie atmosphere of Edinburgh. Additionally, it is a great place to start your walk along the beautiful Princes Street Gardens.
No Edinburgh walking guide would be complete without Princes Street Gardens. These luscious green gardens provide a stunning tranquil atmosphere. The gardens also provide some of the most spectacular views of Edinburgh Castle. It’s hard to imagine that Princes Street Gardens were once a place of witch trials and waste dumping. Luckily for us there is little trace of the areas dark history. Now the gardens are a favourite for tourists and locals. A place to relax and take in the vibrant city atmosphere. Previously to it’s renaming to Princes Street Gardens, the site was names Nor Loch. Read about it’s less than green history here.
In conclusion, Edinburgh is a city best explored by foot. With hidden gardens, cobbled streets, ancient alleyways and beautiful churches just waiting to be found. Edinburgh’s rich history can only truly be discovered by meandering the streets. Where you will start uncovering your own secret gems. Our advice is to read and re-read this Edinburgh walking guide and make sure you put aside a little time during your stay to walk the wonderful, historic streets of Edinburgh.