Edinburgh, the capital City of Scotland is located to the south of the Firth of Forth. It is one of the finest cities in Europe; a relatively small City with buildings of real grandeur. The mediaeval High Street runs from Edinburgh Castle, atop an ancient volcanic plug, down to Holyrood Palace, the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II. The Palace is largely 17th Century with an earlier 16th Century tower, whilst the Castle dates from the 12th to the 16th Centuries. To the north is one of Europe’s finest classical urban areas, the New Town.
Edinburgh is blessed with many fine open parks and gardens. The most important are Princes Street gardens and the Royal Botanic Garden. www.rbge.org.uk
The Edinburgh Festival, perhaps the best known arts festival in the world, was established in 1947 and runs for 3 weeks in August. Now the Edinburgh Tattoo and numerous other festivals span the whole of the summer from early July till mid-September. The annual Christmas festival and Hogmanay dominate late December. www.edinburghfestivalcity.com
There are four universities with a large number of overseas students.
In the early 17th Century, Leith was an independent burgh surrounded by fortification walls. Built around the Water of Leith it served as a trading port for the capital, Edinburgh. The river, running into the Firth of Forth, was tidal and navigable by large ships and was the most important harbour in Scotland. Leith was not only Edinburgh’s only harbour but it was the gateway to Scotland and Scotland’s busiest port. Indeed, well into the twentieth century Leith was a major trading port exporting coal, grain, wool, fish, hides, and various other goods and returning with spices, cloth, whale oil, tea and coffee, tobacco, brandy, genever and wine. Important trades were located in Leith. These included saw mills, flour and meal mills, sugar refineries, engineering works, breweries, distilleries and bottling plants. Ship building, cement making, colour making, leather manufacture, rope, twine and sail making. Coopering, tanning, brass cloth weaving and chemical works. Glass making, soap making, lime juice making, ginger beer making, vinegar making and biscuit making. All these industries were dependent on the river and the old harbour.
Several of the Scottish monarchs landed at the old harbour. In the 15th Century King James l built Kings Wark as a royal residence, arsenal, warehouses and dwellings for officials only 100 metres from Lamb’s House. Mary of Guise, the Queen Regent, ruled Scotland from her palace in Leith a few metres up the river. Mary Queen of Scots arrived here in 1561 from France and ‘supped in Andrew Lamb’s House’. Later Charles I, Charles ll, George lV and Queen Victoria visited Leith.
There are a wealth of local grocers and delis within minutes from The Pavilion, including Sainsbury’s on Bernard Street; The Shore Deli Co, and Fazeli’s Deli on Constitution Street and Relish Deli on Commercial Street
Leith has a long tradition of pub and bars. A few we would recommend are Malt and Hops; The Shore (traditional fare) and Sofi’s Bar (Swedish) on Henderson Street; Roseleaf, Sandport Place (allows children); Bond no 9 on Commercial Street and Nobles Bar on Constitution Street
There are a large number of wonderful places to eat in Leith, many enjoying great views out over the Water of Leith.
Along the river from Sandport Bridge: Café Truva (Turkish); Mimi’s Bakehouse; Martin Wishart, a Michelin Star restaurant; Pizza Express; King’s Wark, which serves a excellent selection of fresh fish; The Granary; The Ship on the Shore; The Shore, which features wonderful open fires; Fishers and Malmaison Hotel.
Others on the south side: Tapa on Shore Place (Spanish); The Vintage on Henderson Street, a very trendy and contemporary setting; Plumed Horse on Henderson Street, which holds three Michelin rosettes.
North Side: A Room in Leith and Teuchter’s Landing on Dock Place with outside sitting by the water; Guilianos (Italian), Guchhi (Indian tapas), Domenico's (Italian), The Kitchen, a Michelin Star restaurant, Bistro Provence (French) and La Camargue on Commercial Street (French).
Local walks and cycle paths
The The Water of Leith walk and cycle way is a beautiful, wide 12 3/4 mile path through the heart of Edinburgh. Originating at the Old Harbour in Leith the path passes through the attractive Dean Village area of Edinburgh terminating at Balerno. www.waterofleith.org.uk.
Walking and cycling paths created from the old railway system link several parks in the area.
Leith has a range of cycle paths, both along the river and the old railways, linking several parks and play parks. It is possible to rent bicycles and equipment from Leith Cycle, 276 Leith Walk. www.leithcycleco.com. Telephone: 0131 467 7775. Hire starts from £12 for half a day and includes a helmet, lock, map and a puncture repair kit.
The old part of Leith has some of the finest buildings in the city. ‘A walk through Leith’ by John Hume, a copy of which is in the house will provide the visitor with a great insight into the local architecture.
Ocean Terminal is a shopping centre within 10 minutes’ walk or a few minutes on the bus and free parking. There are restaurants and coffee shops with views over the Forth, clothes stores, Boots, M&S Simply Food, phone shop etc. as well as Vue Cinema.
The Royal Yacht Britannia is berthed beside the terminal. www.oceanterminal.com
Scotland is a mecca for golfers. The modern game of golf originated in Scotland in the early 16th Century. The first mention of Golf in Leith dates from 1554. Since then the game has spread and many of the world’s best and most famous courses are in or in the vicinity of Edinburgh. The world famous Old Course at St Andrew is an hour and a half’s drive but much closer are the 17 excellent courses in East Lothian, including Muirfield, rated the best course in the UK. There are also 7 courses in Edinburgh.
Scotland’s national drink, whisky, is still distilled close to Edinburgh in the Glenkinchie Distillery in Pencaitland. The Scotch Whisky Experience, a whisky visitor centre, is located on Castlehill, just down from Edinburgh castle and offers daily tours where you will learn about the story behind the drink, the process of its creation and finish up by sampling some whisky itself. The Scotch Whisky Experience also has an excellent restaurant and bar with hundreds of whiskies on offer. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, which offers regular tasting sessions, is located in the Vaults, one of Scotland’s oldest buildings, only a few minutes’ walk from Lamb’s House.