For exclusive Scottish tours, email or visit my website.

Walking Tour of Edinburgh, Scotland

Friday, April 02, 2010

Today, we had enjoyable walking tour of Edinburgh, capital of Scotland. Weather was incredibly benign with an unseasonal combination of blue skies, sunshine and snow capped hills in the distance.

We commenced at the Grassmarket and then walked up to the Royal Mile. En-route we encountered this gentleman collecting for charity. He proved to be a former WW2 soldier with experience in the North African desert attached to an Australian unit.

Here is a view from the castle looking over Edinburgh to the snow covered Pentland Hills to the south.
This is the entrance to Edinburgh Castle and location of the world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Edinburgh castle is built on the plug of a volcanic plug. The current castle dates from the 11th century but on the site of fortifications which date back much earlier. We joined a guided tour which took us around the key aspects of this famous monument, finishing in the centre where we went to visit the Scottish National War Memorial and the Crown Room where the Honours of Scotland (regalia comprising crown, sceptre, sword, other items and the coronation Stone of Scone can be viewed.
Re-enactment period actors in the Great Hall

Another view from the castle with the Pentland Hills in the distance.

After visiting the Castle we strolled down the Royal Mile looking at key sites before visiting St. Giles Cathedral which is also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh and dates form the 12th century. Inside, in addition to the stunning features and contents we also visited the chapel dedicated to the Knights of the Thistle, Scotland's chief order of chivalry. The chapel was opened in 1911 and is richly endowed with carved wood panelling.
Inside St. Giles Cathedral
About half way down the Royal Mile is the World's End Pub. In medieval times Edinburgh was a walled city and this is where the boundaries of the city were established. To the inhabitants of the day, this is where their world ended.

This is Chessel's Court which dates from 1748, so named because it was built by Archibald Chessel. The building on the right was the first real hotel in Scotland. The buildings were restored in 1958-67.
This is the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament. This building was constructed to house the devolved Scottish Administration and opened in 2004. Eventual cost was some 8-10 times original budget and the exterior architecture (designed by Enric Miralles of Spain) has proved somewhat controversial.
Here is the National Monument on Calton Hill with some choreography in process. This was modelled on the Parthenon in Athens and intended as a tribute to the dead of the Napoleonic wars but was left incomplete when funding dried up in 1829.

Our final visit was to Charlotte Square at the end of George Street. Charlotte Square is part of Edinburgh's New Town which, as a concept, dates from 1766. Charlotte Square was completed in 1820 to designs by famous Scots architect, Robert Adam. Queen Charlotte was wife of King George III. In Charlotte Square we visited the Georgian House, a building dating from 1796 and fully restored to its original Georgian grandeur by the National Trust for Scotland. There is a good introductory film providing a useful insight into daily life in the Georgian era.
After this visit we walked back to the hotel in Grassmarket via the New Town.This concluded a rewarding day exploring Edinburgh.


posted by Catswhiskers @ 1:17 PM  0 comments


Post a Comment

Tour from Edinburgh, Scotland.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Today, the weather in east of Scotland was bright, clear but still relatively cold after taking into account the windchill.

Collected guest at the Grassmarket in Edinburgh Old Town. Here is an image of the Grassmarket which lies in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle.

After a quick shopping trip in Princes Street, we drove a few miles south to the village of Roslin. Here is the famous (especially post Da Vinci Code book and film) Rosslyn Chapel which dates from the 15th century. This incredible, intensively carved structure, took some 40 years to complete under sponsorship of the St. Clair family under whose control the building remains to this day. We were able to climb up the walkway to the roof to observe the repairs in process and admire the snow covered scenery reflecting in the sunshine.

Here is a view of the village of Roslin taken from the roof of Rosslyn Chapel

Masons at work repairing the fabric of the Chapel.

After a spot of lunch in Rosslyn we drove on, to Glenkinchie Whisky Distillery (see image at foot of this post). At Glenkinchie we joined the standard tour explaining the malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation process of the product which is Scotland's national drink and leading export product.

At Glenkinchie there was still evidence of the recent heavy snow falls in the area some of which had started to melt resulting in localised flooding.

Next we drove on, first to the historic town of Haddington. At one stage Haddington held the biggest grain market in Scotland. The town boast fine buildings and a working mill.

Next we drove to the pretty village of Dirleton with its famous castle. After some photo opps we headed back to Edinburgh tracking the coast of the Firth of Forth and observing the snow capped hills in Fife across the Firth.

This image shows the village green at Dirleton.
This is the Dovecote connected to Dirleton Castle. In medieval times pigeons were an important source of food.

Perhaps the key memory from today will be the unusual (and unseasonal) combination of sunshine and snow covered scenery.

Weather forecast bodes well for our tour of Edinburgh tomorrow.

Here is Glenkinchie Distillery.


posted by Catswhiskers @ 11:28 AM  0 comments


Post a Comment

Royal High School, Edinburgh, Scotland

Saturday, November 21, 2009

This evening, I am focusing on one aspect of Edinburgh's intriguing and diverse architecture.

The building shown in the video clip below is the front of the Royal High School which is located close to the Calton Hill 'Athens of the North' skyline and may have been designed to blend in with the Acropolis theme.

The Royal High School was designed by Thomas Hamilton and built during during the period 1825-29.

It is a building of international renown and at one time was considered a candidate to house the Scottish Parliament.

The central Doric temple contains the splendid oval hall ( possible debating chamber) with shallow, coffered ceiling and cast iron columns supporting the balcony.

This building is not open to the public.



posted by Catswhiskers @ 9:46 AM  0 comments


Post a Comment

Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland

Sunday, November 15, 2009

This evening, I am posting information on one of Edinburgh's top visitor attractions, namely the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This is conveniently located at foot of the Royal Mile and close to other attractions including the Scottish Parliament and Calton Hill.

Holyroodhouse is a working royal palace and official residence of the British monarch in Scotland.

The Palace originated as a guest house for visitors to the Abbey of Holyrood which was founded as an Augustinian abbey in 1128 by King David I of Scotland (1124-53).

James IV (1488-1513) instigated the conversion of the lodgings into a palace and suitable home for his bride, Margaret Tudor. Extensions and embellishments were undertaken during the reign of James V (1513-42). The palace is closely associated with events surrounding Mary, Queen of Scots short reign during the period 1542-67 including the murder of Mary's secretary, David Rizzio.

Mary's son, James VI (1567-1625) took up residence and instigated further improvements. Anne of Denmark was crowned in the abbey in 1590. However, after James VI assumed the English crown and moved to London the palace diminished in importance. During the English civil war the palace was used as a barracks by Cromwell's troops and suffered damage by fire. Restoration of the palace occurred under Charles II (1660-85) using the services of Scottish architect, Sir William Bruce and the result is, more or less, how we see it today. Subsequent royal visitors/residents include Prince Charles Edward Stuart, George IV, and Queen Victoria.

A tour of the palace will include:

  • James IV's gatehouse fountain.
  • The Great Stair and Royal Dining Room
  • The King's Apartments.
  • The Queen's Apartments.
  • Mary, Queen of Scots' Chambers
  • Remains of the Abbey Church
  • 'Queen Mary' sundial
Self-guided audio tours are the best way to tour the palace.

video video


posted by Catswhiskers @ 11:23 AM  0 comments


Post a Comment

Day Tour Edinburgh Scotland

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Today, Saturday, proved successful.

We first travelled about 8 miles from centre of Edinburgh down to the famous Rosslyn chapel where we joined the 10.00 am tour. This was of high quality and lasted about 30 mins. Rosslyn Chapel has been vaulted to one of Scotland's top tourist attractions following success of both book and film versions of the Da Vinci Code. Rosslyn Chapel has been connected with the Sinclair family for about 600 years. The Chapel dates from the 15th century, took 40 years to complete and is full of intricate and high quality stone carvings containing symbols and meanings which are not fully understood today. Because of long-term repair work there is the added bonus of access to the roof which also features extensive and decorative carvings plus grand views over the local countryside. Overall, Rosslyn was a good experience. Refer also video clip no 1 below.

Image immediately below is that of the Rosslyn Chapel undergoing repairs.

After Rosslyn we headed back to Edinburgh.

Next stop was Palace of Holyroodhouse which is the British Monarch's official residence in Scotland with origins dating back to founding of an Augustinian abbey in 1128 the ruins of which still exist, adjacent to the Palace. In fact the Palace evolved out of a guest house used by the Abbey. James IV (1488-1513) made the decision to convert the lodgings into a palace. A self-guided audio tour navigates visitors around the magnificent rooms and apartments occupied by the Stuart kings, Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie. The architecture of the present building dates from the late 17th century and is impressive. The designs were drawn up by architect, Sir William Bruce. Refer video clips 2 and 3 below for images of the Palace. Fixed image immediately below shows the interior courtyard of the Palace.

This is the ruined Augustinian Abbey adjacent to the Palace.

Next we popped across the road to visit the new Scottish Parliament which is now 10 years old. Controversial external architecture was offset by the well designed debating chamber inside. Being a Saturday no debates were in process. Fixed image below shows the exterior of the new Parliament building.

This is the interior of the Scottish Parliament. Refer also video clip no 4 below.

Final stop of the day was Calton Hill, also known as the 'Athens of the North'. There are two old observatories, a Grecian style National Monument (incomplete) and a tower in form of an inverted telescope as memorial to Lord Nelson, a British naval hero. Moreover, visibility was exceptionally good for the time of year affording us views of the Forth Bridge and Fife Coast as per image below.

video video video video


posted by Catswhiskers @ 10:15 AM  0 comments


Post a Comment

Mons Meg Cannon at Edinburgh Castle Scotland

Friday, July 03, 2009

This evening, I am posting a video and comment on one of the most famous cannons in Scotland, 'Mons Meg'. This 6 ton monster, which dates dates from 1457, is located at Edinburgh Castle and proves very popular with the tourists as a backdrop for photo shoots.

The names 'Mons' reflects its origins at Mons in Belgium whilst 'Meg' is an abbreviation for Margaret.

The cannon was given to King James II (of Scotland) as a gift but its weight militated against practical use in mobile warfare and the artillery piece was retired in 1650.

One of the many interesting sites at Edinburgh Castle.



posted by Catswhiskers @ 1:23 PM  0 comments


Post a Comment

Changing of the Guard at Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Friday, June 12, 2009

This evening, I am posting video clip covering the Changing of the Guard at Edinburgh Castle. A contingent of the the British Army is based at the Castle thereby maintaining a long military tradition dating back hundreds of years.

The gun below is the 550 year old 'Mons Meg', a giant Belgian manufactured siege gun based at the Castle and which proves very popular with tourists.


posted by Catswhiskers @ 1:38 PM  0 comments


Post a Comment

Scottish Parliament Building Edinburgh Scotland

Monday, April 13, 2009

This evening, I am posting a short video clip of the Scottish Parliament building at foot of the Royal Mile, Edinburgh.

The building houses the devolved Scottish parliament which became operational on Oct 11th 2004. There are 129 members of the parliament which has powers to pass legislation and alter tax rates.

The design of the building is somewhat controversial and the construction cost was equally so at GBP431M or 10 times over budget.

The building is accessible to the public and visitors can stay and witness proceedings in the chamber.



posted by Catswhiskers @ 2:00 PM  0 comments


Post a Comment

Edinburgh Scotland in Bloom

Sunday, April 12, 2009

This afternoon, I led a small group tour around Edinburgh. Weather was excellent and the following images show off Edinburgh with benefit of blue skies and daffodills

The images were taken with back to Edinburgh Castle looking towards Princes St with Firth of Forth (waterway) in the background.



posted by Catswhiskers @ 11:33 AM  0 comments


Post a Comment

David Hume Scottish Enlightenment Edinburgh

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

This evening, I am posting some images of a memorial to David Hume in the cemetery off Regent Road, Edinburgh.

David Hume (1711-77) was a leading figure of the Scottish Enlightenment. His main work was Treatise of Human Nature published 1739-40. Hume became Keeper of the Advocates Library and was a founder member of the Select Society, established 1754. He made his fortune from the six volume History of England which was published 1754-62. Hume returned to Scotland (from Paris) in 1769.


posted by Catswhiskers @ 2:16 PM  0 comments


Post a Comment

Abraham Lincoln Statue Edinburgh Scotland

Monday, March 16, 2009

This evening I am posting an image of a unusual find, namely a memorial to Scottish American Soldiers (presumably American Civil War) atop of which is a statue of former U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln.

This memorial is one of many to the great and good of Victorian (19th century) Edinburgh which can be found in Calton Cemetery, Regent Road which is located at the eastern end of Princes Street, not far from the Balmoral Hotel.

Definitely worth a visit for those interested in connecting with the past.


posted by Catswhiskers @ 2:25 PM  0 comments


Post a Comment

Historic Edinburgh Royal Mile Scotland

Sunday, March 15, 2009

This evening, I am posting a selection of images following my visit to Edinburgh's Royal Mile.

Firstly, the Royal Mile sits atop an ancient volcanic lava flow linking the Castle at top to the Palace of Holyrood House at the bottom. This is the oldest and most historic part of Edinburgh.

First image is that of a profile of John Knox House. John Knox was in the vanguard of the 16th century Protestant Reformation and may have died here in 1572. The unusual overhang dates from about 1508 when, as an incentive to clear a surplus of local timber, inhabitants were allowed to extend the frontage of their houses.

This is the Abbey Strand and Sanctuary, close to the Palace at foot of the Royal Mile. Strand is name for a small stream which used to run across the road at this point. Until 1880, the buildings were, in effect, a debtors prison of the aristocracy.

This is the World's End pub the name of which originates from medieval times when this was the City boundary and, effectively, 'end of the world' to inhabitants who would rarely venture outside the City gates.

Street trader

This is Reids Court or the Canongate Manse. Dating from 1690 the building was originally a coaching inn and later served as a manse from 1789-1832. The building is now the home of the minister for the nearby Canongate Kirk.

Here is an aspect of the Parliament Hall and High court of Justiciary dating from 1632-9. This was the home of the independent Scottish Parliament until union with England in 1707. Parliament Hall ( debating chamber) dating from this period still exists and can be visited by the public. The statue depicts King Charles II.

Here is the Mercat Cross with the High Kirk of St Giles in the background. The shaft is a 1970 copy of a 15th century original. The cross house dates from 1885.

Here is an aspect (from the west) of the High Kirk of St. Giles whose origins date back to the 12th century.

Here are the City Chambers ( civic offices) which date from 1753-61 when built as the Royal Exchange.

This is the famous Deacon Brodie's Tavern which dates from 1703. William Brodie aka Deacon Brodie led a double life combing pillar of community by day with robbery by night and was the role model for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Brodie was hanged on Oct 1st 1788. Good pub fare can be obtained here.

The above images are just a snapshot of the wide range of historic buildings and places to see. To do the Royal Mile justice would take at least one full day.


posted by Catswhiskers @ 9:57 AM  0 comments


Post a Comment

Edinburgh Skylines Scotland

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Earlier today I visited Edinburgh, Scotland's capital city, to lead a walking tour for a group of ladies. Weather was blustery but dry which facilitated some reasonable pics. Some of the images below were taken from atop the Scott Monument in Princes Street, a viewpoint which did not afford much room for manoeuvre in very windy conditions.

Here is an image looking east towards Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags with the 5 star Balmoral Hotel in the foreground. Lats year I climbed both the peaks in the picture.

Here is a view of Princes Street looking west. This is area is mired in controversy at present due to the road being closed for construction of a new tramway, a process which has ground to a halt due to disputes with the contractor.

Here is a view of Calton Hill with its famous 'Athens of the North' skyline. The tower ( inverted telescope) on the left is the Nelson Monument (1816) whilst the building in the centre is the Royal High School ( no longer in use for teaching) which dates from 1829. Foreground is Dunbar's Close Garden, a fascinating little find which is open to the public and laid out in the character of an Edinburgh 17th century garden-with interesting aromas from the herbs!



posted by Catswhiskers @ 2:44 PM  0 comments


Post a Comment

Visit Robert Burns Monument Edinburgh

Monday, October 27, 2008

This afternoon, I am presenting an image of the Burns Monument located in Edinburgh's Eastern New Town, between Calton Hill and Holyrood. Robert Burns is Scotland's national poet.

This monument was designed by Thomas Hamilton and completed 1830.

It is a circular Greek temple with Corinthian peristyle.


posted by Catswhiskers @ 5:34 AM  0 comments


Post a Comment

View Calton Hill Skyline Edinburgh Scotland

Saturday, October 25, 2008

This evening I am posting an image taken from the great vantage point of Edinburgh Castle.

In the middle distance can be seen monuments such as the National Monument and Nelson's Monument the significance of which were summarised by Sir Patrick Geddes:

" with its strange medley of monuments is a museum of the battle of styles and a permanent evidence showing how the town planners of one generation cannot safely count upon continuance by those of the next."

The choices of the buildings were made on architectural grounds.

I acknowledge that that quality of this image is not brilliant but it does serve to highlight the importance of the skyline.


posted by Catswhiskers @ 12:45 PM  0 comments


Post a Comment

Visit New Observatory Edinburgh Scotland

Friday, October 24, 2008

This evening, I am presenting an image of the New Observatory on Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland.

This image was taken from atop the Nelson Monument.

Although designated 'new' this building in fact dates from 1818 and is attributed the famous architect William Playfair but influenced by the architect's uncle, Professor Playfair, an eminent mathematician and natural philosopher who was also President of the Astronomical Institution which was formed before the observatory was built.

From an architectural perspective, the building is a cruciform classic temple with central dome, constructed on the summit of the precinct.

As far as I know it is not possible to visit the observatory, which is somewhat disappointing.

In the background on the image below can be seen Edinburgh's New Town which dates from the 1760s and is full of fascinating Georgian architecture.

Be sure to visit Calton Hill when in Edinburgh. It's walkable from Princes Street and offers stunning views.


posted by Catswhiskers @ 12:17 PM  0 comments


Post a Comment

Visit Old Observatory Edinburgh Scotland

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This evening, I am presenting an image of Edinburgh's Old Observatory which was designed by James Craig and dates from 1776. This is situated on Calton Hill and meshes in with the New Town architecture which can be seen in the background.

This was planned as the City Observatory with advice from Robert Adam. It is one of Craig's very few surviving buildings.

This image was taken from atop the Nelson Monument which offers the fit and energetic some great views when visibility is right.


posted by Catswhiskers @ 1:46 PM  0 comments


Post a Comment

Visit Leith Scotland

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This evening, I am presenting some panoramic images of Leith. This is an industrial town and port which sits on Edinburgh's northern shore and is often overlooked by the vast bulk of tourist visitors to Edinburgh.

The two images were taken from Edinburgh Castle and show the towers of Leith in the middle distance then the Firth of Forth then, in the distance, the Fife Coast which ultimately winds its way round to St. Andrews.

For several centuries Leith was an important shipping terminal and played an important role in Edinburgh's growth and prosperity. Leith's decline has, to an extent, been halted by the arrival of the Royal Yacht Britannia which is now an established tourist attraction, albeit one I would not feature in my 'A' list of "must sees".

Other important places to visit in Leith include:

It should not be forgotten that it was from Leith that the ill-fated Darien Scheme was launched in the late 17th century. The failure of this venture virtually bankrupted Scotland and resulted in a deal with England which led to the creation of the United Kingdom in 1707.

Apart from the possibility of a visit to the Royal Yacht, Leith is a perhaps somewhere for the more seasoned traveler looking to dig deeper in to the area's history and architecture.


posted by Catswhiskers @ 12:13 PM  0 comments


Post a Comment