Years before, I had been to Edinburgh with my family and visited the castle, seen the military tattoo, walked along the Royal Mile, and toured Holyrood. Although that visit left a lasting impression on me, I wanted to experience some new things. And since I was only there for about 6 hours, I had to keep it simple. I decided to do 3 things: climb the Scott Monument, see the Royal Yacht Britannia, and walk to the top of Arthur’s Seat.
I began with the Scott Monument, simply because it was steps from the train station. The Gothic tower dedicated to the Scottish novelist is very visually impressive and boasts great views from the top. To get there however, you have to climb 287 steps. Inside the monument is a spiral staircase that is pretty tight. I was glad there weren’t many people going down as I went up, since one person has to hug the inside of the staircase and one person the outside as you carefully navigate around each other. There are some lights in the staircase, but it can be dark and is definitely not for anyone who is claustrophobic or uncomfortable on stairs! The day I went up, it was so windy that I worried about my camera flying away, even with a strap. The views were great however, and climbing all those stairs made me feel like I’d actually done something!
The Scott Monument, E Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh, Admission is 3 pounds
Next, I wanted to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia, which is now permanently resides at Ocean Terminal in Leith, Edinburgh. This was a really interesting view into the life of the Royal Family and those people who served them on board. They had a great audio guide which covered everything from the engine to royal guests. The ship is still decorated as it was for the Royal family, with a definite 50’s-60’s vibe. My favorite parts were seeing the Royal Tea Deck, and then contrasting that by taking a tour through the sick bay and laundry where the Royal family never would have set foot.
By this time, I was pretty hungry and looking for lunch. The Britannia does have a tea room, so I decided to indulge- how often was I going to be able to have afternoon tea on a Royal Yacht? As you would expect, it was pretty fancy, but the prices weren’t bad! I had a delicious soup, followed by a scone with clotted cream and jam, as well as a pot of tea. I left stuffed and feeling quite fancy.
The Royal Yacht Britannia, Ocean Drive, Leith, Edinburgh, Admission is 15 pounds
The final experience I really wanted to have was to climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat, a hill in Edinburgh that is in Holyrood Park. It’s not a very tall hill, and the paths are pretty well maintained, though I wouldn’t suggest the shoes I wore (booties with a slight heel- oops.) Luckily, I’m used to hiking in conditions that are a lot tougher so I managed to avoid twisting an ankle, but I would recommend better shoes. Holyrood Park is filled with all sorts of people- students, tourists, families out for the day, and people walking their dogs, so it was fun to look around at the top at all the different groups. Arthur’s Seat is the remains of a volcano, but there’s not much evidence of that at the top, though there is a gorgeous view. I was lucky on the day I went- it was windy but clear so I got to sit for a bit and soak in the sights.
Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, Admission is free!
I was so pleased I managed to see all the things I had hoped to in Edinburgh before running to catch the train. I hope to go back again in a couple of years and explore more of the city.