The first sound I heard as I hopped off the coach at the end of Edinburgh’s Princes St. was the wail of bagpipes, leaving me in no doubt at all that I was in Bonny Scotland. Renowned for my lack of sense of direction, no matter how hard I look at a map, I wandered onto North Bridge, gazing around for a landmark. The city rose and fell all around me and, with a little sigh of relief, I spotted the Castle on its lofty mound. Destination one was established! Of course, the direction was up.
I had timed it nicely to arrive for the one o’clock salute. The press of people was tight as we waited for the cannon to explode. At the same time that the cannon is fired, across the city on Calton Hill a timeball drops on Nelson’s Monument. Visible from afar, its original purpose was to enable the captains of ships on the Firth of Forth to set their chronometers for accurate navigation.
A nice moment occurred as I chatted to a neighbour. A native of the city, he had never before managed to witness the dropping of the timeball. I told him that I hadn’t been sure whether to head for Calton Hill or the Castle itself for the event. Neither had he, but he proceeded to show me that he had successfully recorded it on camera for posterity. I wish I could show you!
The sky was beginning to lighten as I made my way to my next destination- the Scott Monument on Princes St. Not that I knew the way. I followed my nose down some steps and eventually ended up lost in enormous Waverley Railway Station. From there the only way was up again.
Next I headed for Calton Hill itself, curious to see up close the reason for the city’s nickname “Athens of the North”. Sure enough, there was the incomplete Parthenon! Funds did not allow for completion at the time of building. It matters little now because it is part of a wonderful green space in the city.
I imagine you’re starting to tire a bit now. I left the house before 7am to catch my coach, but the knowledge that I had just this one day spurred me on. I won’t keep you much longer.
The day was sparkling as I headed downhill through a different cemetery to the Palace of Holyrood. The queues didn’t allow me time to go in, but I managed a quick swish through the stylish Scottish Parliament building. The sun was beginning to set and the lights to come on as I headed back up the Royal Mile.
Just time to pop my nose in Jenners to see the Christmas tree and marvel at the rides in St. Andrews Place. The kilts were still twirling and the pipes a-calling as I returned, most reluctantly, to the coach.