Jo’s Monday walk : A Royal Odyssey

It was not a promising beginning!  I stuck my head out of Edinburgh’s Waverley Station into damp and dreary grey skies.  No-one gave the bedraggled looking ice cream vendor a second look.  Still  I was bubbling over with excitement at a precious few hours in this beautiful city and determined to make the best of it.   Where better to start than The Royal Mile?

Approximately a mile long (surprise!), it rolls gently downhill from Edinburgh Castle to the gates of Holyrood Palace.  Did you know that miles can vary in length?  I was astounded to find that they can indeed, and that a Scots mile is longer than an English mile!  No wonder my feet got tired in Edinburgh.  The English statute mile was established by a Weights and Measures Act of Parliament, in 1593, during the reign of Elizabeth I.  “A mile shall contain 8 Furlongs, every Furlong 40 Poles, and every Pole shall contain 16 Foot and a half”.  For more clarity, read this link.

You will observe that Edinburgh has its share of ‘tourist tat’ interspersed with venerable historic buildings.  There’s room for all.  The Royal Mile is actually comprised of five consecutive streets- Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High St., Canongate and Abbey Strand.  I joined High St. directly from North Bridge and was ambling down towards the Palace.  Many closes and alleys invite further inspection, but I’m drawn towards the World’s End pub on the corner of St. Mary’s St., a former city boundary.  After the English victory over the Scots, in 1513 at the Battle of Flodden, a city wall was built around Edinburgh. Parts of the Flodden Wall still exist in the pub foundations.  Brass studs in the road mark the former position of the Netherbow Port, a gateway in the wall.

John Knox House stands on the opposite corner.  The gateway was removed in 1764 to improve the flow of traffic where the road narrows. Beyond lies Canongate, literally ‘the canon’s way’, used by the Augustinian monks from Holyrood Palace.  Until 1856 Canongate was not only a street, but the name of the surrounding burgh.  It was separate from Edinburgh and outside of the Flodden Wall.

The damp persisted, but it didn’t stop my enjoyment of a totally unexpected city garden.  I had stumbled upon Dunbar’s Close, complete with wonderfully cobwebby Scottish thistle.  This 17th century garden was created by Sir Patrick Geddes, an eminent Scots biologist who was aware of the relationship between health and environment.  It was restored to its current condition in 1978.

At the bottom of the Royal Mile there’s a choice between the modern and inspiring Scottish Parliament Building and historic Holyrood Palace.  You know which I chose, but I neglected to allow you a little glimpse inside.  I think you might enjoy this 2 minute video.

Suitably impressed, it was time to make my way back up the Royal Mile.  This time I continued on to Lawnmarket, and the Mercat Cross on Parliament Square.  Royal proclamations and the summoning of Parliament are traditionally announced here, and a bubble blower was having fun with the crowd.  St. Giles Cathedral, on the opposite side of the square, dates from the 14th Century and is the High Kirk of Edinburgh .

The real piper, or a dummy at the traditional kilt store?  I liked them both.  I had reached the Bank of Scotland, in all its magnificence. Have you noticed that the clouds have lifted and at last the sky is blue?  Curious about The Mound, I headed that way.  Apparently it’s an artificial hill, built to fill in a loch that was part of ancient Edinburgh’s defence system.

I don’t know about you but I was getting tired and hungry.  Up on The Mound, I found the perfect thing.

Haggis, neeps and tatties, of course.  Now, I’m not going to take you too much further but my digs are at the far end of Princes St.  I decided to walk through Princes St. Gardens. You’d like a quick look, wouldn’t you?  The mist is just rising over the castle.

Did you spot the statue of Wojtek and the Bear?  You probably don’t know the amazing story of the bear who went to war.  A group of young Polish girls were taking his photo, but moved aside for me, with a giggle or two.

I’m going to say my farewells here.  I checked into my accommodation, then did the Water of Leith walk that I shared last week.  You can get back to our start point at Waverley Station by tram, if you’d like.   I never did manage a tram ride in Edinburgh.  Maybe next time?

walking logo

Hope you enjoyed this walk.  I’m going to be putting my feet up for a week or two, but first I have some wonderful shares.  Thank you so much to everybody for your enthusiasm and support.  My apologies that I won’t be able to share for a while, so please do make the most of the following :


I cover a decent few miles, and so does my good friend Becky.  But sl-ow-ly!

Strolling along the Thames Path- part one!

‘Leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again..’  Or boat, in Drake’s case :

Leaving through backdoor

Them boots are made for…  Cardinal!

Hiking Boots

I hope Lady Lee has good boots too!

Hiking in Tenerife

It’s many a long year since I was in lovely Inverary.  Let Anabel show you around :

Inverary and Auchindrain

Islands around Toronto are always a novelty.  Go hopping with Jackie!

Island hopping

And look at local murals with Trav Trails :

City Walks

What would you expect to see in Bern, Switzerland?  Let Laia show you the sights :

Bern : music, roses and … bears?

Making me yearn for the Algarve, Miriam fills my senses with salt spray :

Walking Cape Schank

Some of you will know Kathe from Six word Saturday.  She’s sampling a little Scots whisky on this walk :

Yesterday’s short walk to Muir of Ord’s Distillery

And Liesbet is keeping us fit with a bit of rock scrambling :

WW- Gorham Mountain Train in Acadia NP, Maine

But there’s a gentler way too :

The Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park, ME

Susan has made it to the Baltic, and found a parade and some idyllic shops :

Walking Stockholm, Sweden

Or how about a crazy but beautiful Art Party, with Kathrin?

Anne & Mark’s Art Party 2016

Get those trumpets ready to sound the fanfare!  Here comes Badfish :

Strolling Through Prague : One fine day- Part 1

There won’t be another Monday walk until 17th October.  Sounds ages away, doesn’t it?  I’ll try to keep in touch but I don’t have WiFi in the Algarve. It’s wonderful just to switch off from social media and indulge in friends and places.  I’ll miss you, so please take care of yourselves while I’m gone.


    1. Jude at Travel Words was there with her husband for a conference on 17th/18th September so I traveled up and stayed overnight so I could meet her. It’s closer than Cornwall 🙂 I agree- a wonderful city 🙂

  1. I adore Sir Patrick Geddes’ garden and oh how I want to Queen of Ediburgh Castle 😍. Thank you for taking us on yet another lovely walk.

    My thoughts are with you and your family right now. I was so very sorry to hear that your father passed away. You are blessed to have had such a lovely man in your life. Big Hug.

      1. Even though I did not personally know your father, you images and words told the story of a strong yet gentle soul who I think I would have liked very much. Sending you endless love and support.

  2. Now this was a real treat – and I just Love Edinburgh! I have walked there as well a couple of times, but you make me want to go again…Great shots and of course places and facts i haven’t visited or did not know about. And I love men in kilt…who doesn’t? And preferably with big beards as well…
    I trust you have a lovely time in Algarve – but thought I would go for another walk…hope you can use it when you come back!

  3. You bring back GREAT memories from Edinburgh, Jo. We walked the mile and more two years ago. It was the E. festival and it was very crowded so it was a feast for the eyes and the feet to join you from the comfy chair right now.
    Have a wonderful holiday!
    Dina x

  4. Wasn’t Dunbar’s Close the best? Your photos bring back such fond memories of exploring the dark, cobbled streets off Royal Mile and discovering all those wonderful gardens in Edinburgh.

  5. Jo…I love the way you started this piece. And also love the guy in the skirt…I think you put that in for my benefit (from Prague guy with the whip), eh! You know, I almost went to Edinburgh last summer. Glad I didn’t, because I didn’t have warm clothes. Although your photos make me wish I had taken warm clothes and went. Now E is on my list. And wasn’t it bad enough when there were just miles and kilometers, but now…different lengths for miles! Is anything what it should be here on this planet?

  6. What a lovely walk, even without the sun! Your photos are fabulous.

    The gardens and the mystical castle look especially enticing.

    Can’t say I have ever heard of “haggis, neeps and tatties.” I’ll take your word for them being tasty.


  7. I’m going to confess that the main thing I remember from walking the Mile when I was 12, apart from the castle and palace, was the toy museum. But then, you would, wouldn’t you, as a child. Thanks for taking me to some other places. Hope you’re enjoying your time away. 🙂

  8. You really did make the most of your time in Edinburgh, Jo. I love that garden, even in the mist. And the “Haggis, neeps and tatties” look delicious. I’m always enticed by salty rather than sweet, although I’ll eat my share of sweets as well. 🙂 What about those three street performers? Is that real or a statue?

    Have a great trip to Tavira. I’d like to join your Monday walk for next time, even though I guess it will be several weeks. We took a very long walk here:

    See you soon! 🙂

      1. I’m sure, you have a lot of people who care about you, so you want to make sure everyone knows what’s going on. Just read your lovely little memorial to your dad on your blog. I’m so sad you’ve lost him. Love and hugs to you and your family, Jo. xxx

  9. I always learn something new in your articles Jo and now I know that miles are not all the same! I enjoyed the video – such a beautiful interior but doesn’t seem to done its inhabitants much good! I must get myself to Edinburgh some day! 🙂

      1. Oh Jo am so sorry to hear that and am sorry too that I’ve only just come on here and seen your message. Sincere condolences and thinking of you at this difficult time, take care and lots of love xxx

    1. Thanks a lot, Paula 🙂 Just doing last minute things, then t’ai chi and off to Leeds to meet James for a swift meal before we fly at teatime. Leaving hugs behind. 🙂 🙂 Take care of yourself!

  10. That balancing act on the last gallery, I am baffled. How in the hell? And are you gonna tell us about the war with a bear?
    Fascinating tidbits about the mile length and the World’s End.

  11. I really enjoyed this walk, because the only time I’ve walked the Royal Mile was after a night at the Edinburgh Tattoo. Everyone was leaving together and it was like a can of sardines all packed in together and slowly moving down the hill. No time for looking around! Next time I will make sure to go at a better time.

    1. Good morning! Were you suitably romanced by Castle Howard? Give my love to Elaine and enjoy your time together. Best wishes to Glen and Melissa. I have limited time now before the Algarve. Take good care xxx

      1. Oh, it was so beautiful. We spent a long time wandering in the gardens before going into the house. It was nice to spend the time with Melissa too, before she headed back to Manchester on the train late in the afternoon. Enjoy your holiday!

  12. Hi Jo – what a lively walk – and who knew about the miles being different – thanks for the trivia
    and i agree with you and the others – magical qualities here Jo – 🙂

  13. Excellent, your enjoyment is bursting through! What a lot there is to see, I like the Spes Altera vitae thingy and the story behind the World’s End. Now, did you take hoe wee dram for M? or even for you?
    I’m going to miss you and i don’t think I’m alone, but have a wonderful trip, top yourself up with some sunshine, and see you next month x:-)x

    1. Sorry to disappoint, Gilly, but we’re not really whisky drinkers. Mick would probably have liked port but all he got was me! 🙂 🙂 Thanks, sweetheart. Leaving a trail of hugs behind me….

  14. Well, I can’t help it but I almost fall in love with any man in a kilt and if he can play bagpipe – even better 😀
    A great walk and very interesting as always Jo.

  15. A treat of a post, Jo! I enjoyed the video – it all looked so old but in good condition. The colours of the bed hangings are still so vibrant four hundred years later. Amazing. Just loved seeing all the photos from the Royal Mile (and thank you for explaining about the longer Scottish mile – now I can sound very knowledgable!).

    1. Wikipedia knows a thing or two, doesn’t it, Annika? 🙂 🙂 I was amazed by the condition of the hangings too. Wasn’t sure if it would let me share the video but I was delighted that it did.

  16. I never imagined that miles could vary in length from one place to another! I always learn something new with your walks, in addition to discover new places.
    Thanks for another great walk (the castle is great!)

  17. Jo dreary or not you have me falling in love with Edinburgh. It seems the tourist stores are so quaint and don’t look tacky at all. The photo of the castle rising out of the mist is jaw dropping!
    I hope you have some restful time putting those feet up. A well deserved break I would say. I hope you don’t mind me popping in and sharing a hike with you. I thought you would love to see the glorious larch trees high in the alpine right now. A bit of a slog but well worth the vistas. 🙂

    1. Well, we have 2 walks planned with our walking friends, Sue, but there will be much sitting and just chatting about life between times. It’s a pleasure to have you join me. 🙂 I won’t be able to share on here for a couple of weeks but I’ll do FB and tweet. 🙂 Thanks a bunch!

  18. Hi Jo, great to read about your trip to my city. I love Dunbar’s Close Gardens, I often have lunch there in nice weather. I work in the Parliament so it is easy to walk there and have lunch. I must confess that I rarely go up the other end of the Royal Mile towards the castle and tend to think of this as a tourist area! I have also never taken the time to read the story about the World’s End pub and why it has that name. I am ashamed! It is a case of living in a place and taking it for granted. Love the photos, you got a great one of the castle.

    1. The thing is, there’s so much to see in a city like Edinburgh, Colin. You could spend a lifetime and never know all the stories. So glad you approve of my effort. I love your city. Next time I’m there I’ll look for you in Dunbar’s Close. 🙂 🙂

  19. I just love that last photo, Jo. So inviting and the sky is perfect. I must have a thing for castles… The act of the three men on top of each other looks like a visual trick. What’s the explanation? Edinburgh, surely is a city with a lot of history. Reading your post, I had to think about a comment I heard from an American tourist yesterday: “Boston is a great city. It has soooo much history!” 🙂

    1. I think a few of us have a thing for castles, Liesbet. No shortage of them over here 🙂 🙂 No idea how those guys did it! I didn’t hang about to find out. Next trip? 🙂

  20. What a dreich start to your day and I’m glad it cheered up for you. I think the word ‘dreich’ is so descriptive of dull, misty weather. Edinburgh has so much history – and so many interesting things to see – I really, really must get myself there. I learned only this week that underneath the Royal Mile there is an underground ‘city’ which you can go on a tour to see. I bet that is fascinating.

    1. I suggested St. Mary’s Close to Jude as a potential if the weather was bad but she declined because she’s claustrophobic. Some rainy day I’ll do it 🙂 🙂 I was going to say ‘dreich’ in my description but wasn’t sure how to spell it, Elaine, so I’m glad you helped me out. 🙂

    1. The Scottish mile? 🙂 🙂 Sorry your intro was a bit ‘skewiff’! I’ve just adjusted it. That’s what you get for updating in the new viewer and not checking before you press publish 😦

  21. A great guided walk around one of my favourite cities! Funny that you found Dunbars Close – I only found it for the first time on my last visit! Enjoy the feet up break! I’m ver busy at work for next 3 weeks but will hopefully have some walks ready to share when you’re back in action!

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Thanks a lot, Debs 🙂 All that and meeting Jude! Such a lovely little close, and then I find that another blogging friend, who works in the Scottish Parliament Building, regularly has lunch there too! Funny old world 🙂 🙂

  22. It’s a good while since I wandered in Edinburgh, so thanks for tramping the Scottish miles on my behalf. And for finding Geddes’ garden. It looks wonderful and I’m sorry I didn’t find it for myself. Great walk and views as ever. It’s such fun seeing places through your eyes. Happy ‘putting feet up’.

  23. Scotland was always the most interesting part from a historical point of view, in your photos it looks exactly as I imagined it. I am not so good at English metric system, it always makes me feel confused. I adore that specific changes of English weather, it’s so unpredictable, but it has its own charm. Fascinating, entertaining and so so beautiful! Take care, dear Jo!

  24. non dico che non sia affascinante la camera della regina, però molto opprimente…ma piuttosto che dormire lì preferirei avere come tetto un cielo stellato…ha ha
    il resto del reportage p magnifico con l’ultima immagine davvero superlativa!
    un grande abbraccioGiovanna cara

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