I’ve been here long enough now to see the winter transition into spring, and if there’s one lesson I can take away from my time here so far, it is that no ray of sunlight in Scotland should ever go wasted.
The past few weeks have shown so many days of bright blue skies and glittering, delicious sunshine (Remember how warmth feels on your skin? I sure didn’t!) that even on my most mucus-stuffed, congested sick days, I forced myself to trudge outdoors in order to drink in every beam of light.
Edinburgh has no shortage of lovely scenic walks that’ll make you forget all about the sideways rain and bone-chilling wind of winter’s past. So put on your comfiest walking shoes, bring a camera, and get ready to convince everybody back at home that Scotland looks like this all year round.
Princes Street Gardens
In my experience, sometimes it’s the most obvious things that are most overlooked. Located right in the centre of the city, Princes Street Gardens is a destination that can quite literally be stepped over in favour of the shops on Princes Street or the Royal Mile that sits right above. Princes Street Garden is gorgeously lush and surprisingly serene considering its location, and offers a fantastic vantage point of the iconic Edinburgh Castle. Well worth a visit after all the hustle-and-bustle of the high street on a weekend afternoon!
Modern Art Galleries/Dean Village/Stockbridge
This is one of my favourite walks in Edinburgh, and one that I have taken all my visiting friends to so far. It’s a circular path that takes you through to three fantastic locations, all while the tranquil Water of Leith babbles soothingly and birds chirp cheerily above you. I prefer to start at the Modern Art Gallery One; in the car lot of the museum, there’s a small gate that leads you down to the Water and takes you through a beautiful wooded area straight to Dean Village, a charming residential area that looks unlike anything else you’d see in the city. Continuing on the path of the Water, you eventually exit onto Stockbridge. A lovely neighbourhood far removed from the tourist crowd with no shortage of quirky cafés and shops, Stockbridge is also a short distance from the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens and a quick bus ride away back to Princes Street. If you have friends or family visiting, this would be the one walk I would argue can’t be missed. A complete map of the path can be found here!
Hermitage of Braid/Blackford Hill
The famous Arthur’s Seat is obviously a hike that should be taken by anyone who visits Edinburgh, but for a more peaceful and less physically strenuous climb, Blackford Hill is a clear winner. Located a bit outside of the Marchmont neighbourhood, Blackford Hill sits atop the beautiful Hermitage of Braid, a natural reserve with a vast grassy field, a pond, and a lovely wooded trail that lead to stairs for the ascent of the hill. At the top, you get a fantastic panoramic view of Edinburgh and Arthur’s Seat. Maybe Blackford would be preferable to climbing Arthur’s Seat solely because you get to see the latter in all of its glory; it’s impossible to get a great view of Arthur’s Seat when you’re actually on it. As the wise Karl Pilkington once said, “I’d rather live in a cave with a view of a palace than live in a palace with a view of a cave.” A map of the Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill can be found here!