Edinburgh may be associated with Scotland’s medieval history, narrow streets and plaid skirts, but in reality, it has a lot more to offer. In Stockbridge, you can enjoy your time strolling between tenement houses, enjoying a coffee to go – just like the Edinburgh people do.
Scotland’s capital city is extremely welcoming to visitors and residents. One of the main advantages of the city is its size – it is neither too big nor too small. Most places can be reached on foot, and thus, at the same time, every now and then you can discover new captivating spots. Stockbridge is my favourite neighbourhood in Edinburgh. Formerly, it was a place on the outskirts of the city, incorporated into the city in the 19th century. Originally, the district was inhabited by wealthy townspeople, hence the area abounds in extremely elegant buildings in Georgian and Victorian styles, which delight and encourage to walks. The area in which Stockbridge is situated stretches over the River Water of Leith. The name of the district comes from Scottish and means a wooden bridge that once connected the area with Edinburgh. Today, the two banks are connected by another brick bridge, from which you can see a sculpture of a man, a part of Antoni Gormley’s installation “6 Nations”.
A district with history
In the 19th and 20th centuries, Stockbridge was inhabited by Edinburgh bohemia and intelligentsia. It was home to the talented physicist Peter Higgs; Mrs Doubtfire – a wealthy lady and the local party animal, whose name inspired the creators of the American film starring Robin Williams in the leading role; the portraitist Sir Henry Raeburn; and the gynaecologist and obstetrician James Young Simpson, who was the first to use chloroform as an anaesthetic in medicine. On the local tenement houses, you can see signs marking the places of residence of various personalities. The walk from the centre to Stockbridge takes about 15 minutes and is very pleasant, as the road goes down all the time and leads through the New Town, where you pass beautiful tenement houses and their private gardens (e.g. Queen Street Gardens or Royal Circus Gardens). When the sky is clear, you can see the horizon of the Firth of Forth estuary and the shore of the Kingdom of Fife on the other side.
In Circus Lane
Some say it is the most picturesque street in Edinburgh. You should find out about it and turn your lens towards Circus Lane. Under the hashtag #circuslane on Instagram, you can see the best angle to take a photo at this place. The street is especially delightful in spring, when the bushes with small flowers turn pink next to the small Mews Houses. In the past, Mews Houses were flats for the servants of wealthier people living in nearby tenement houses. Today, they are mainly residential houses or workshops of local artists.
My favourite street for shopping is St Stephen Street. You will find there an independent bookstore, Golden Hare Books, and a vinyl record store – VoxBox Music. Leave this street through a stately gate that will take you to the old Stockbridge Market. Walking along the Water of Leith River to the east, you can reach the Gallery of Modern Art. When following the footpath along the river, you will pass the stately looking St Bernard’s Well, a mineral water well, which is open once a year for Door Open Days. This way you will come to one of Edinburgh’s best hidden secrets – a village in the city called Dean Village. This charming place is worth seeing, if for no other reason than the Dean Bridge from 1831 towering over the buildings.
To be like an Edinburgh man
On a Saturday morning, citizens of Edinburgh buy coffee to go from Artisan Roast, a cinnamon bun from Peter’s Yard, and head to Inverleith Park to get some fresh air at the top of the hill by Lake Inverleith. From there, you can admire the panorama of the entire city, and when the weather is fine, observe the struggles of members of the club of miniature yachts, who set sailing boats on an artificial lake. The park also has a great playground and a secret rose garden. Walking towards the Botanical Garden, you will pass eleven streets with houses in the Colonies style. This particular estate was built by artisans at the turn of the 20th century and is characterized by an extraordinary sense of community. The estate has its own choir, Victorian swimming pool and a mini library.