A rooftop view of Edinburgh

Published on Saturday the 25th of May 2013 at 12:03 am
Page last updated on Saturday the 20th of July 2013 at 9:45 am

Finally today there was a break in the cool, early Summer weather we’ve been having in Edinburgh, and the sun was shining brightly in an almost cloudless sky.

We made our way into the centre of town, walking up over George Street, named after George III who was the king at the time when it was being constructed. At the centre of the crossroads with Hanover Street is a statue of his son, George IV, who famously visited Edinburgh in 1822.

We followed Hanover Street down to Princes Street, crossing over to the corner of West Princes Street Gardens, where there was a good view to Edinburgh Castle over some tulips and past the statue of the poet Allan Ramsay.

From the corner of the gardens we climbed up The Mound, an artificial hill linking the New Town and the Old Town. It was constructed with earth removed during the building of the New Town’s foundations in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Being high up, there are great views back over Princes Street below, in particular towards the Scott Monument.

At the top of The Mound we kept on climbing, this time up the steep steps which lead under an eight storey building to Milne’s Court, a 17th century courtyard development built by the King’s Master Mason, Robert Mylne.

A second passageway from the courtyard leads to the bottom of the Castlehill, from where we walked down Upper Bow onto the picturesque Victoria Street.

At the bottom of Victoria Street is the famous Grassmarket, the site of one of Edinburgh’s main horse and cattle markets from the late 15th until the early 20th century, and also the place where public executions took place. At the west end of the Grassmarket is King’s Stables Road, and the break in the buildings reveals Edinburgh Castle looming above.

We continued west along the West Port, turning into Lady Lawson Street and then onto Spittal Street, from where Edinburgh Castle is visible again, from a different angle this time.

Turning along Grindlay Street we reached the Usher Hall, where people were enjoying the sun on the theatre’s steps.

We retraced our steps back to George IV Bridge, and made our way to the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street. It was too hot and sunny to be spending time in a museum, but we were heading for the roof terrace. On a day like today it provides a wonderful vantage point from which to view Edinburgh’s beautiful roofscapes.

It’s also an ideal spot from which to look at Edinburgh Castle, perched on the Castle Rock at the top of the Royal Mile.

The views from the top of the museum really are spectacular, revealing the diversity of shapes and styles of building in Edinburgh’s Old Town.

From this position it’s easy to see what made Edinburgh Castle such a formidable place of strength over the centuries.

Further down the Royal Mile, the famous crown spire of St. Giles’ Cathedral rises from the surrounding buildings. The spire was built in 1495, and then rebuilt in 1648 by the King’s Master Mason John Mylne, the uncle of the aforementioned Robert.

One of the things I love about Edinburgh is the great height of some of the buildings, in particular those on the hilly streets where ten or twelve storeys is not uncommon.

From the east end of the roof terrace is a view towards Arthur’s Seat, stretching out behind the buildings in front of it.

To the south-west are the glass boxes of the luxury Quartermile apartments, with the Pentlands beyond.

To the north is the green dome of the Bank of Scotland headquarters at the top of The Mound.

Looking north-east reveals the tall spire of the Tron Kirk, with the Nelson Monument and the National Monument of Scotland on Calton Hill to its right.

Being so high up, there are also good views well beyond Edinburgh, such as all the way to North Berwick Law. Even the top of the Bass Rock is visible just to the left of the chimney in the photo below.

Having done several circuits of the roof terrace, we descended back into the museum itself for a quick wander before closing time. We then made our way back along George IV Bridge, pausing on the Royal Mile for a closer view of St. Giles’ Cathedral.

Returning to The Mound, this time we took the Playfair Steps before cutting into East Princes Street Gardens from where we had another view of the Scott Monument.

The Gardens were recently relaid with new turf, but with the sun shining so brightly the “Keep Off The Grass” sign didn’t do much good.

At the top of Waverley Bridge, while waiting to cross the road, we were serenaded by a piper with a slightly different look to the old guy who usually stands there.

Making our way home, slightly sunburnt, we could but hope that this was finally the start of Summer.