A taste of Scotland at the Scotch Whisky Experience

A taste of Scotland at the Scotch Whisky Experience

On a night in December 2014 when the weather outside was frightful, I was delighted to be welcomed to the Scotch Whisky Experience, along with a group of travel bloggers for the Edinburgh Travel TweetUp (#EdinTravTweetUp).  The team there made us all very welcome, and had a few surprises for us as they prepared for the 2015 Year of Food and Drink.

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Bring in the New Year in Edinburgh #blogmanay

Bring in the New Year in Edinburgh #blogmanay

It’s been a while since I’ve written about spending New Year in Edinburgh – mainly because we’re usually booked well in advance.  We’re all booked up again this year, so don’t delay if you’re looking to bring in 2016 in Edinburgh.

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Robert Louis Stevenson Day – 13 November 2013

Since the first “Previously…Scotland’s History Festival”, the number and range of events being staged to market Robert Louis Stevenson Day has been growing, and this year the events take many forms – from a morning walk to Swanston, to readings of his poetry for children, to afternoon tea and an hour of lively discussion.  My personal choice of events would be to go on the walk at 10:30; followed by a visit to the Writers’ Museum at 2 pm; then a quick sprint downhill to 17 Heriot Row for Afternoon Tea and a Talk; with the day being rounded off by the discussion at the Royal College of Physicians at 7 pm.

This is of course, just the beginning of an extravaganza of exploration into Scotland’s History – what events will you be going along to?

former home of Robert Louis Stevenson

The door to 17 Heriot Row, Edinburgh

Read more: Events for Robert Louis Stevenson Day

Scotland’s History Festival: Previously…

We’d love to welcome you to Craigwell Cottage if you’d like to spend a short break in Edinburgh during November – an ideal time to come as the city gets ready to celebrate the festive season, with Light Night being on 24 November this year.

Nigel Planer and Ian Rankin at the 2011 History Festival

Nigel Planer and Ian Rankin at the 2011 History Festival

The great indoors – #ScotlandHour November 2013

Wild winds in Edinburgh

Autumn breezes in Edinburgh

This month’s #ScotlandHourTwitter chat is about the Great Indoors: Visitor Attractions & Museums – and of course, a Hallowe’en special.

As the weather turned wild and windy on Sunday during our weekend walk through Inverleith Park after a trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens, we thought “The Great Indoors” was indeed a good theme!

Ideas for the great indoors if you’re heading for a short break in Edinburgh:

  1. Within a mile of Craigwell Cottage, there are so many visitor attractions you can walk to.  In our research for #ScotlandHour, we took a look at the ASVA Website which has a list of Scottish Visitor Attractions which you can search by location.  There were more than 20 within a mile of EH8 8DR  (our postcode).
  2. As the seasons change, there are fabulous opportunities to take advantage of sunny spells in the weather for walks around the city.  The Royal Botanic Gardens has several cafés on-site, which means you can pop indoors, or steam gently in the giant glasshouses while sheltering from the elements.
  3. Find a pub with a cosy fire and enjoy being indoors after your bracing walk.  We found at warm fire and a warm welcome at the Blue Goose Country Pub (opposite the Water of Leith Visitor Centre).  We’re on the lookout for more to recommend.
  4. Sample some real hot chocolate at The Cocoa Tree in Bruntsfield.
  5. Spend a day exploring the National Galleries on the mound and have refreshments at The Scottish Café – a whole day and no need to go outdoors as you walk between the Scottish National Gallery and The Royal Scottish Academy via the Hawthornden Link.

What are your favourite recommendations for visitors to spend time indoors in Edinburgh?

 

 

5 things to do near Craigwell Cottage, Edinburgh

5 things to do near Craigwell Cottage, Edinburgh

When you’re staying in a city centre cottage, in the heart of Edinburgh’s historic Old Town, there’s so much to do within a few hundred yards of your front door.  Here is a quick selection for you to try

  1. Visit the Scottish Parliament
  2. Visit the Queen’s Gallery
  3. Visit the Palace of HolyroodHouse
  4. Visit Dynamic Earth
  5. Visit the Museum of Edinburgh

Where do you like to visit around the Canongate section of the Royal Mile?

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Exhibition – new art from Edinburgh gravestones

It was with interest that I read this article on the local STV website this evening, about an Artist bringing life to Edinburgh’s Decaying Cemeteries, as it announced that there would be a photographic exhibition opening soon. Sleep: Historic Cemeteries of Scotland by Bob Reinhardt runs from July 30 to September 1 at Edinburgh Central Library.

Detail from Gravestone in Dean Cemetery

Detail from Gravestone in Dean Cemetery

Gravestones are not only a monument to lives gone, but in their state of decay a source of inspiration for artists, such as Frieda Oxenham whose explorations of graveyards have  influenced her quilting.  I found out about her work as she’s a contributor to blipfoto, the daily photo blog, and this has led me to spend much time looking at the inspirations she has used for her beautiful quilts.

Craigwell Cottage is situated near to Calton Cemetery (just off Waterloo Place), and next to New Calton Cemetery (entrance via Regent Road), both of which can be interesting places to visit and explore the history of Edinburgh’s people, and maybe to inspire you to find out more about your Scottish ancestry – or, like Bob Reinhardt, or Frieda Oxenham, to be inspired by the shapes and patterns of the old stones.

To walk from Craigwell Cottage to Edinburgh City Library for the Exhibition, access the Royal Mile at the Canongate via Campbell’s Close; turn right (uphill) and stay on the Royal Mile until you reach the junction with Lawnmarket/George IV Bridge.  Turn left along George IV Bridge, and the Central Library is on the right after you cross Victoria Street.

 

 

Things to do when it rains in Edinburgh

We’ve come up with a list of some ideas for a rainy day in Edinburgh, focusing on activities within an easy walk of Craigwell Cottage. So grab a brolly and head out to enjoy these delights.  There’s so much going on in the Canongate area, that you could probably spend most of your time within 1/2 mile of the cottage!

Visit the Museum of Edinburgh

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Until 2012 you could be forgiven for having walked past the Museum of Edinburgh without noticing it was there, but with its new paint colours, you certainly won’t miss it! A recent article in the local Evening News explains more about the paint colours, and the treasures within.

How to get there from Craigwell Cottage: Walk up Campbell’s Close to the Royal Mile, and turn right (uphill). Cross at the pedestrian crossing nearby and then walk up the left-hand side of the Canongate section of the Royal Mile until you see The Museum of Edinburgh.

Visit Dynamic Earth

One of the popular activities for visitors to Edinburgh is to climb Arthur’s Seat. From our living room window at Craigwell Cottage you’ll be able to glimpse views of people taking the high route along the top of Salisbury Crags, from which you can see (on a good day) views over the city to the Castle and the River Forth. But if it’s raining, you have the opportunity to find out more about the geological past of Scotland at the fabulous Dynamic Earth while you wait for better weather for your climb.  You can also find out more about local resident James Hutton, the father of modern geology.  He proposed that the earth was much older than originally thought.

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We’d recommend: taking your time on the approach to the building as the very stones on the approach paths are examples of the different ways our land was formed. Also, make sure you don’t rush in to the Time Machine too quickly – some of the most interesting exhibits and facts are in the first room and it’s easy to miss them if you have younger children in tow, who are desperate to take the trip back in time.

How to get there: Walk up Campbell’s Close to the Canongate section of the Royal Mile, cross over at the pedestrian crossing and then turn left into Bull’s Close. Walk down to Holyrood Road, then turn left and you will see Dynamic Earth ahead of you.

Visit the Scottish Parliament

Whether your interest is architectural or constitutional, or even poetical, a visit to the Scottish Parliament should be on your itinerary for a trip to Edinburgh whatever the weather. Some of our guests have arrived at Craigwell Cottage all set with a plan to visit while debates are in progress.

If you want to do this, it will be important to time your visit for dates when the Scottish Parliament is in session. You’ll find all the information you need on the visit and learn section of the Scottish Parliament’s website.

We’d recommend: taking a look at the poetry wall for some wonderful words about Scotland and Parliament. You’ll find it on the side of the Scottish Parliament which borders the Canongate section of the Royal Mile.

How to get there: we like the view of the Parliament set in the surrounding city scape which you get when you approach from Abbeyhill, so from Nether Craigwell turn left down Calton Road, keeping to the narrow pavement to the left of the road, then cross Calton Road just beyond Robertson’s Close at the end of the road where you will see the Palace of Holyroodhouse to the left, Salisbury Crags in the centre and the Scottish Parliament to your left. Just like this:

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Visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse and The Queen’s Gallery

As you’ve seen from the photograph above, we’re only a short distance from The Palace of Holyroodhouse and The Queen’s Gallery.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the residence of the Royal Family when they are in Scotland, and the gardens of the Palace provide the venue for the garden parties when the Queen and other members of the Royal Family present awards to Scots to recognise their achievements. For those interested in the story of Mary Queen of Scots, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is an essential visit when in Edinburgh.

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The Queen’s Gallery is a modern addition, providing a space in which to display selections from the wide-ranging collections owned by the Royal Family. Exhibitions change twice a year, so you should check the website for details of which exhibition will be on when you’re visiting.

If there’s a break in the rain (and let’s hope so), then we’d recommend a visit to the beautiful gardens surrounding the Palace.

How to get there from Craigwell Cottage: it’s just opposite the Scottish Parliament, so follow the directions above.

Visit the Scottish Poetry Library

One of only three specialist poetry libraries in the UK, and the only one housed in its own purpose-built building, the Scottish Poetry Library can be found in Crichton’s Close.  It’s a warm and bright space to visit, and you can consult over 45,000 volumes as well as seeing the mysterious book sculptures or visiting one of their special exhibitions.  It was designed by Malcolm Fraser Architects, and is an interesting building architecturally as well as poetically!

Scottish Poetry Library

How to get there from Craigwell Cottage: head to the Royal Mile via Campbell’s Close, turn right and cross the Canongate at the pedestrian crossing at the Royal Mile Primary School.  Keeping to the left hand side of the road, find Crichton’s Close by turning left at Starbuck’s.

Go shopping in the Canongate, Royal Mile

We could send you off to an indoor shopping mall, such as Princes Mall or the St James Centre, both of which are just a short welly walk away on even the rainiest day, but if you’re armed with an umbrella, we’re sure you won’t mind dodging the puddles for a browse in some of the quirky and unusual shops we have very close to us in the Canongate section of the Royal Mile.

Let us know if you find others which are of interest, but here are some to entice you:

Cadenheads Whisky – check their Facebook page for details of whisky tastings in local pubs.

Carson Clark Gallery (now in St Mary’s Street)

Ye Olde Christmas Shop – where it’s Christmas all year round

Cranachan and Crowdie – for fine Scottish food and gifts

Pinnies and Poppies – artisan shortbread baker in St Mary’s Street

Ragamuffin – with branches in Edinburgh and Skye

We hope that with this small selection of things to do when it rains in Edinburgh, you’ll find plenty of reasons to grab your brolly and get out to explore the immediate surroundings when you’re staying at Craigwell Cottage. If you haven’t yet booked your stay with us, then here’s how to book a weekend break in Edinburgh.  For lots more ideas, we’ve created a Pinterest Board – CanonGREAT, Royal Mile, Edinburgh which has  a map showing all the locations.