A self guided audio tour in 15 languages is offered on the Royal Yacht Britannia. Adult price is £9.00 children £5.00 Over 60's £7.00. Opening times are April - October 9.30 - 4.30 November - March 10.00 - 3.30 Pre booking is recommended in August Tel. 0131 555 5566
We didn't take the tour - but if you have an interest in the Royals & want to see where they spent some holidays afloat make sure you have plenty of time as the tour can take 2 hours of your precious time.
Craigmillar Castle is a few miles beyond the village of Duddingston, and before the hospital at New Friends. It is a late medieval castle and we were most impressed with it.
We arrived at 9.30 and were the first visitors for the day. Entry cost 3.50 GBP for an adult and 2.50 GBP for concession [over 60].
The castle is popular with children as it is a good place to play Hide and Seek with a seeming warren of rooms and hideyholes.
It is set in a large area which includes what would have been gardens, and a p-shaped fish pond.
Spiral staircases with ropes to hang on to take you up to the various floors and onto the roof from which you get wonderful views over the neighbourhood.
The rooms are quite large especially the dining hall and main bed chamber. All have curved ceilings, large fireplaces and lots of niches , possibly for storing clothes and linen.
The main bed chamber has its ensuite latrine.
We spent an hour exploring the castle before any other visitors arrived.
The castle belonged to the Preston family , whose crest adorns the entrance doorways; and then the Gilmour family. Mary Queen of Scots stayed here at some time too.
Just 20 minutes by train (main line between Edinburgh and Glasgow) is Linlithgow Palace - or at least the shell of the palace.
Linlithgow's main claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots (1542). although there has been a roayl manor of some description on the site from the 12th century. A fire in 1424 destroyed both the house and the town itself, and it is from there that Linlithgow Palace as seen today has its genesis. It was the royal palace of the Stuarts, hence Mary's birth.
But Mary did not stay long - at 7 months old she was in Stirling and by 6 in France as a result of the English (and Henry VIII) invading Scotland to try and secure Mary's marriage to Henry's only son, Edward VI. The Scots were having none of it, the French stepped in, Mary was whisked off to be married at a young age to the heir to the French throne and, by the time she was 19, Mary was already a widow and back in Scotland. The rest, as they say, is history...
Linlithgow was little used after Mary's imprisonment and death, the last royal Stuart to stay there being Prince Charles Edward (Bonnie Prince Charlie) in 1745. But following his unsuccessful march into England against King George II, the Duke of Northumberland and his army swept into the Lothians and claimed Linlithgow for themselves. On departure in 1746, the Palace caught fire and became what we see today - a roofless (albeit impressive) shell.
It's a great place to wander round in - many different floors to climb, great views over the ramparts, spectacular fireplaces suspended in the walls (the wooden floors obviously having been destroyed).
1 April - 30 Sept: 9.30am-5.30pm (daily), 1 Oct - 31 Mar: 9.30am-4.30pm (daily)
GBP 5.00 (adult), 4.00 (concession), 2.50 (kids)
Craigmillar Castle lies just three miles south east of the centre of Edinburgh and is one of the most completely preserved medieval castles in Scotland.
Craigmillar began life as the tower house that still forms the core of the castle. This was constructed around 1400. In the 1440s Craigmillar's most notable feature was added, the curtain wall that surrounds the tower house on three sides and creates the inner courtyard. In about 1510 a further layer of enclosure was added, outer walls were erected to form the outer yard and east and west gardens.
Craigmillar Castle was captured by the English in May 1544. Rebuilding in the 1550s included the construction of a new range of buildings, designed to provide more modern and spacious accommodation than was available in the tower house.
It was probably in this new range that Mary Queen of Scots stayed in September 1563 and again in December 1566. It was during her second stay that conspirators agreed the "Craigmillar Bond": the plot to kill Mary's husband.
In the early 1700s Craigmillar was abandoned by its owners. It became overgrown and ruinous over the following two centuries, and was passed into state care in 1946. Today it is cared for by Historic Scotland.
The castle is open all year as follows:
April to September: 9.30am to 6.30pm every day.
October to March: 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday to Wednesday (closed all day Thursday and Friday).
Admission: Adult £3.50, Child £1.50.
Craigmillar Castle Road, Edinburgh, EH16 4SY
The castle is located south-east of Edinburgh city centre, at Craigmillar. 3 miles from the centre of Edinburgh, on the A7.
Buses that go to Craigmillar are no: 2, 14, 21, 30 and 42.
This interesting village is just outside Edinburgh, from Portobello. The village was once a weaving community. The church looks interesting but whenever I went, I found it locked. There is also a house where Bonnie Prince Charlie was said to have stayed.
Nearby is a loch, and all this is just under the ridge of Arthur's seat, and views of the Pentland Hills.
It makes a pleasant run in the late afternoon when the ducks etc are walking around near the loch.
The Firth of Forth is a wide expanse of water north of Edinburgh. The first railroad bridge over it was the Tay Bridge, which collapsed in 1879 with great loss of life. After that, Tancred-Arrol built a new railroad bridge designed by civil engineers Sir John Fowler and Benjamin Baker. Opened in 1890, this is now one of Scotland's most famous and distinctive landmarks.
The Forth Bridge is over 8,000 feet long, with towers standing 361 feet high. It stands 158 feet above the water.
It's between Queensferry and North Queensferry. These towns lie to the northwest of Edinburgh. I visited the bridge on a coach tour from Edinburgh. Go to the Edinburgh Convention Center (points of contact below) for more information.
Linlithgow is a small town about 25 km west of Edinburgh, best-known as the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. The palace where she was born is now a roofless ruin, but its romantic rooms, stairways and passages can still be explored, with the windows offering great views of the park and the loch.
The Queen did not stay here long, seven months later she was taken to Stirling Castle, but she and her successors, the Stuarts, visited the place repeatedly. The last of them to stay there was Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. After his unsuccessful attempt to regain the Crown from George III the palace was taken over by the King's son, Duke of Cumberland. When his troops were leaving to march North on 1 February 1746, someone had left an unattended fire, which soon engulfed the whole building, leaving just the burnt-out shell that we can see today.
The Palace grounds with the lawns going down to the loch, home to many species of birds, can be a good place for a picnic.
The palace overshadows the charming St.Michael's Church nearby, which was closed when I went there but at least I was able to walk around their most interesting graveyard.
Leith is a port on the north side of Edinburgh which is now home to the Royal Yacht Brittania at Ocean Terminal, a big new shopping centre. It also has a lively restaurant scene, particularly known for its seafood places.
I used to live there as a student and the docks area in particular has undergone a lot of developement and regeneration. Well worth a visit and easy to reach by bus from Princes Street.
When you visit Rosslyn Chaple take a few minutes to walk down to view the ruins of Rosslyn Castle. the castle is not open to the public, but the exterior can be seen
looking out over Roslin Glen the castle, which is still owned by the Sinclair family, played an important part in the wars of independance, in 1303 a small group of Scots defeated the much larger English army three times within 24 hours, and during the British Civil War the castle was besieged by Cromwell`s troops
there are several legends about hauntings connected to the castle, including a black knight on horseback, a howling dog the `Mauthie Doog`, and the story that if you stand on a certain step within the castle and blow a trumpet then treasure will be found
judging by the delapidated state of the castle it is more likely to collapse than to reveal treasure at the blast of a trumpet
For those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the gardens is the place to go. One can see many different species of native and exotic plants here, both in beautifully landscaped grounds or in hot-houses.
A worthy destination for those who love ruined medieval castles is Tantallon Castle, a short drive to the coast, east of Edinburgh proper. Built in the 14th Century (1300s) as a stronghold of one of the powerful scottish clans, the Douglas Clan, its curtain walls and bastions are testimony to its might. Heavily damaged by canon fire during the the period of the English Civil War, it was soon afterwards abandoned and allowed to fall into ruin. It is a romantic site, overlooking the sea. Below, kittiwakes (a kind of gull) can be seen. The dungeon is accessible and gives one an idea of the way it was 600 years ago. Tantallon Castle is a must for history buffs, lovers of medieval castles or anyone who wants to go someplace off the main tourist routes.
Bass Rock - Tantallon Castle in the Firth of Forth .
Tantallon Castle is just a shadow of its original construction. The main structure used to comprise a 12ft thick curtain wall built right across the headland with a deep ditch cut through the rock in front and by the natural cliffs on the other three sides. Tantallon's origins date back to the First Earl of Douglas in 1358.
Tantallon Castle lies just off the A198, east of North Berwick. Open all year round.
The first inhabitant of Bass Rock was a monk of Lindisfarne used the island as a retreat for prayer and meditation. A lighthouse was constructed on the island in 1902.
The distillery is only about 15 miles from Edinburgh and is set in a small valley. It is the only remaining malt whisky distillery from which this classic malt takes its name. You can take a guided tour and of course do some tasting.
Near Penticaitland off the A6903, off the A68 Edinburgh to Jedburgh
On the last May Holiday weekend The Festival of The Sea was staged in Leith. Gone now but Leith is still the working port of Edinburgh, berth of cruise and navy ships, and home of the Royal Yacht Brittania (the Queen's holiday cruiser turned tourist attraction). Leith has traditionally been dog rough and somewhat shady in parts, but the luxury flats are now springing up like nobody's business. Intend to post more pics of the fest when available, meantime here is me in front of some of the visiting tall ships.
For those who really want to get into the culture of Edinburgh, a trip to Leith is well worth it. Originally an independent city, Leith was absorbed into Edinburgh in the 1920s and made into the city's port. Since then, Leith has always been a large working class area of the city, known for its gritty housing projects, rows of connected houses, and a Socialist ethic.
Leith is perhaps best known for moviegoers and readers around the world from the works of Irvine Welsh, whose "Trainspotting" was one of the most successful and popular British books and films of the later half of the 20th century. "Trainspotting" chronicles in unflinchingly realistic and often brutal detail the downward spirals (and rebirth) for a group of football-loving heroin junkie friends in late '80s/early '90s Edinburgh. The film shows the rise of the AIDS epidemic in the city, yob violence, the rise of techno music, and the dim economic prospects in the Leith neighborhood.
Although you won't find Mark Renton running down Leith Walk from the cops nor (thankfully) Begbie screaming bloody murder, you will find Leith to be nevertheless a very interesting part of the city, where a way of life that most tourists don't even see prevails here. You'll find tucked away pubs, small stores, cafes, and takeouts. Leith got a big shot in the arm in the late 1990s when the Royal Yacht Britannia, the Queen's personal ship, was docked here to become a tourist attraction. With it came redevelopements, like new restaurants, stores and cafes opening up all across the waterfront, transforming a traditional longshoreman's dockyard into a yuppie enclave.
For those who really want to explore the hidden Edinburgh, a trip to Leith is very enlightening and great to explore.