Leith Things to Do

  • Customs House, Leith
    Customs House, Leith
    by spidermiss
  • The Vaults (of the Oldest Wine Warehouse), Leith
    The Vaults (of the Oldest Wine...
    by spidermiss
  • Lighthouse on Victoria Dock, Leith
    Lighthouse on Victoria Dock, Leith
    by spidermiss

Most Recent Things to Do in Leith

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    Newhaven Heritage Museum

    by Drever Updated Dec 26, 2013
    Newhaven harbour
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    What was it like to live in the tightly-knit fishing community at Newhaven, and to earn a living as a fishwife or a fisherman braving the sea? Newhaven Heritage Museum, situated in the historic fish market overlooking the picturesque Newhaven Harbour, brings the past to life. The story of the village and its people is told through reconstructed sets of fishwives and fishermen, historic objects and photographs, and first-hand accounts of people's lives.

    There was a fishing community at Newhaven from earliest times. In 1504, King James IV created Newhaven as a deep-water port and here, between 1507 and 1511, the 'Great Michael', the mightiest warship of its time, arose plank by plank.

    By the 19th century, the village had grown into an important fishing port. For many years, Newhaven fishermen supplied Edinburgh with oysters, shellfish, white fish, and sprats. They dredged for oysters in the winter months. In the summer, they fished for white fish and later, herring. In the 19th century, the bigger boats fished as far away as off the west coast and as far north as Shetland. The fish was sold at the local market.

    The fishing industry gave birth to building fishing boats, knitting fishing nets, and fish curing. Newhaven fishermen had a vast knowledge of the waters of the Firth of Forth. This made them an ideal choice as pilots. For many years, they met ships at the May Island or off Dunbar and guided them safely into Leith.

    The Society of Free Fishermen ran the affairs of Newhaven for hundreds of years. It acted as a local town council. It looked after the poor, education, the harbour, and streets. The Society also defended local fishing rights. It was finally wound up in 1989.

    The famous Newhaven Fishwives used to wear distinctive Flemish caps, brightly coloured waistcoats and aprons, and distinctive spotted kerchiefs. They bought their fish in the market and sold it to customers in and around Edinburgh and across in Fife. The fish were carried in large creels on their backs. For special occasions, they wore their 'gala' costume. The skirts were red and white and yellow and white striped.
    The local fishwives' choirs also wore this costume.

    As with many seafaring places, Newhaven is full of traditions and superstitions; don't whistle or sing 'Danny Boy', I'm told, or pass a nun on the way to the boat.
    Religion was also an important part of everyday life.

    Newhaven still retains a picturesque harbour. The once thriving Fishmarket is now converted into a smaller fish market which is still in use, a fish restaurant, and the Newhaven Heritage Museum. Some of the village, with its characteristic alleys and stairs up to first floor front doors, remains despite the ravages of the 1960s house build.

    To reach Newhaven from the city centre, take Lothian Bus services 10, 11, or 16 from Princes Street heading east or service 7 from the Bridges heading north.
    Daily: Noon-4:45pm. Admission Free .

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    The Royal Yacht Britannia

    by Drever Updated Dec 26, 2013
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    The Royal Yacht Britannia launched at John Brown's Shipyard in Clydebank in 1953, and served Queen and country for 44 years on 968 official voyages. She now bobs in serene retirement in the historic port of Leith, allowing visitors such as I to step on-board to enjoy the Britannia experience. Tours begin in the Visitor Centre on the second floor of the Ocean Terminal building where you receive an audio-guide.

    On board, hundreds of original items are on display, including prints, paintings, the baby grand piano, furniture, silverware, and gifts given to The Queen from nations around the world.

    At the Royal Apartments, we learn that the Queen and Prince Phillip had separate rooms on board though connected by an adjoining door. Philip’s is more masculine. The rooms themselves are small but airy. The Queen and Prince Phillip's offices are also different in style with his less fussy.

    The Sun Lounge on the Shelter Deck was one of The Queen's favourite spaces. Fitted out in teak, it had a feel of warmth and airiness. It offered privacy and here, Her Majesty liked to take breakfast and afternoon tea while enjoying spectacular views through the large picture windows.

    The Drawing Room, with its chintz-covered sofas, deep armchairs, and luxurious Persian rugs, witnessed both official functions and private entertaining. Princess Diana, Princess Margaret, and Princess Alexandra liked to play the baby grand piano, which sits in the corner.

    The State Dining Room is the largest and grandest room on board and witnessed spectacular banquets while playing host to the rich, the famous, and the powerful. It took three hours to set the 56 places for a state banquet. Measurement using a ruler determined the position of every knife, fork, and spoon. We viewed it laid for dinner with cutlery and glassware sparkling. Now, corporations can hire the State Dining Room to entertain important clients and receive the same meticulous attention to detail.

    Britannia's nerve centre was the 1950s Bridge. From here, the officers navigated, issued orders, kept the logbooks, and planned and plotted every mile of the ship's progress.

    The gleaming Engine Room is a testament to 1950s British marine engineering. The two pairs of high- and low-pressure steam turbine engines carried Britannia over one million miles. The Sickbay and Operating Theatre, with their original 1950s fittings, have a stark and slightly ominous appearance; Britannia doubled as a hospital ship in wartime. The original crew’s NAAFI shop now serves as a sweetshop where visitors can buy fudge made in the ship's galley, and other traditional sweets.

    Britannia carried a royal car for use in countries where official cars were hard to find. The royal barge lies to the side of the yacht.

    At the end of your tour, you hand back your audio guide and pass through the Britannia Gift Shop. It took us 1.5 hours to complete the tour.

    Visiting Britannia it is well worth the entrance fee: Adults: £12, Senior: £10.50, Students: £10.50, Children: £7.50, Family ticket: £35

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    Trinity House shipping museum

    by Drever Updated Dec 26, 2013
    Trinity House
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    Trinity House in Leith is probably the finest museum of shipping in Scotland. It holds rare artifacts dating back more than 600 years. Visitors can see fine paintings, including David Scott's vast illustration of Vasco de Gama passing the Cape of Good Hope. A collection of model ships includes a 68-gun warship made by a French prisoner in Edinburgh Castle in 1799. It is made from wood with painted details and is no more than 80mm high. It sits in its original mahogany and glass case.

    Trinity House began life as a charity in the 14th century for mariners. It was firstly the site of a medieval hospital for the sick, elderly, and travelers. Then it became, through trade incorporations, a place for sailors and related traders to retire and get care. Mary Queen of Scots, granted it a Royal Charter in 1566. The chest, which held the Royal Charter of the Incorporation, is on display but the Charter is unfortunately lost. Trinity House prospered, funded by a tax levied on cargo passing through the Port of Leith.

    The small port of Leith plays a big part in Scottish maritime history. In 1296, after the English captured Berwick, Leith became the principal port in Scotland. It remained so until the rise of Glasgow after 1707. With the number of Masters declining as the port traffic fell away through the 20th Century, Trinity House is now a working museum.

    Trinity House looks like a typical Georgian house, however vaulted cellars dating from 1555, which formed of earlier buildings are still accessible. Unfortunately, now sitting within the 1960s Newkirkgate Shopping Centre at the foot of Leith Walk, the surroundings are less than ideal but it is well worth seeking out.

    The building includes fine interiors, decorated with many scenes of the sea and the seafarer, including remarkable ceilings and black slate chimneypieces. A fine stained-glass window on the main stair acts as a memorial to those from the Port of Leith who lost their lives during the First World War. Paintings include a portrait of Admiral Duncan of Camperdown (1731-1804) by Henry Raeburn (1756-1823), which hangs prominently in the meeting room. Duncan, born in Dundee, defeated the Dutch fleet in 1797.

    Trinity house also includes the regalia of the Provost of Leith, before merger with Edinburgh. This unique property is in the care of Historic Scotland and a strong reminder of Leith's seafaring heritage.

    Any bus traveling from Edinburgh Princes Street to the foot of Leith Walk will take you there. At the foot, walk down through Newkirkgate Shopping Centre to Trinity House (4 miniutes). It is open all year but visits must be booked by calling 0131 554 3289. Because of the open nature of the displays, visits are guided tours only. It is indeed a hidden treasure but worth the search.

    Admission: Free donations welcome

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    The Shore

    by spidermiss Updated Nov 4, 2012

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    Lighthouse on Victoria Dock, Leith
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    The Shore was originally the Port of Leith and is situated besides the Water of Leith. The port was developed form the 18th Century. There are some notable buildings which were then an important part of Port of Leith. Intensive regeneration since then has took place and it's pleasant place to wander and have dinner in one of its restaurants.

    Signal Tower
    Built by Robert Mylne in 1686 for pressing rape-seed oil. It was converted to a tower in at beginning of the 19th Century and used for signalling ships when entering Leith until the modern docks were developed later on in the century.

    Former Seamen's Mission
    Originally a seamen's mission built in the 19th Century but now a Malmaison Hotel, In front of the hotel is the Merchant Navy Memorial.

    Victoria Dock
    Part of the development of the modern docks in the 19th Century and at the north end of the dock is Victoria Bridge.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

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    Visit the Royal Yacht Britannia

    by uglyscot Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    State Dining Room
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    The Royal Yacht Britannia was built in 1953 and withdrawn from service a few years ago. It took the royal family on world tours and entertained other royalty, politicians and friends.
    Visitors can see all 5 decks and the main things to see are The State Dining Room, The State Drawing Room, the Queen's bedroom ,the Duke's room, the guest bedroom, barracks of the Royal Marines.the sickbay and operating theatre, the galley, Engine room and the Royal Barge.
    The tour takes about 2 hours and all visitors have an audio guide.
    It is very intersting to see the shabby opulence in which the royal family travelled, and the cramped quarters of the crew who must have worked very hard keeping everything so immaculate. The amount of silver on display would need a lot of work alone.

    Opening times :
    March to October 9.30-16.30
    November to March 10.00 - 15.30

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Business Travel
    • Luxury Travel

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    Festival Of The Sea

    by steventilly Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Tall Ships

    From 23 to 26 May 2003 the 4 biennial "Festival Of The Sea" will be held in Leith (Edinburgh). Most of the events centre around the Western Harbour, the part near the Ocean Terminal.
    There will be a host of ships and boats there, pride of place going to the "Tall Ships". The Royal Navy will have a presence there and there will be nautical "entertainments" throughout the days.
    We will be there ;-))

    Related to:
    • Family Travel

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    OCEAN TERMINAL

    by hevbell Updated Jul 4, 2009

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    Ocean Terminal

    Among the new developements built in Leith in recent years is Ocean Terminal. Its a shoppping centre with a multiscreen cinema and also some restaurants as well as being home to the Royal Yacht Brittania which is only accessible through Ocean Terminal.

    In 2003 it even played host to the European MTV Music Awards!

    Apart from anything else if you are coming into Edinburgh by car its a good place to park, have a look round etc and then take a bus into town rather than paying the exorbitant prices to park in the city centre. The car park is open til 12am.

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    Statues in Leith

    by uglyscot Updated Oct 19, 2006

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    Sandy Irvine Robertson
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    There are a number of statues that caught my eye around Leith Docks. Some were of mariners or people related to commerce, but one particularly stuck in my mind, which was modern- a statue to a Sandy Irvine Robertson. It is lifesize and of him sitting on a bench. Most lifelike.

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    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel

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    Walk along Victoria Dock

    by uglyscot Updated Oct 19, 2006

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    lighthouse
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    The newly renovated dock area has quite a lot to see. There is the old Seaman's Mission which is now a hotel, there is the lighthouse, statues, iron gates and a pair of cannon.
    It is quiet and peaceful, probably a great contrast to how it was a hundred years ago.
    The Signal Tower is one of the oldest buildings in Leith , built about 1685 by Robert Mylne.
    Its domed roof and sails were removed and battlements were built on top. From these flags were flown to guide ships into port

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Beaches
    • Sailing and Boating

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    Royal Yacht Britannia - The Bridge

    by rdo911 Updated Aug 27, 2006

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    The Bridge
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    Your tour of the ship starts on the bridge.

    Britannia's control centre was the Bridge, which still retains much of its original 1950's appearance. As the central command point of the Royal Yacht, it was one of the most important places on the ship. It was from the Bridge that the officers navigated, issued orders, updated the log books, plotted, and planned every mile of the ship's progress across the seas.

    Other photos are of the Communication's Room and the Captain's Quarters.

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    • Historical Travel

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    The Corn Exchange building

    by uglyscot Written Aug 10, 2006

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    face of the Corn Exchange
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    Grain was an important commodity in the commercial trade of Leith.
    The building built in the neo-classical style has a frieze of grain around the top. The building is built of stone but could do with cleaning up!

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    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

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    Go Sailing

    by EdinburghRoc Written Jul 4, 2006

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    Sailing: River Almond; Cramond and Dalmeny Estate
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    Walk: Run; Cycle, Swim, Sunbathe, visit an Island, watch Sea-life, Seabirds.

    With the River Esk to the east at Musselburgh by the Race Course and Golf Course to the River Almond to the west by Cramond with its Golf Courses and the Dalmeny Estate across the river Almond leading to Queensferry and Port Edgar people can enjoy the fresh air away from city hustle and bustle.

    Related to:
    • Water Sports
    • Fishing
    • Budget Travel

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    Royal Yacht Britannia - The Rolls-Royce

    by rdo911 Updated Jun 24, 2006

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    Rolls-Royce Phantom V

    Whenever Britannia was to dock at a foreign port, the Rolls-Royce Phantom V was ready on board to take the Queen around in style. Strangely, the on board car was never used; a suitable car was always aranged in advance at each port of call. This car was ready just in case something went wrong upon arrival.

    It's housed on deck in a glass enclosed garage. It was a regular wooden garage while the ship was still in service. The glass was added to allow visitors to see the car and yet still provide protection for the extremely valueable vehicle. The car is still owned by Bentley Motors Ltd. but is on loan to the Britannia.

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    • Sailing and Boating
    • Historical Travel

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    Royal Yacht Britannia - The Sun Lounge

    by rdo911 Updated Jun 8, 2006

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    The Sun Lounge
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    The teak-lined Sun Lounge was a private area for the royal family to relax while on board. Large windows provided a spectacular view out the back of the ship.

    Check out a few more photos of the Sun Lounge I took.

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    • Historical Travel

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    Royal Yacht Britannia - The State Dining Room

    by rdo911 Updated Jun 7, 2006

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    State Dining Room

    The State Dining Room is the largest and grandest room on the ship. Throughout the 44 years of Britannia's life, this room has witnessed spectacular banquets and played host to the rich, the famous and the powerful. Sir Winston Churchill, Rajiv Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher to name a few.

    A banquet on board Britannia was an experience truly out of the ordinary. It took three hours to set the 56 places for a state banquet, and the position of every knife, fork and spoon was meticulously measured with a ruler. Today the State Dining Room is still used for exclusive corporate events and companies entertaining on board experience the same meticulous attention to detail and high standards of service that Britannia is famous for.

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    • Historical Travel

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