Edinburgh is a city of contrasts. There’s the medieval Old Town and the Georgian New Town, facing each other across a garden gully. The inner city’s wonky walls silhouette against Arthur’s Seat, the dormant volcano which dominates the skyline. Even the suburbs, which are small but reach to the coast, have their opposite in Edinburgh’s mini mountain range — the Pentlands. Regardless of the season, this is a city that relishes in its polar personality. It’s no coincidence that the author of “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” was born and raised here.
As the evenings lengthen and temperatures rise, Edinburgh starts to show signs of spring. The grey, Georgian townhouses are dabbed with colour from window box flowers. The grass on Salisbury Crags morphs from dull brown to bright green.
Spring is one of my favourite chapters in any city as excitement about summer grows, days get longer, and there are festivals each weekend. So here are four excellent Edinburgh spots to enjoy this season … Don’t forget your camera!
Probably the prettiest residential street in Edinburgh, Circus Lane is a curve of small townhouses in the heart of the Stockbridge district. Featured alongside Calton Hill in city guidebooks and all over Instagram, this is an iconic patch (although, being slightly further from Edinburgh centre means it’s normally quieter).
Take a stroll down this lane, past brightly-painted doors and blooming flower boxes, and watch the shadow of St Stephen’s Church slowly make its way across the cobblestones as the day continues. Once you’ve absorbed all you can of enviable houses and bright daffodils, there are some great coffee shops and Sunday food markets just around the corner.
Aside from the impressive Arthur’s Seat in the city centre, Edinburgh also plays host to another set of hills: the Pentlands. With over 100 kilometres of routes to roam, you can catch the bus there in just 30 minutes and you’re transported from capital city to countryside.
One of my favourite routes starts from Flotterstone, where you’ll find an inn, an array of tracks, and an iron-age fort all within short distance from the starting point. Either take the low-level tarmacked loop around the reservoir, or climb Carnethy Hill and Scald Law (the Pentlands’ highest peak). Whichever you choose, you’re bound to bump into the local lambs … a sure sign of spring if ever there was one!
A corner of Edinburgh already bursting with colourful buildings, Dean Village really comes alive in the springtime. Years ago, this cluster of former milling houses was completely separate from the city itself, but now it’s an oasis only a short 20-minute walk from the centre.
With the Water of Leith rippling past the terracotta and yellow facades, bright window boxes and neighbouring gardens, this village is a leafy escape from the madness found in the city centre. Enjoy the view from the Water of Leith footbridge and then higher from the arched Dean Bridge. It’s almost guaranteed you’ll be dreaming about retiring here before the day is done!
The home of Edinburgh’s most iconic view, it would be easy to disregard Calton Hill because it’s a travel guide “cliché.” In fact, it’s cliché for a reason: this is one of the nicest spots to take in the city sights as the evenings get longer and the sunsets more spectacular.
Whether you’re standing in the throng at the lookout point, or staring straight down Princes Street from the railed alcove under Nelson’s Monument, watching the watercolour spring skies here is always special. Edinburgh is washed with golden light, the red and white lamps of the cars get brighter as night falls and — all the while — the Balmoral’s clock tower ticks slowly as summer comes closer.
Where are your favourite spots in Edinburgh?