Edinburgh in a Hop, Skip and a Jump
Edinburgh is a truly unique city with much to offer from its vibrant history and architecture to its cultural traditions and shopping and dining scene. If you are lucky enough to visit Edinburgh, take the opportunity to not only explore the historic treasures in the heart of the capital but venture further afield to get a real sense of Scotland and its spectacular heritage.
Let’s have a look at some different ways you can discover Scotland from the capital itself, visiting National Trust for Scotland properties along the way.
On Your Doorstep
In Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square sits a magnificently restored New Town house with fine collections of paintings, costumes and period furnishings. Designed by architect Robert Adam in the late 1700’s, this noble townhouse was at the heart of the capital’s New Town development and was a statement of luxury. There’s a lot to be explored in this Georgian gem – even the opportunity to dress up in costumes of the era and bring history to life!
Head over to Old Town to visit one of the oldest buildings on the Royal Mile, just a stones throw away from Edinburgh Castle. Gladstone’s Land is a 500-year-old tenement house which illustrates what life was like for the wealthy tenants who lived there. Enter the building through Edinburgh’s only surviving 17th-century arched shop frontage (don’t miss the gilded bird of prey that hangs over the entrance). Once inside, be sure to turn your eyes upward where you will discover the magnificent renaissance painted ceilings dating back to the 1620’s.
Insider Tip: Locals like to eat breakfast at Ivy on the Square, The Dome on George Street for afternoon tea (book ahead!) and Angels with Bagpipes on the Royal Mile for stylish Scottish fine dining. The best shopping can be found on George Street and Multrees Walk.
Hit the Road!
This road trip itinerary will take you on a tour of Edinburgh’s surrounding areas, stopping by sites that will give you a taste of Scotland from gardens to coastlines, as well as a little something for Outlander fans.
Drive time: 1 hour 40 minutes not including stops and just over an hour back into the city.
A – Edinburgh City Center
B – Malleny Garden
C – Preston Mill
D – St Abb’s Head
Start the day with a peaceful stroll around Malleny Garden to escape the hustle and bustle of the city in this tranquil oasis just nine miles outside Edinburgh. The garden hosts over 150 different rose varieties, their scents filling the air in the summer months adding to the peaceful atmosphere of the grounds.
The next stop you may recognize from the popular TV series Outlander. Preston Mill sits on the banks of the River Tyne and stood in for the part of Lallybroch, Jamie Fraser’s highland home, when he was hiding from the Redcoats in Season 1. Spend the afternoon discovering what life was like for the Scots who once worked at this picturesque mill then wander along the river to the 16th-century Phantassie Doocot. Make sure to look out for otters, kingfishers and herons on the way!
Finish the day off with one last stop for breathtaking costal views at St Abb’s Head National Nature Reserve. Follow the tracks along the cliffs and up to the lookout point to take in the spectacular wildlife and views of the North Sea. You could spend hours watching the thousands of magnificent seabirds who come to nest in these high cliffs.
To Stirling and Back Again
Just an hour drive from Edinburgh lies an intriguing and quirky property. The Pineapple was built by the Earl of Dunmore in 1761 when pineapples were regarded in Scotland as one of the most exotic foods around. Visitors are often left amazed by this unusual piece of architecture which is both strange and beautiful. The grounds boast woodland walks and wildlife can be spotted by the former curling pond.
If you’re a history buff, a trip to Bannockburn cannot go a miss. See for yourself the site of Robert the Bruce’s most celebrated victory in Scottish history. Venture indoors to the multi-award winning site cared for by the National Trust for Scotland including the chance to take part in a completely immersive 3D experience which puts you in the center of all the action making you feel like you have been transported back to medieval times to fight alongside William Wallace.
A trip to Bannockburn wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the nearby Stirling Castle. Although this is not a Trust property, which means entry fees will apply, it is one of Scotland’s grandest castles with major historical and architectural importance. It is cared for by Historic Environment Scotland who do similar work to protect Scotland’s heritage. More information and tickets here.