One of the many things I like about Edinburgh — aside from its dependable, beautiful architecture and its constant greenery — is its walkability. Although the suburbs stretch far towards the hills and beaches which ring the city itself, Edinburgh’s iconic neighbourhoods (like Stockbridge or Dean Village) are within easy walking distance of the town bustle.
That’s how Sunday wanders have become a bit of a routine for us. We’ll leave the flat at lunchtime, tummies full with a late breakfast, and we’ll just walk (see map below). Down Broughton Street’s slight descent (with the compulsory coffee and cinnamon bun stop at Soderberg) and on through the Georgian New Town with its colourful doors, framing potted plants and fancy cars. It’s maybe twenty minutes further on — after pausing on Edinburgh’s prettiest street, Circus Lane — that we reach Stockbridge.
On a Sunday, this bourgeois area of town is bustling. It’s market day, a flashback to days long ago where supermarkets only existed in sci-fi novels. Clouds of people mingle, gazing longingly at the lumps of paella steaming in the pan, eyeing up cakes and macarons, and touching delicate jewellery and leather goods. There’s a relaxed atmosphere as crowds find a space to stand and eat, or sit with a coffee and watch the street traffic wax and wane.
Stockbridge gives way to long streets and suburbs and fifteen minutes later — after following the flow of the Water of Leith — we reach the Royal Botanic Gardens. With 70 acres of greenery, themed grounds and woodland walks, the Botanics is — although busy — one of the best places to shed your city skin for a few hours.
Right now, as the mercury rises and the sun stays in the sky for longer, plants are beginning to stir. Crocuses poke out of the long lawn in front of Inverleith House; squirrels scrape at the soil for the loot they buried last winter; the clumps of snowdrops are slowly beginning to fade in the February daylight. I say I love every season more than the last, but there truly is something lovely about the world around you awakening again after the wild winter and long nights.