It was the first time I’d been up this street. Or should I say up the stairs? My stomach stuffed with Lovecrumbs coffee and cake, I weaved back down to the Grassmarket and saw the sign. The Vennel. My camera bag was over my shoulder; the first time it had escaped my office drawer since Monday (always the sign of a hectic week). I unzipped its corners and began climbing.
It was a short ascent, one of those that are an unwelcome reminder of how unfit you really are. Once the traditional buildings began to twist into pebbledashed, unpicturesque walls, I stopped. Turned. And — as I’m discovering so often in Edinburgh — no matter how many times you’ve seen a view in a guidebook or on Instagram, the cliché never does justice to just being there. From this slender alleyway, I stood above the quaint streetlamps, apartments and market square with Edinburgh Castle looking me straight in the eye.
From there, I left the calm alley oasis and weaved my way back through the premature Friday night revellers, who were beginning to cluster outside the bars. I curved up colourful Victoria Street, spotted with scaffolding, before joining the blend of tourists and office workers on the Royal Mile. There’s something about this city, so compact but so rich in culture, that attracts me outdoors — even after a week of work — like a moth to a flame.