Trying to work out what you can do with limited time and funds in Edinburgh? Well I crammed my visit into just 7 (yes, really!) hours. It is definitely doable, and what’s great about this is that if you’re anywhere near the West Coast Mainline you can have a nice little daytrip to Edinburgh!
Life is currently hectic. I am up to my eyeballs in GCSEs, A Levels and everything in between and around it! Way back in April (Friday 7th, to be precise) I stole myself away from the dull and dreary of Greater Manchester life and hopped on a train to Edinburgh!
The first Friday in my school* Easter Holidays I headed up on an early morning train to the capital city of Scotland: Edinburgh! I went to Edinburgh last around the turn of the Millennium, and I certainly haven’t been since my primary school days ended. Despite this, I have a lot of strong memories of being there (many of which pertain to me getting Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban from a shop with my birthday money, we also saw the Military Tattoo).
I hurtled through fields full of sheep and all sorts of exciting things that populate Cumbria and the North. I finally arrived at my destination shortly after 11am.
The first thing I did (and I’m unashamed to admit this!) when I arrived in Edinburgh was to come out of the train station at the wrong exit, be met with a bunch of roadworks and walk away from the noise. For this, I encountered some giraffe sculptures and a statue of Sherlock Holmes in commemoration of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I also went all the way to the top floor of John Lewis to have a wee.
Following this… I righted myself and headed up towards Edinburgh castle.
Walking up the Royal Mile is possibly the most touristy and least authentically Scottish thing I have ever done. I hear more Scottish accents in Greater Manchester. Granted there was tartan and woollen mill shops and a few guys playing bagpipes but it felt less Scottish than I expected Scotland to feel. If that makes any sense?
When I arrived at Edinburgh Castle I did what I’d recommend anyone else travelling on a budget and a time limit do: I did not pay the £17 to go in the castle. I enjoyed the views, took some photos and planned my route down to the bottom. I’m not saying don’t go to the castle, I’m just saying that is £17 and 2 hours of your time something you can afford? I plan to return when I can share that with someone, but as a solo traveller on limited time and funds it wouldn’t be wise.
There was only one place that I had planned to visit when I went up to Edinburgh, and (I am a literature graduate after all!) that was The Writers Museum. The Museum itself is down one of those little intriguing alleyways that jut off from the side of the Royal Mile. I’m quite a big Robert Louis Stevenson fan, and through my tutoring, I get the absolute pleasure of teaching The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde so I thoroughly enjoyed my time in this museum. The museum itself is quite small, which I really enjoyed and with it being quite quiet on the day that I visited I could move through at my own (rather slow pace).
When I left The Writers Museum, I headed in search of a bookshop that I remember from years ago. It was still there, but smaller and less impressive than I remember, so we’ll skim over that and… yeah. But this particular street was actually what inspired JK Rowling’s Diagon Alley and so I just enjoyed being there. It’s really clear to see why looking at the shop fronts!
Following this, I headed for lunch at The Potato Shop. Being vegan, you get used to not having many food options so when you can literally have 90% of the menu it can get a bit overwhelming. I eventually just had the woman behind the counter decide for me, and she made a good decision!
After lunch, I headed to the Children’s Museum. I’m really interested in how people’s, and in particular children’s, have changed as time has progressed and this is a museum that didn’t disappoint. There were toys and games from over a century ago on display and some interactivity on offer (including a Duplo board on the wall that I played with!), as well as a look at how education and clothing have changed for children too. The gift shop doesn’t disappoint to say it’s so small but I was quite conservative and opted for some pencils and a rubber (eraser) in the shape of a book.
Following this, I just went in and out of the different museums down the Royal Mile before settling in Starbucks for a much-earnt rest, vanilla almond milk latte and plan ahead my remaining hour or so.
When I’d supped my brew I headed down to the bottom of the Royal Mile where the Scottish Parliament buildings and Holyrood Palace are. I’d have liked to see inside the Parliament building but unfortunately, my pit stop proved to have zapped be of available time and the building was due to close when I arrived. I don’t mind too much because it means I have to go back to Edinburgh still!
With most things of interest to me now closed, I set off for a wander around the general Edinburgh area, taking in all of the views on offer, before finally getting onto the train back down to Wigan.
I have to say, that was the worst train journey I ever endured! Anyone who knows me will know that if I’m booking a seat on the train I will endeavour to have a table/ plug socket to ensure that I have enough phone power for safety reasons on the other side. This is something I did get, however, I had to sit on the most crowded table ever (literally), everyone seemed to be eating meat and dairy and I wanted to vom, the guy next to me literally fell asleep and his girlfriend spent the whole time complaining that her phone had low battery and looking at me as though I was going to give over the plug socket. It really ruined my plans to chill and watch Big Hero 6 on the way back!
*I use the school I do my Beanstalk volunteering at as the “fixed holidays” because my tutoring students’ holidays are all over the place!