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Chambers at Large in Edinburgh: exploring the castle & in praise of public transport

Updated: Sep 15, 2022

The capital city of Scotland is divided into three main parts: the castle, the Old Town and the New Town.

Entrance to Edinburgh Castle

In order to find my way around I made the good decision of taking the Edinburgh Bus Tour which was great value for money and extremely informative. It’s a great way to get one’s bearings in the city as passengers can ‘hop on, hop off’.

However, several members of the royal family happened to be in residence in Holyrood Palace at the same time as my visit and, when they wished to go out, the city pretty much came to a standstill. Certainly the bus on which I did my first round of the tour was held up in Hunter Square for almost three quarters of an hour as the royal entourage travelled up and down the Royal Mile, a central street linking the castle to the palace. I have to thank the guide David for keeping me and my fellow passengers entertained and for sharing a great deal of knowledge about this historic city.

One little quirky piece he pointed out was a gold pillar box, (usually red in colour) to commemorate Chris Hoy’s gold medal winning achievement in the Olympics 2012. I thought this a lovely idea even though I hadn’t a clue who Chris Hoy was and had to google him!

From the top of a bus I could see the various styles of architecture Scotland has to offer. From the Victorian towers of the Royal Infirmary to the concrete Brutalism of Argyll House to the fine lines of the Edwardian Usher Hall. There is plenty to catch the eye.

Edinburgh Castle sits atop a steep cliff, majestically overlooking the entire city and within its walls are museums dedicated to Scottish regiments who fought in numerous wars; a reconstruction of a prison; and the Scottish National War Memorial which is spectacular. There is also, just outside St Margaret’s Chapel a huge cannon called Mons Meg which I assumed was named after the saint, (but I was wrong. It was named after the Belgian town in which it was made). She is beside a battery of cannons which look over the city.

The museums within the castle are an informative but a sombre reminder of Britain’s and the world’s military history. A detailed history of the regiments is documented, but what struck me was a recent painting of a football match between the Afghan National Army and British soldiers.

Many years ago a colleague of mine at university did a thesis on the relationship between war and soccer, concluding that those countries who participate in world division football are less likely to go to war against each other and that football has contributed to a more peaceful society. If only that were still true.

Another section of the castle is a reconstruction of a military prison where prisoners of war were housed. The facilities were sparse and the food meagre, but I guess it was better than being killed. On a more upbeat note the castle houses the Honours of Scotland, or what I believed to be the Scottish Crown Jewels. Photography was forbidden but you can sneak a peak at the crown via Edinburgh Castle’s informative website.

The Great Hall has a fine display of weaponry and armour and was a reminder of the Great Hall in Stirling Castle which I’d visited at the beginning of my trip to Scotland.

I enjoyed my visit to the castle and learned even more about the King Jameses and Mary Queen of Scots.

Outside the castle I purchased a quirky painting of the city by a charming fellow called Omair. I love to buy paintings by artists as a memento of the first time I visit a city and I am delighted with my purchase. Thank you, Omair and I wish you and your fellow artists good fortune. (More of Omair's work can be seen on his website

Royal Mile surprisingly free of traffic due to Royal Family's presence

Finally, I must say that travelling around Edinburgh was a pleasure by bus. I stayed a little way outside the city in the Braids Hill Hotel (a big thank you to the staff there too) and caught the Lothian bus service into the city centre.

View from top of castle

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the service was prompt and reasonably priced. All in all, if I was to give fellow travellers advice, I’d suggest using public transport to explore Scotland. I am glad I didn’t drive as I would have missed out on so much. Thank you to all train, tram and bus drivers who made my visit so enjoyable. Kudos to you and transport service in Scotland.


Catch up with my other blogs of Scotland via these links:

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I was in Edinburgh for the Military Tattoo about 9 years ago so I enjoyed reading about the places I visited on that trip.

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