Most people will know Edinburgh’s Royal Mile’s headliner – the Castle and Holyrood Palace – and although I think they’re worth every penny of entry fee, it does come to quite a few pennies to visit both. But they are by no means the only things to do along the Mile, so here are my Top Five freebies…
Museum of Childhood: When I was little, I found this museum slightly spooky, which is why I wrote about a ghost haunting it in Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile. But going back as an adult, it’s great to go and see bits of nostalgia tucked into the glass cases. Although it is slightly disconcerting seeing things you played with being displayed as museum artefacts!
National Museum of Scotland: I love this museum, easily one of my favourites in the world, to be honest. The floors covering Scotland’s history, the natural history display, and the magnificent central hall – it’s so easy to lose a whole day in there (as I have done, repeatedly). I’m already looking forward to visiting their latest exhibition, on Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites, and a whole study day about it, in October.
St Giles Cathedral: Right at the heart of the Mile, this is a stunning building, and even when full of crowds, has a real sense of peace about it. I’ve ducked in to avoid rain and sun over the years, and last time I visited (sun), the choir was practising; it was magical to sit and listen for a while.
National Library of Scotland: There are usually brilliant little exhibitions in here. Last time, there was a display of maps, including, randomly, a ‘smell map’ of Edinburgh, including where you could smell the sea (Leith). On a personal note, they also do very good pens…
Writers Museum: Well, I had to include this, didn’t I? It’s tucked away, down a little side alley off the main Mile, but worth heading down and then up the twisting spiral staircase. Plenty of trinkets associated with Edinburgh-based writers, and trivia alongside.
There’s so much to do, I’m bound to have missed somebody’s favourite – what else would you add to the list?
Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile: The bestselling Kindred Spirits series continues…
Along Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile, royalty and commoners – living and dead – mingle amongst the museums, cafés and former royal residences. From Castle Hill to Abbey Strand, there is far more going on than meets the eye, as ghosts of every era and background make their home along the Mile.
Returning to the city for her annual visit, Mary, Queen of Scots, is troubled by the lacklustre attitude of her father, King James V of Scotland, and decides to do something about it, with the aid of her spiritual companions. More troubling, though, is the arrival of a constant thorn in her side: her second husband, Lord Darnley.
Can Mary resolve both her own issues and those of her small, ghostly court?