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    A journey around Scotland: up and down the Royal Mile …

    Wednesday 5 September

    Today we are leaving our cosy wigwam at Morton’s Hall Campsite and we intend to spend the whole day in the old town of Edinburgh before taking the road to Glasgow. The weather is fine. In our journey around Scotland, we look forward with much anticipation to our last day in the Scottish capital city and our walk up and down the Royal Mile…

    So, with Gordon Wright pocket book in our hand,  let’s go now…  this time, we’ll go down the Royal Mile from the Palace of Holyrood house to the Esplanade of the Castle following Abbey Strand, Canongate, High Street, Lawnmarket and Castlehill.


     Scottish teddy bear  Neanie Scott shop Canongate Edinburgh  © 2012 Scotiana

    Scottie, a cute Scottish Teddy Bear – Neanie Scott Shop – Canongate street in Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana


    Take a look at our new friend…  he is not a ‘caddie’*, like the colourful people who roamed the old streets of Edinburgh in the olden times, but the chap knows the place pretty well anyway. He lives at Neanie Scott, 131 Canongate, and spends his whole day looking at the comings and goings outside so that the Royal Mile, so beautifully lined with its old picturesque houses, each one with a fascinating story to tell, has no secret for our plushy friend. Let us call him Scottie. Our friend is very talkative but, he grumbles, “you can’t hope to visit everything in the Royal Mile in a single day!”.

    It is true that during our previous trips we already visited the Castle, the Writers’ Museum, the Museum of Scotland, St Giles Cathedral, Greyfriars Kirkyard, the Abbey of the Holy Rood and the palace of Holyrood, not forgetting the Tartan Weaving Mill & Exhibition at Castlehill. Jean-Claude also went through the unforgettable Scotch Whisky Experience 😉 … Two days ago we visited Gladstone’s Land and re-visited the Pictish department of the Museum of Scotland and before leaving Edinburgh we intend to visit John Knox House and the Museum of Childhood, ‘the story of childhood past and present’, but I’m pretty sure that at the end of the day we’ll leave the place with a feeling of frustration, already dreaming of our next trip here.

    * caddies acted as town guides hired for their specialist knowledge of the city in an age before street plans and directories were available.Hugo Arnot wrote in 1799 that, “They are acquainted with the whole persons and places in Edinburgh; and the moment a stranger comes to town they get notice of it. (Wikipedia) “

    Below is a short extract of Gordon Wright’s book  containing key notions to keep in mind when visiting Edinburgh.

    A Guide to the Royal Mile Gordon Wright Steve Savage


    A CLOSE is an entry to a tenement, also possibly offering access at the back of the building. At one time there was a gate front entrance which was closed at night. Also describes an alley between two buildings.

    A WYND is a narrow winding lane.

    A COURT is a courtyard surrounded by buildings on all sides.

    A LAND is a tenement block of flats.

    A PEND is an arched gateway.

    (Gordon Wright – A Guide to The Royal Mile – Steve Savage Publishers)

    Holyrood Palace Royal Mile Old Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    Holyrood Palace – Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    After sharing a delicious picnic and a good cup of coffee in Holyrood car park, enviously looking at the people climbing up and down Arthur’s Seat, we set off in direction of the Royal Mile.  We just go past Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament for our time is limited given what we intend to do in a few short hours. Don’t forget, the museums and shops close early in Scotland 😉

    Tea time for Teddy Bears at Neanie Scott Shop Canongate Edinburgh  © 2012 Scotiana

    Tea time for Teddy Bears at Neanie Scott Shop © 2012 Scotiana

    At 131 Canongate, near Panmure Close, we first stop in front of the marvellous Neanie Scott shop where we meet Scottie 😉 I’ve already introduced him and you can recognize in him one of the first qualities of a good Scottish teddy bear:  never late for tea-time! 😉

    Dunbar's Close Garden on the north side of the Canongate Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    Dunbar’s Close Garden on the north side of the Canongate Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    At 137 Canongate we enter Dunbar’s Close Garden: a quiet and rather secluded space,  planted with shrubs and flowers where one can sit on an old bench to forget the bustle of the Royal Mile.

    A plaque reads : ‘Laid out  in the character of an Edinburgh 17th century garden  when it was donated  by the Mushroom Trust* in 1978 to the City of Edinburgh.’

    *The Mushroom Trust is a small charity which supports the creation and improvement of green spaces, particularly in urban environments, for the benefit of the public.


    Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe 145 Canongate Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe at 145 Canongate © 2012 Scotiana

    At 145 Canongate  we stop in front Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe, another marvellous shop, what an enchantment! A good reason to come back to Edinburgh at Christmas time. 🙂

    Edinburgh Royal Mile Canongate Kirk © 2007 Scotiana

    Canongate Kirk © 2007 Scotiana

    At 153 CanongateCanongate Kirk and Kirkyard.  King James VII built this church in 1690 for parishioners to replace the original one which was situated in the now ruined Abbey of the Holy Rood, near the palace of Holyrood. We visited it a few years ago. A place not to miss. Mysterious atmosphere and rich carvings.

    Edinburgh Canongate kirkyard © 2012 Scotiana

    Canongate kirkyard © 2012 Scotiana

    We love the atmosphere of kirkyards and the funeral art and though we had already visited Canongate Kirkyard in a previous trip we linger there, looking at the graves. That’s like a garden, it’s never the same!  😉

    In this silent and quiet place which looks like a walled garden, enclosed as it is between high walls and old houses, you walk among the graves where roses give a colourful touch to the old and mossy stones, trying to decipher the gothic inscriptions which are fading or even disappearing with time…

    Famous people are buried in Canongate kirkyard and among them:

    Adam Smith, Scottish philosopher and Economist (1723-1790)

    James Ballantyne (1772-1833) childhood friend, printer, publisher and secret partner of Sir Walter Scott as I can read in The Literary Traveller in Edinburgh, a fascinating book by Allan Foster and one of our favourites.


    Edinburgh Canongate Kirkyard Clarinda medallon © 2007 Scotiana

    Canongate Kirkyard – Clarinda Medallion © 2007 Scotiana

    Mrs Agnes McLehose Robert Burns’ ‘Clarinda’. The above photo shows the beautifully engraved medallion which ornates her gravestone.

    “Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
    Ae fareweel, alas, for ever!
    Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee,
    Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee.
    Who shall say that Fortune grieves him,
    While the star of hope she leaves him?
    Me, nae cheerful twinkle lights me;
    Dark despair around benights me.
    (From Ae Fond Kiss, a song he had written for Agnès)
    Edinburgh Royal Mile Clarinda's Tea Room 69 Canongate  © 2012 Scotiana

    Clarinda’s Tea Room at 69 Canongate © 2012 Scotiana

    A tearoom, situated at 69 Canongate,  is named after the pseudonym of Agnes.

    Agnes Maclehose (17 April 1759 – 22 October 1841), or Agnes Craig, known to her friends as ‘Nancy’ and to Robert Burns followers as Clarinda, was a Scotswoman who had an unconsummated affair with Burns during 1787-88, on which he based the song, “Ae Fond Kiss” (1791). The pseudonyms of her ‘Clarinda’ to his ‘Sylvander’ were adopted by the pair for confidential correspondence purposes.  (Wikipedia)

    Robert Fergusson, Scottish poet (1750-1774). He had a great influence on Robert Burns (1759-1796).

    Canongate kirkyard Robert Fergusson's grave © 2012 Scotiana

    Robert Fergusson’s Grave in Canongate Kirkyard © 2012 Scotiana

    In 1787 Burns paid to have a headstone erected at Fergusson’s grave with Burns’ verse on the front of the stone:

    No sculptured Marble here nor pompous lay
    No storied Urn nor animated Bust
    This simple Stone directs Pale Scotia’s way
    To pour her Sorrows o’er her Poets Dust.


    Edinburgh Royal Mile Robert Fergusson statue Canongate Kirk © 2007 Scotiana

    Robert Fergusson statue in front of Canongate Kirk © 2007 Scotiana

    Fergusson’s literary output was both urban and pastoral in equal degree. He was often an effective satirist and generally nationalist in themes and outlook. Although small, his canon stands as an important artistic and linguistic bridge between the generation of Allan Ramsay (1686–1758) and most later writers in Scots. His bilingual career was the acknowledged inspiration for the career of Robert Burns. Many leading makars of the twentieth century, such as Robert Garioch or Sydney Goodsir Smith, similarly recognised his importance. More widely, however, his legacy has tended to be unjustly neglected.

    Many works by Burns either echo or are directly modelled on works by Fergusson. For example “Leith Races” unquestionably supplied the model for Burns’ “Holy Fair”. “On seeing a Butterfly in the Street” has reflections in it which strikingly correspond with “To a Mouse”. Comparisons, such as between Fergusson’s “The Farmer’s Ingle” and Burns’ “The Cottar’s Saturday Night”, often demonstrate the creative complexity of the influence.Fergusson’s life also had one important non-literary influence.

    The brutal circumstances of the poet’s death prompted one of his visitors in Darien House, the young doctor Andrew Duncan (1744–1828), to pioneer better institutional practices for the treatment of mental health problems through the creation of what is today the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. (Wikipedia)

    Friends, Lovers, Chocolate Alexander McCall Smith Pantheon Books 2005

    Hardback edition Pantheon Books New York 2005

    I remember a passage I’ve read  in Alexander McCall Smith’s book: Friends, Lovers, Chocolate.  This passage takes place in Canongate Kirkyard…

    Friends, Lovers, Chocolate, which was published in 2005is the second volume in Alexander McCall Smith’s ‘The Sunday Philosophy Club‘ series.

    The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds Alexander McCall Smith Little, Brown 2012

    The last one in the series, The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds was published in 2012.  Isabel Dalhousie, editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, is to ‘The Sunday Philosophy Club’ series what Mma Ramotswe was to ‘No 1 Ladies Detective Agency’ and she gets caught up in every possible affair due to her irrepressible curiosity and love of mysteries…

    Below is the extract which takes place in Canongate Kirkyard:


    Friends, Lovers, Chocolate Alexander McCall Smith Pantheon Books 2005 backcover


    The man in the brown Harris tweed overcoat – double breasted with three small leather-covered buttons on the cuffs – made his way slowly along the street that led down the spine of Edinburgh (…)

    He crossed the street and continued down the hill. He walked past a fishmonger, with its gilt fish sign suspended over the street, and the entrance to a close, one of those small stone passages that ran off the street underneath the tenements. And then he was where he wanted to be, outside the Canongate Kirk, the high-gabled church set just a few paces off the High Street. At the top of the gable, stark against the light blue of the sky, the arms of the kirk, a stag’s antlers, gilded, against the background of a similarly golden cross.

    He entered the gate and looked up. One might be in Holland, he thought, with that gable; but there were too many reminders of Scotland – the wind, the sky, the grey stone. And there was what he had come to see, the stone which he visited every year on this day, this day when the poet had died at the age of twenty-four. He walked across the grass towards the stone, its shape reflecting the gable of the kirk, its lettering still clear after two hundred years. Robert Burns himself had paid for this stone to be erected, in homage to his brother in the muse, and had written the lines of its inscription.

    (Alexander McCall Smith Friends, Lovers, Chocolate – Pantheon Books – New York 2005)

    And  ‘ à propos de chocolat ‘ what about a piece of home made fudge?  The Fudge House at 197 Canongate is open and we can watch how they make fudge.

    Little bags of fudges The Fudge House 197 Canongate Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    Little bags of fudges The Fudge House 197 Canongate © 2012 Scotiana

    After tasting a wee piece of fudge, you will surely want to buy  a full bag of these famous Scottish delicacies! And here’s the place to purchase them because the Fudge House is one of the most famous confectioners in the country.


    Fudge and whisky at The Fudge House Canongate © 2012 Scotiana

    Fudge and whisky! Islay whisky!

    Canongate Tolbooth © 2012 Scotiana

    Canongate Tolbooth on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    At 163 Canongate: Canongate Tolbooth sheltering The People’s Story Museum… no time to visit even though we would have loved to!

    Canongate Tolbooth is a historic landmark of the Old Town section of Edinburgh, Scotland (U.K.) built in 1591 as a tolbooth, that is, a courthouse, burgh jail and meeting place, for the, then, separate burgh of the Canongate. The building is now occupied by The People’s Story Museum and is protected as a category A listed building.


    The People's Story sign Canongate © 2012 Scotiana

    The People’s Story sign in Canongate street, Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    The People’s Story is a museum with a difference. As the name implies, it uses oral history, reminiscence, and written sources to tell the story of the ordinary people of Edinburgh, from the late 18th century to present day. The museum is filled with the sounds, sights and smells of the past – a prison cell, town crier, reform parade, cooper’s workshop, fishwife, servant at work, dressmaker, 1940s kitchen, a wash house, pub and tea-room. These reconstruction’s are completed by displays of photographs, everyday objects and rare artifacts, such as the museum’s outstanding collections of trade union banners and friendly society regalia. A twenty-minute video presentation supplements the museum’s storyline.

    Edinburgh Antique Maps The Carson Clark Gallery 181-183 Canongate © 2012 Scotiana

    Antique Maps The Carson Clark Gallery 181-183 Canongate © 2012 Scotiana


    At 181-183 Canongate: the famous  Carson Clark Gallery.

    John Knox House High Street Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    John Knox House on High Street in Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    As we arrive in front of the picturesque house of John Knox but Jean-Claude realizes he must go back to the car park to put money in the parking ticket machine. Janice and I enter the house.

    John Knox House painted by Louise Rayner c. 1861 Wikipedia

    John Knox House painted by Louise Rayner c. 1861 Wikipedia

    John Knox House, popularly known as “John Knox’s House”, is an historic house in Edinburgh, Scotland, reputed to have been owned and lived in by Protestant reformer John Knox during the 16th century. Although his name became associated with the house, he appears to have lived in Warriston Close where a plaque indicates the approximate site of his actual residence.

    The house itself was built from 1490 onwards, featuring a fine wooden gallery and hand-painted ceiling. It belonged to the Mossman family of Edinburgh goldsmiths who refashioned the crown of Scotland for James V. James Mossman remained loyal to Mary, Queen of Scots when she was exiled in England. He worked in Edinburgh Castle making coins for her supporters who held the castle during the ‘Lang Siege’ on her behalf. When the Castle surrendered in August 1573, Mossman was charged with counterfeiting, hanged, quartered and beheaded. The house was forfeit for the treachery, and was given in the name of James VI of Scotland to James Carmichael younger of that ilk. The carvings date from 1850 when the building was restored. They are by Alexander Handyside Ritchie. The building was restored again in 1984.Over the next few centuries many decorations and paintings were added, and the house and its contents are now a museum. The building is owned by the Church of Scotland and is now administered as part of the new, adjacent Scottish Storytelling Centre.  (Wikipedia)



    Edinburgh High Street John Knox House inglenook painted ceilings  © 2012 Scotiana

    John Knox House – Interiors – Painted Ceilings © 2012 Scotiana

    The House is well worth the visit for its furniture and decorations. Notice the beautiful painted ceilings.

    Portrait of John Knox in John Knox House High Street Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    The shadow of a man with a long beard still haunts the place… was he frightening? I fear he was though I must recognize I don’t know much of his personal history and still less of his works…

    I’ve forgot to mention ‘Bible Land‘, with its beautiful carvings which is situated at 185-187 Canongate. But it’s not out of context to place it after the visit of John Knox house where the Bible is omnipresent !

    Bible Land 185-187 Canongate Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    Bible Land at 185-187 Canongate street in Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    The open carved book contains an excerpt from Psalm 133 (A song of degrees of David)

    “Behold how good a thing it is
    And how becoming well
    Together such as brethern are
    In unity to dwell”

    Now time to relax a little after our visit of John Knox House, not as austere as we might have expected however. We took much pleasure visiting it and, if John Knox is the most famous one he is  not the only character to have lived there, far from it…

    The sign of the Museum of Childhood 42 High Street Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    The Museum of Childhood at 42 High Street in Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    We are very eager to discover the Museum of Childhood which is just across the street at 42 Highstreet and Scottie hopes to make friends with some teddy fellows there…

    The Museum of Childhood Edinburgh  © 2012 Scotiana

    The Museum of Childhood – Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    But we meet more dolls than teddy bears in the Museum! We all miss them though we spend magical moments, lingering there for a long time in front of the wonderful windows.

    The Museum of Childhood children books Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    The Museum of Childhood children books © 2012 Scotiana

    It’s impossible to list all the places where we stopped! There are so many of them, funny, touching, colourful…

    Crafts Celtic Knitwear 164-166 Canongate Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    Crafts Celtic Knitwear 164-166 Canongate © 2012 Scotiana

    I just want to mention a last shop, of that blue colour I love so much in the old streets of Auld Reekie, a shop which attracted me particularly for…

    Edinburgh Crafts Celtic Knitwear Teddy Bear © 2012 Scotiana

    Crafts Celtic Knitwear Teddy Bear © 2012 Scotiana

    its teddy bears,

    Edinburgh A splendid knitted fair isle tam in the Crafts Celtic Knitwear shop © 2012 Scotiana

    A splendid knitted fair isle tam in the Crafts Celtic Knitwear shop © 2012 Scotiana


    its beautiful knitwear articles…

    Edinburgh Crafts Celtic Knitwear postcards celtic artefact © 2012 Scotiana

    Beautiful postcards and pictish cross at Crafts Celtic Knitwear © 2012 Scotiana

    and celtic objects ( Pictish books and artefacts).

    Greyfriars Bobby Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    Greyfriars Bobby – Edinburgh – Scotland © 2012 Scotiana

    I would not leave the old town without paying homage to my favourite hero in Edinburgh. On each trip to Edinburgh, since 2000, the year when we lost our dear Ralph, I’ve  never missed to pay a visit to the resting place of Greyfriars Bobby, the faithful dog… there is a red rose tree on the little dog’s grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard  and in our garden the rose-tree I’ve planted in memory of Ralph has never been so beautiful…

    But we immediately feel that something has changed since our last visit when we arrive at Candle Makers Row. The statue of the dog is always there, mounting guard in front of Greyfriars, the favourite place of the dog and his master.

    Edinburgh 30-34 Candlemaker Row Greyfriars Bobby Bar © 2012 Scotiana

    Greyfriars Bobby Bar at 30-34 Candlemaker Row street in Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    Only that picture with the black van just in the bad place… black?  YES indeed…that’s it!!…

    Edinburgh Old Town Greyfriars Bobby Bar Candle Maker Road © 2006 Scotiana

    Greyfriars Bobby Bar 30-34 Candle Maker Road © 2006 Scotiana

    It was red and now it is black….it’s the colour that has changed and that makes quite a difference. Don’t you think so?

    Well well well, that was a very busy day and now we feel like eating a wee something before leaving Edinburgh.

    The Abbotsford Rose Street Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    The Abbotsford Restaurant in Rose Street, Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    What we need to end the day ‘en beauté’ is a good meal in a cosy atmosphere and in a mythical place if possible! Why not the Abbotsford Bar & Restaurant?

    After a very cheerful welcome we are not disappointed by the menu and we feel so comfortable there that we  forget for a couple of hours that we have to find a place to sleep in Glasgow tonight and the weather is badly changing.

    Scottish teddy bear Neanie Scott shop Canongate Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    Scottie, a lovely scottish teddy bear from Neanie Scott shop in Canongate street – Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana


    So, it’s time to  go now… Bye Bye Edinburgh… Bye Bye Scottie… ‘ce n’est qu’un au-revoir!’

    But before departing let us get immersed into the magic of ‘The Athens of the North’. Talented people have captured it… marvellously. Many thanks to them !

    J’aime les nuages… les nuages qui passent… là-bas… là-bas… les merveilleux nuages!

    (‘L’étrangerPetits poèmes en prose, I Baudelaire (1869)


    The Parisian Prowler - Le spleen de Paris University of Georgia Press - Second Edition edition 1997  English

    A bientôt.


    Dressing up in John Knox house Edinburgh © 2012 Scotiana

    Mairiuna in John Knox House© 2012 Scotiana


    Other related posts from this serie:

    1. A Journey around Scotland: From Gretna to Edinburgh

    2. A Journey around Scotland: Roaming the New Town in Edinburgh

    3. A Journey around Scotland: A day in the Old Town of Edinburgh

    4. A Journey around Scotland: from North Berwick to Tantallon Castle

    5. A Journey around Scotland: From Tantallon Castle to Dunbar

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