Wednesday, May 4, 2022—Edinburgh, Scotland

First, Edinburgh is pronounced (Edin burr a). Our morning began with a driving tour of New and Old Towns. New Town, complete with planned streets and elegant Georgian houses, is some 200 years old. Old Town is the name popularly given to the oldest part of Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh. The area has preserved much of its medieval street plan and many Reformation-era buildings forming part of a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A walking tour of Edinburgh Castle followed. Edinburgh Castle is a historic castle standing on Castle Rock, a volcanic plug which has been occupied by humans since at least the Iron Age.

There has been a royal castle on the rock since the reign of David I in the 12th century or even before, and the site continued to be a royal residence until 1633. From the 15th century, the castle’s residential role declined, and by the 17th century it was principally used as military barracks with a large garrison. Its importance as a part of Scotland’s national heritage was recognized increasingly from the early 19th century onwards, and various restoration programs have been carried out over the past century and a half. Few of the present buildings pre-date the Lang Siege of the 16th century when the medieval defenses were largely destroyed by artillery bombardment. The most notable exceptions are St. Margaret’s Chapel from the early 12th century, which is regarded as the oldest building in Edinburgh, the Royal Palace, and the early 16th-century Great Hall, although the interiors have been much altered from the mid-Victorian period onwards. The castle also houses the Scottish regalia, known as the Honors of Scotla, and is the site of the Scottish National War Memorial and the National War Museum of Scotland. The British Army is still responsible for some parts of the castle, although its presence is now largely ceremonial and administrative. Some of the castle buildings house regimental museums which contribute to its presentation as a tourist attraction. The castle is Scotland’s most and the United Kingdom’s second most-visited paid tourist attraction, with over 2.2 million visitors in 2019.

We spent the afternoon independently wandering the “Royal Mile” The Royal Mile is a name coined in the early 20th century for the main street of the Old Town which runs on a downwards slope from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace and the ruined Holyrood Abbey.

Narrow alleyways (known as closes in Scotland), often no more than a few feet wide, lead steeply downhill to both north and south of the main spine which runs west to east.

After spending the day in Edinburgh, we enjoyed a group dinner (Kay and I had fresh salmon) followed by Scottish entertainment of bagpipe music and a short ceilidh (pronounced kay lee). We enjoyed several of those in the Maritimes a few years ago.