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Edinburgh - Calton Hill and the city centre

Edinburgh Walk

County/Area - Edinburgh

Author - Lou Johnson

Length - 3.0 miles / 4.9 km    Ascent - 240 feet / 73 metres

Time - 1 hours 40 minutes    Grade - easy

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Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Edinburgh - Calton Hill and the city centre
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This walk offers a useful basis for exploring the city centre and at the same time visit one of the local viewpoints over the city. The city centre has many fine buildings and this route provides a way of sampling the architectural delights. The focus of the city is Princes Street, which is lined with shops on one side and flanked by Princes Street Gardens on the other. Overlooking this scene is Edinburgh Castle. Running parallel with this primary street are George Street and Queen Street which are less commercialised and lined with many fine buildings. It is worth noting that no attempt has been made to offer a detailed description of the many sights that are passed during the walk as there are many excellent guide books that cover this type of detail.

The route starts from the Scott Monument (Grid ref. NT255739) on the south side of Princes Street. From here, walk east towards Waverley Station. Continue west past the Balmoral Hotel into Waterloo Place. Ahead on your left is Calton Hill, reached by steps from the road, with the unfinished Acropolis standing out on the skyline. It was meant to be a replica of the Parthenon in Athens, as a memorial to those who had died in the Napoleonic Wars. Building began in 1822, but funds ran dry and celebrated Edinburgh architect William Playfair only got to see a facade of his building completed. Despite this incomplete monument, Calton Hill still provides a prefect place to look across the city including the length of Princes Street, Edinburgh castle, the cliffs of Salisbury Crags and Arthurs Seat.

Having enjoyed the view retrace your steps and walk back towards Princes Street. Take the first right, Leith Street, and descend towards the Glasshouse. Cross Leith Street and bear left in front of the Glasshouse to enter York Place. This is an extension of Queen Street. Pass the Scottish National Portrait gallery on your left and turn left into North St. David's Street to reach St Andrew's Square, one of many open spaces in this part of the city. To continue turn left again into George Street, laid out in 1718, and walk west along this beautiful street as far as Frederick Street. On the way you will pass the Assembly Rooms built in 1787. Turn right and walk up to Queen Street and then turn left. Continue to the end of this street noting the many fine buildings on either wide.

Just before you reach a circle (Ainslie Place), turn left down Glenfinlas Street and Hope Street to Princes Street. Cross the road and walk through the gardens back to the start. On your right Edinburgh Castle and in the distance ahead you might just see Calton Hill.

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