Edinburgh’s Great Outdoors: How to forget that you’re in the city centre
Did you know that each of the nine apartments at Abbey Strand Apartments at Holyrood is named after a former resident?
The passing of Sir Alexander Seton of Pitmedden left his widow Lady Margaret with ten children and a mountain of debt – a pretty savage move for the former Senator of the College of Justice in Edinburgh. Suddenly without lodging, Lady Margaret sought refuge in the sanctuary of Abbey Strand in 1719 and remained there for just over a year. Though her new dwellings were not quite what she was used to, we imagine that having The Crags so close by was something of a relief. Lady Margaret’s husband was the architect behind the Garden of Pitmedden – a beautiful stately garden now protected by the National Trust for Scotland in Aberdeenshire. We have no doubt that Lady Margaret would have frequented some of Edinburgh’s most famous gardens and green spaces, which are still enjoyed by tourists and locals to this day.
Gracious in tone and bold in approach, this city-centre sanctuary offers the perfect refuge for anyone looking for that all-important touch of personal space. Crafted to honour its namesake, Lady Margaret Seton, this tasteful apartment offers flashes of sumptuousness, reinterpreted in that scaled-back, 21st-century kind of way. The light-filled open-plan space is reminiscent of a luxe home-away-from-home, with inviting window seats that offer a regal aspect. Kitted-out with Nespresso coffee machine, dishwasher and fridge, the generously sized kitchen seamlessly flows into a dining area and comfy living room, ideal for indulging in some flat-screen TV-watching or general-lounging-about-and-considering-your-options.
With 49.2% of the city being green spaces, here are our top picks for experiencing Edinburgh Great Outdoors…
For the Edinburgh local working in the city centre, it's easy to forget that our glorious capital is one of the greenest cities in the world. With over 730,000 trees and around 49% green space, we're never that far from a little bucolic escape. Rambling heaths, woodlands, streams, wetlands, rolling hills, hidden gardens – is there anything this fine city doesn't offer? If you're craving a trip to the countryside, first check out what's on your very doorstep. Grab your picnic provisions, walking shoes and a friend or two and set out to one of these 5 rural Edinburgh havens:
Arthur’s Seat and The Crags
Each Bedroom at Abbey Strand Apartments at Holyrood boasts a stunning view over to the Crags and Arthur’s Seat, which means that it’s only a five-minute walk from your front door to base camp. Given the angle of the Crags, jutting out like a diagonal skimming stone stuck in the land, walkers are offered to the winds no matter which direction they face. So, layer up. But with the most rewarding panoramic views of Edinburgh ahead of you, lean in and face the wind. This walk is almost immediately satisfying, so worth the bracing chill.
Originally dubbed “Edinburgh’s Shame”, Calton Hill has now become one of Edinburgh’s most recognised and loved landmarks. Building began in 1822, but funds ran dry and celebrated Edinburgh architect William Playfair only ever saw a facade of his building completed. This unfinished business has not, however, taken away from Calton Hill's appeal: with its volcanic rockbase, gorse-strewn hillface and windswept ruggedness, the area remains a rough gem. Guests of Abbey Strand Apartments at Holyrood will be sure to visit the Dugald Stewart Monument; dedicated to the son of Matthew Stewart, who happens to be one of our Nine Former Famous Residents!
Dean Village/Water of Leith
So, you’ve travelled to Edinburgh but you’re not in the mood to climb any of our beautiful inactive volcanoes. Don’t you worry, there is plenty more to be explored! Dean Village is situated in Stockbridge (about a fifteen-minute walk from The Edinburgh Grand) and runs alongside the Water of Leith. Previously popular for water milling, this village is stunningly picturesque. Hidden here, you will come across a variety of mill stones and stone plaques decorated with baked bread and pies, adding to the quaint and local feel. Indeed, the area remains predominantly residential, so do be sure to respect people’s privacy. That being said, you will often find them willing to pose for pictures and point you in the right direction for the best walking routes.
One of the most fantastic aspects of Edinburgh’s location is that when standing towards the end of the Royal Mile you can look to the West to see new modern architecture, North to see medieval designs and dwellings, South to Arthur’s Seat and its rolling hills and then to the West to our very own seaside escape. Portobello is a popular sandy beach in the Edinburgh suburb by the same name, slightly less than 2 miles east of the city centre, offering exquisite views across to the north side of the Firth of Forth and out towards Inchkeith Island. Accessible by several bus routes, Portobello’s promenade comes alive in the Summertime with stalls and theme-park style attractions. However, it’s of popular opinion that the very best time to go is during the spring, when you can walk along the beach and enjoy the quiet escape from the city’s busy lifestyle. Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside…
There’s no other way to put it - this garden is special. It has such an authentic sense of place that you feel like you are one of the few to have discovered it. It is hard to believe that somewhere so peaceful, so city centre, was a building site until 1976 when The Mushroom Trust funded the creation of a new garden by Seamus Filor, landscape architect. The Mushroom Trust handed the garden over to the City of Edinburgh on completion and is still involved in its management. Most likely named after David Dunbar, a writer who owned the tenements at the garden’s entrance, this garden is just off from the Royal Mile towards the Canongate. A mere five-minute walk from Abbey Strand Apartments at Holyrood, our guests will often stroll over there to take photos or enjoy a good book. Most recently, Dunbar’s Close has become a perfectly secret spot for romantic proposals!
Thinking of visiting Edinburgh? Click here for more information on Abbey Strand Apartments at Holyrood, and how to book Lady Margaret Seton’s One Bedroom Apartment – live in luxury, explore like a local!