Royal Botanical Gardens – Edinburgh

Excerpt from the book Travels through History : Northern Ireland and Scotland  Belfast and the Causeway Coast has been rated best region in the world to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet. In September 2017, Scotland was voted the most beautiful country in the world by a respected travel company, Rough Guides.

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The original Edinburgh Botanical Garden was founded in 1670 at a place called St Anne’s Yard near Holyroodhouse. This site soon proved too small and, in 1676, grounds belonging to Trinity Hospital were leased from the City Council: this second garden was sited just to the east of the North Bridge. The site was subsequently occupied by tracks of the North British Railway and a plaque on platform 11 of Waverley railway station marks the location.

In 1763, the collections were moved away from the city’s pollution to a larger “Physick Garden” on the west side of Leith Walk. In the early 1820s under the direction of the then Curator, William McNab, the garden moved west to its present location adjacent to Inverleith Row, where current visitors can enter via one of the two entrances, the East Gate on Inverleith Row or the West Gate entrance on Arboretum Place. The most famous features are The Glasshouses including the Temperate Palm House, the tallest in Britain, which was built in 1858.

I would recommend starting at the East Gate, simply because it’s closer to the centre of the city and because you are instantly introduced to an outstanding feature of these gardens, namely the sculptures. Even before I entered the garden, I was impressed. The gates at the eastern entrance are intertwined stainless steel representations of rhododendron flowers, designed by Benjamin Tindall and created by the blacksmith, Alan Dawson.

A local’s guide to Edinburgh: 10 top tips

The Scottish capital’s big draw is its festivals but the quieter corners are alive year round – with stylish cafes and bistros, moody bars and thriving art spaces

The Royal Mile – Edinburgh

Excerpt from the book Travels through History : Northern Ireland and Scotland  Belfast and the Causeway Coast has been rated best region in the world to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet. In September 2017, Scotland was voted the most beautiful country in the world by a respected travel company, Rough Guides.

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The Royal Mile is the name given to a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town. With all the historic buildings along this street, it came as a surprise to me to learn the name ‘Royal Mile’ was only coined in 1901 in W M Gilbert’s Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century. The name was further popularised as the title of a guidebook, published in 1920. The Royal Mile runs uphill from Holyrood Palace to the Castle. East to West it comprises Abbey Strand, Canongate, High Street, Lawnmarket, and Castlehill.

Visitors can spend an entire day sampling all the delights and sights along this single street in Scotland’s capital and that’s without doing any shopping. It’s always better to see a few things well than to see many things fleetingly, so pick your favourites and choose to spend more time at them.

Abbey Strand is the shortest of the five named parts of the Royal Mile and is only as long as the Queen’s Gallery, where items in the Royal collection are exhibited in the former Holyrood Free Church. There are also the remains of the gatehouse of Holyrood Palace built by James IV. The coat-of-arms set in the wall belong to James V and is not an original. With Holyrood at your back and looking up the Royal Mile, the modern building to the left is the Scottish Parliament. Work began in June 1999 and Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) held their first debate on 7 September 2004. Enric Miralles, the Catalan architect who designed the building, died before its completion.

Hippos, custard and tapas: the 10 funniest jokes of the Edinburgh fringe

The comedy channel Dave asked the public to vote on the best gags to emerge from this year’s fringe festival, and here are the results

All the fun of the fringe: Edinburgh festival 2015 – in pictures

Photographer Murdo MacLeod has been snapping the clowns, robots, fauns and performers at large at the world’s biggest arts festival