Up at 5:00 am I had my first few hours of sleep in over 24-hours and was feeling pretty good about it. Kim and I, with family in tow, got our gear in check and were out the door to take a series of taxis and trains to get ourselves to Edinburgh.
Mary King’s Close
We had a few hours planned with a whole gang of friends and family to take an in depth and somewhat underground guided tour of The Real Mary King’s Close. Unfortunately, cameras weren’t allowed, not that I’d get many good shots because a close (aka a privately owned alleyway), is dark. Mary King’s Close was very dark and very worth the tour.
The close was named after Mary King a wealthy merchant who lived in the 17th century (not many—if any— closes were named after women. She was kind of a big deal). The hour-long tour enlightened us as to how people lived, worked, and died all the while our guide led us through parts of old closes that are now hidden from the rest of the city.
Interesting tidbit: inhabitants of the close had one time of day to toss a bucket of their family’s waste, while calling out, “Gardyloo!” to warn anyone below to get out of the way, lest they want to be covered in all sorts of ugliness. Gardyloo is a corrupted combo of the French, ‘gardez l’eau’ (mind the water). A term that was still used up until the 30’s and 40’s when many apartments were without indoor toilets!
I swoon for them, their sound. Somehow the interplay of drone and chanter draws me nearer to the piper, a stillness comes over me and I feel something ancient in me stir. I don’t know what it is. It just is.
The next day, our smaller group of four made our way to Edinburgh castle.
High on Castle Rock (a long extinct volcanic plug by the by) sits Edinburgh Castle. It is assuroyala roya castle has sat atop the rock since the 12th century up until 1633 and subsequently was mostly used as military barracks housing a large garrison. Wikipedia tells me 26 sieges in its 1100-year-old history has laid the Castle’s claim to have been “the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world.”
Any Outlander fans? During the Jacobite rising in 1745 Edinburgh Castle was involved in such a historical conflict.
Moving on from the castle, we made our way down the Royal Mile wandering the High Street, wandering the Low Street. We wandered a little aimlessly looking for a place to grab a bite and rest our weary wandering feet. Well worth the aimless walk when everything you see looks like this:
I learned that due to the restrictions of the narrow landform of Castle Rock, Edinburgh’s Old Town became home to ‘high-rise’ residential buildings – 10 to 12 storey’s high – some of the earliest recorded.
Ever heard of Greyfriars Bobby? Meet the sculpture of the cute Skye Terrier who was made famous for guarding the grave of his owner for 14 years in the mid-1800s.
Where tourists come to pay homage to John Gray, the owner of Greyfriars Bobby.
After a couple days of touring and a night of dancing into the wee hours, we caught a train Monday afternoon to make our way back to beautiful, quiet Hexham.