We are at the halfway point of the semester and it is coming to that time when we should all probably be studying or writing essays. Though this is hard if every look at the colourful trees outside the library’s window fuels your desire to abandon all academic pursuits and move to a solitary hut in the woods à la Walden.
If the bustle on Princes Street provides you with more stress than relaxation, may we suggest you go for a walk and take a deep breath of fresh air.
While Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill and the Meadows all have their charms, Edinburgh has even more green gems to offer that are less well-known. These alternatives include Dr. Neil’s Garden, the not-so-secret ‘Secret Garden of Edinburgh’ at the foot of Arthur’s Seat. Or if you want to moodily roam a graveyard without having your deeply philosophical ponderings interrupted by Harry Potter tour guides and their devotees, try Canongate Kirkyard instead of Greyfriars Kirkyard.
Close to Canongate Kirkyard is another hidden spot, Dunbar’s Close. This is a little romantic 17th century garden that feels like it is miles and not mere steps away from the hectic Royal Mile. Additionally, the National Museum of Scotland offers another opportunity to get away from the stressful city life, while its central location means you will not have to venture far. Did you know that the museum has a rooftop garden? There is even a lift, so you really have no excuse to not check it out.
Either by bus or by bike, Edinburgh’s beaches are worth a trip. With its neat beach, cafés and arcade, Portobello offers a wonderful holiday feel. If Portobello Beach is too touristy for you, journey to Cramond Beach and explore the old fishing village or walk over the causeway to the small island when the tide is low.
If you’re not quite ready to brave the cold North Sea, you could take a stroll along the Water of Leith walk instead. The river leads you to the quaint Dean Village and reminds one more of the countryside than one would expect from a river running through New Town.
For a hint of exoticism, try the Edinburgh Kyoto Friendship Garden. Located on the Lauriston Castle grounds, it is slightly further away from the city centre, but easy to reach by bus. Hope for good weather and take a good book and a picnic with you!
Obviously, hoping for sunshine might be a little optimistic, considering that October is Edinburgh’s wettest month. Don’t fret! The Royal Botanical Gardens has beautiful glasshouses that keep you from getting wet. The Tropical Palmhouse is also not one to miss and a nice way to remember what warmth actually feels like as winter creeps ever closer.
Edinburgh has enough green havens to keep you sane when the city and university get too much. Journeying through the beautiful Scottish landscape is a great way to clear your mind and keep stress at bay while ensuring you take advantage and see the most of your surroundings.
Image: Spencer Means via Flickr