As the university workload becomes overwhelming and looming deadlines threaten our sanity, we often feel the need to escape. Luckily for us, Edinburgh boasts a variety of local getaways with loads to explore. The Stockbridge suburb of Edinburgh is only a ten-minute walk from Princes Street, yet a world away from the hectic and crowded city centre.
The picturesque streets have the feel of a countryside town, with a whole host of charming cafes and bars, artisan shops, green walkways and many more places to escape from the everyday bustle of the capital city. Here is a list of a few favourites.
The scent exuded from this little Cheesemonger’s, located on Bakers Place attracts customers as they stroll by. However, if this doesn’t catch your attention, a single glimpse of the old fashioned décor or the impressive selection of cheese, charcuterie, jams, preserves and wine, will certainly be enough to stop you in your tracks. Originally opened in 1993 on Victoria Street, it is easy to see why Iain Mellis felt the need to open two extra stores in Edinburgh, as well as ones in Glasgow, St Andrew’s, and Aberdeen. My recommendation is the cheese, ham and mustard toastie; indulgent, filling, and absolutely delicious. (Open 9am-6pm, 6 Bakers Place, EH3 6SY).
Open every Sunday, all year round, The Stockbridge Market is a must see whilst living in Edinburgh. With stalls offering boutique jewellery, medicinal soaps and handmade dog treats, there is something to please everyone, not to mention the attraction of their famous paella stand. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, the atmosphere of excited local customers and passionate, independent traders will make the trip worthwhile. (Open every Sunday 10am-5pm, 1 Saunders Street, EH3 6TQ).
A family run shop selling handcrafted products imported from Mexico, ‘Caoba’ is a hidden gem in Stockbridge. The incense smell as you walk in transports you to Central America. With a vast selection of beautifully handcrafted homeware, artisan jewellery and colourful decorations, you’ll be tempted to purchase everything in the store! (Open Monday – Friday 10-5, 56 Raeburn Place, EH4 1HJ).
Royal Botanic Garden
Originally founded in 1670 as a garden to grow herbs for medicinal purposes, the Royal Botanic Garden now boasts over 70 acres, filled with almost 273,000 individual plants, representing nearly 13,300 species. The garden is the ideal place if you’re looking for a peaceful distraction. ‘The John Hope Gateway restaurant’ is located within the garden in a beautifully sustainable building, complete with a wind turbine, rainwater harvester and solar connectors; the perfect spot to grab a coffee and a snack whilst immersing yourself in the tranquility of nature. (Open Monday – Sunday 10am – 4pm, 20a Inverleith Row, EH3 5LR).
Water of Leith
This walkway follows a river that runs for 24 miles from the Pentland Hills, down to Leith Harbour and into the Firth of Forth. Filled with plants and animals, this is the perfect escape for nature lovers. Starting the walk in Stockbridge, you can choose one of two routes. Go South West for a shorter walk to the picturesque Dean Village, passing the historical St Bernard’s Well or even heading to the National Gallery of Modern Art on Belford Road. Alternatively, follow the river North East to Leith towards Edinburgh’s lively port, which offers an excellent choice of restaurants and bars.
The Last Word Saloon
This cozy little bar is the perfect place for cocktail lovers. An underground bar, with gothic décor and inventive cocktails, ‘The Last Word Saloon’ guarantees a great night for those looking to unwind with friends over a few unique drinks. I recommend the ‘Rose River’, a sweet concoction of whisky, elderflower liqueur, lemon, rose and blackcurrant tea, vanilla and soda! (Open Monday – Sunday, 4pm-1am. 44 St Stephen Street, EH3 5AL).
image: Andrew Perry