I headed to Edinburgh and decided to make use of the Park & Ride. I’m not a big fan of buses, or any kind of public transport for that matter, but it seemed like a good way to get in to the centre of a city I know nothing about. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Park & Ride took me three leaflets to figure out, and when I got to the centre, the road I was meant to get off on was closed so I ended up somewhere else. That meant I was the wrong side of the castle, and I walked all the way round the entire thing before I found the door. Gate. Drawbridge. Whatever.
It was very pretty when I did though.
I had pre-booked my ticket which meant I got to skip the queue. It wasn’t too bad a queue – their website makes it sound much worse – but it was a Thursday morning, so not exactly prime time. I dread to think what it’s like on a Saturday, in the summer holidays.
The first thing that struck me when I got inside was how castles really are made up of regular buildings. It looked like a normal street but within the castle walls. I’ve seen Robin Hood, and I’ve read plenty of castle-related books, but I’d not seen it in real life. It was fascinating to see all the buildings, labelled up with who would have lived there.
You can wander round some of the nooks and crannys, get up close to the cannon, and peer over the battlements. There are a few places where you can get some stunning views of Edinburgh. Truly gorgeous. My one complaint is that it was crazy windy, so I didn’t stay on the tall bits any longer than I had to. Once you step down behind the walls, though, you couldn’t tell any of the weather except the sun ahead. I suppose that is the point of a castle, isn’t it? Protection from armies, from arrows, and… the wind.
I was a big fan of the fact that photography is very welcome in most of the castle, with just a few places off limits. One of those was the Scottish Crown Jewels exhibition. It was a nice exhibit, which was supposed to take you 25 minutes to get around, but I raced through it. I wanted to see the sparkly things. They are very sparkly! But I’m afraid I have no photos. Apologies for that.
The two other bits of the castle I found fascinating were the well, which seemed such an awful way to have to get water. Everyone in the castle, drawing water from this one well, which had a sign saying there was no way it kept up with demand in ye olden days. Drawing water from a well that might not have any water is even worse!
(As a side note, I had to wait for about ten minutes to get that picture with no people in it. The well was a very popular point of the castle, despite being quite small. I waited and waited, and finally took my chance. A little boy was running towards the well and I pretty much shouted: “Waiiiiiit.” Yay for a photo empty of tourists though.)
The cannons were also an interesting sight. There was one particular section, a quarter-circle of cannon pointing out over the city, that just brought history to life in my head.
Most of the castle did that, actually. Strolling the streets, I could just imagine people hurrying around, messages going to the King or Queen, warriors on horseback being dispatched, people opening up market stalls and fires breaking out. I suppose it is all down to reading Pillars of the Earth very recently, as that takes place in castles and the like in the 12th Century. There was an audio tour available for a few extra pounds but I didn’t want to take it because I didn’t want to ruin the image in my head.
I very much enjoyed visiting Edinburgh Castle and would recommend it to all, but be warned. There are lots of tourists also enjoying the attraction. It gets busy. Try going on a Thursday.
More photos on Flickr.