My 5 favourite things about Stockbridge in Edinburgh

Stockbridge in Edinburgh feels like a village within the city. Edinburgh has a lot of areas like this precisely because at one point in time they were just that. Back when the High Street and the Castle overlooked the loch (now Princess Street Gardens) and before the New Town area was built the outlying areas were villages and suburbs. Travel a little farther down the hill from the New Town and areas such as the Dean Village, Stockbridge, Cannonmills and even Leith (Leith was only added into Edinburgh in the 1920s) all have their own feel. Still very much part of Edinburgh – but with a little bit of history of their own. Stockbridge is the go-to place, in my opinion, to relax. Here is why:

1. It has History

The old name was stock brig in Scots. Walk down via St Stephens street and you will find the prettiest little corner and street with some fabulous local shops and boutiques.

St Vincent’s Church on the corner of St Vincent and St Stephen’s street

Just off St Stephen’s street a bit further down into the heart of Stockbridge is the old market place. No longer there but the arch away (my favourite in Edinburgh with the exception of those in the Castle) still bears the name.

Stockbridge was always quite bohemian. Initially a retreat for the fancy folk to take respite and drink the water from St Bernard’s well (just a short walk along the river) it eventually became the haunt of artists, doctors and all-sorts. If you drink in the Tic (Antiquity bar) you still feel this influence and wonderful mix of people. It was also the place where the shop of Madam Doubtfire was located (the name which inspired the book title and film). She was friends with Dora Noyce who apparently ran the best brothel in the city. This was back in the fifties to the seventies. There aren’t any brothels any more, thankfully, but it adds to the history and character of the place.

2. The River of Leith

The Water of Leith runs through Stockbridge (makes sense that there is a river under the bridge). Lots of people walk the full length. I prefer to just frequent the bits near to me so that I am never that far from a great coffee shop. The pathways make you feel like you are in the countryside and it is such a pretty place to sit and watch the world (or Edinburgh walker/joggers/cyclists) go by.

Water of Leith beside the Colonies

Go west along the river and there is a great place to sit beside’s St Bernard’s well (you get the afternoon sun). Go east and my favourite houses, the Colonies, are nestled beside the river.

Stockbridge Colonies (I had friends who lived here once and put on the most amazing our youth :-))

3. Inverlieth Park – the view

If you can’t manage to get a free seat outside the Reaburn (pub/boutique hotel with a beer garden) or my favourite coffee shop Whiskers) then the best place to go in good weather is Inverleith park on the hill overlooking the pond.

The new rugby stand is being built. Just to the left out of view is the cricket ground and there are views up to the castle

I sat out with a coffee on Monday. Just reading my book and trying to get a sun tan on my arms and feet. The views of Edinburgh are spectacular here. Right up to the castle which means that it is the best place to catch the fireworks at the end of the Edinburgh festival and also at new year. You do have to bring your own bottle, but the bonus in Edinburgh (unlike Glasgow) is that we are allowed to consume alcohol in parks. So everyone on Hogmanay has a bottle to head out from the local pubs near to midnight to catch the show. For all these reasons Inverleith park is a favourite place of mine. I even used to do British Military Fitness there, and a bit of running (possibly not my favourite thing about the place 😊).

4. The shops

Stockbridge has loads (this is not an underestimate) of charity shops. I’m not the biggest fan of rummaging through things but I always think I should try more often as you can get some really good buys. My favourite shops are the jewellery shops. Sheila Fleet (a jeweller from Orkney) has a shop on St Stephen’s street and there is a great wee jeweller called Annie Smith on Raeburn place. If you can find it nestled down a little alleyway on Raeburn place Gallery Mirage has lots of choice from all over the world. The great thing about these jewellers are their independence and choice. I have something from each of them.

If jewellery isn’t your thing then there are lovely little clothes shops, an old oil lantern shop (I’ve never been in but the window on St Stephen’s street looks like something out of a Dicken’s novel), art dealers and lots of shops with bits and bobs.

5. Great places to eat and drink

Far too many to mention them all but eating and drinking in Stockbridge offers something for everyone. Bells Diner has been here for, well forever. My mum and dad used to take us there for dinner when we were little. Nocks Kitchen is one of the nicest Thai restaurants in Edinburgh. Tom Kitchin (who has a michelin star for another restaurant in Edinburgh) and Dominic Jack have the relaxed Gastro style place called the Scran and Scallie. There is another place called Rollo just across the road which is a firm favourite of my friends and myself (there is also on now on Broughton street). There are loads more places, I just haven’t tried them all.

Pub wise the Raeburn is great for the beer garden, the Antiquity for their cheesy fries and the Bailey for traditional surrounds and to watch the rugby. If one place is too busy to get a seat in, you just head to the next. Stockbridge has a relaxed atmosphere and the pubs are no different. If you are just after a coffee and some food then try Whiskers. On Raeburn place I always check out whether they have any seats free outside if it is sunny. If so I park myself here to watch the world go by. If not I head along with a coffee to go to Inverlieth Park.

Basically Stockbridge is my go-to place to relax and meander. I probably have more favourite things about it. No doubt I will probably blog more about this gorgeous wee part of Edinburgh in my future blogs.

Edinburgh Castle, Cannons and The Cannonball

My sister didn’t want to do the lunch booking (she usually does). So since I have had a week off work, and this was planned in with my sis and mum, I took on the job of picking the place. I very nearly chose Noks Kitchen which is a firm favourite and a short walk along the road to Stockbridge. But….living in Edinburgh (and growing up here) is a gift. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world (my next favourite is Rome), so I decided on a recommendation in the heart of the city and right next to the castle.

The Cannonball

I had never been before but took an article at its word for this being a great place for food. They were right. The setting is magnificent. Right next door to the esplanade of the Castle this building started off as a Duke’s who was ‘Keeper of the Castle’. From then to now it was an old Edinburgh tenement, to burnt out shell to School House to building used for a variety of things before the Contini’s took it on and made a great restaurant and Bar.

The nicely priced lunch set menu was probably underpriced. I started off with haggis balls and then a steak sandwich. Missing out on the desert was a mistake. My sister’s chocolate mousse looked like something from Masterchef. From her ooh’s and ahhhh’s it clearly was delicious. All in all this was a win. When you live in Edinburgh you rarely get that close to the castle as we tend to favour certain areas and restaurants. Edinburgh is a collection of villages which were joined together by the New Town and once in a while we should all go back to the heart of the city (avoiding the many tourists) to bask in its beauty. The Cannonball gives you this. It is right next to the castle and the restaurant has lovely views over the castle. It is that sort of place where you touch the walls in the knowledge that there is history and we should connect to it. It was also really good food and Ill definitely be back.

So…over a glass of good Malbec the suggestion was made to visit the Castle. Why would we not. I had heels on (boots thankfully so comfy enough) and we were a bottle down but…It was right there! Too tempting.

The Cannons

Its not the cheapest but it is bloody beautiful. Walk through, pay, and the first thing you come to are the cannons lining the walls. The One o Clock gun is a bit new age (they old things obviously only throw out real cannonballs rather than just the noice) but there are plenty of the old yins. Never stop at these though. Mons Meg is up the way and this cannon is something to behold with a history even England would be jealous of.

Mons Meg: built in 1449

The Castle

Edinburgh castle is stunning and I am always in awe of it. The view from Princess Street is good enough but a walk around it reminds me of the romantic nature of us Scottish folk. The surprising thing is how little it can feel even in its statuesque position on the hill overlooking the gardens (when built it was a loch and the New Town didn’t exist). The great hall is magnificent, the Stone of Destiny touches most hearts and the tiny chapel is simple yet ornate.

The Great Hall

My tips. Try the whisky. Don’t wear heels. Head down to Deacon Brodie’s for a pint afterwards. But also just bask in it. Kings, Queens, intrigue, deception and many a story have come from that castle. We are lucky to have it. We will always have it. In some ways I feel I should visit more but it is always there, overlooking Edinburgh. I go enough for an ‘Edinburgher’. I’ll definitely be eating next to it more.