Step off the busy tourist trail and back in time to discover some of Edinburgh’s best kept secrets and unmissable hidden gems. This tour will take you from the elegance and splendour of the Georgian New Town to the charming and historic Dean Village situated on the Water of Leith. This surprisingly tranquil haven tucked away from the crowds, but very close to the city centre, was once the historic heart of Edinburgh’s flour milling community.
On our tour we’ll see how the planned 18th century New Town advanced and spread to include Stockbridge, which was once a separate village and is now a vibrant area of the city. We’ll find remains of its past tucked away and discover more about the people who were most influential in its development. Our journey continues along the lush, leafy valley by the banks of the Water of Leith, a surprising refuge for birds and wildlife with a pleasant walkway for visitors.
The Dean Village is one of Edinburgh’s hidden historic and architectural jewels. You’ll see both the remnants of its once thriving milling industry and its other buildings from different centuries to find out more about the village, the people who built it, those who lived and worked in it and why it became a quiet backwater.
Our walking tour finishes at the West End of the New Town, where there is one last delightful hidden gem to uncover.
- Our tour starts at St Andrew Square where you’ll find out about the beginnings of the New Town over 250 years ago with stories of its planning, construction, neo-classical architecture and its success.
- As we walk through the New Town streets, both wide and narrow, past impressive monuments and through Princes Street Gardens, we’ll stop by monuments and to see inside some of the beautiful and elegant historic buildings where we’ll discover stunning interiors, hidden gems and unexpected architectural features. The buildings are free to enter. You’ll hear the stories of the people who lived and worked here, from builders, to scientists, doctors and writers and those who influenced history, as well as those that were inspiration for fictional characters.
- We’ll walk to Stockbridge, once a separate village but now very much a desirable, vibrant part of the city. Here I’ll share stories of its past and people, we’ll walk through streets to discover some remnants of previous times and secret picturesque places.
- Continuing along the leafy banks of The Water of Leith on its walkway we’ll discover the old mineral wells, St Bernard’s Well with its elaborate temple to Hygeia and the more overlooked St George’s Well. You’ll find out about the history of the Water of Leith itself and we’ll look out for herons, kingfishers, otters and other bird and wildlife as we stroll past.
- One of the highlights of this tour is the Dean Village and it will feel as if you have stepped back in time as you enter this hidden gem nestled in the deep valley by the Water of Leith. Once a bustling historic hive of industry on the main route into Edinburgh, the village’s origins date back to medieval times. Well Court, with its eye-catching red sandstone buildings, stands out as an architectural Victorian delight at the heart of the village. You’ll hear about the philanthropist who paid for its construction and more about the people who lived and worked here.
- Our walking tour concludes at the West End of the New Town, only a short walk from the Dean Village. On our way you’ll hear stories of the characters who made this part of Edinburgh their home. We’ll see how the New Town flourished and discover one of its ultimate hidden gems.
What You Can Expect
- A warm and friendly Scottish welcome from me as your local personal tour guide.
- Your own private tour (for up to 8 people).
- As a qualified and knowledgeable guide you can trust my historic information and researched stories as being accurate and true.
- A comfortably-paced, enjoyable and informative tour.
- There are no admission fees for any of the buildings we enter.
What to Bring
- Comfortable footwear
- Waterproof jacket and layered clothing. This is Scotland so we’re not always guaranteed sunshine on your tour. Sometimes it’s more like 4 seasons in one day! Please come prepared for our wonderful, ever-changing Scottish weather.
- A small bottle of water in case you get thirsty.
Due to the length of this walking tour and the slopes, cobbles and steps encountered along the route, unfortunately it is not suitable for those with mobility restrictions. If you would like a tailor-made tour to suit your requirements, please fill in the enquiry form with your details and I’ll be happy to help.