The Top to Tail Tour
The Royal Mile and Old Town are a recommended ‘must see’ for any visitor to Edinburgh and we’ll explore it from top to tail on our walking tour. From the castle perched high on its rock, we’ll walk down along the narrow spine of the Old Town with its historic high tenements to the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the bottom of the Royal Mile.
Our route will take us along atmospheric narrow closes (alleys) with their own unique history, stories and charm. You’ll discover surprisingly peaceful courtyards, hidden gardens and unexpected grand interiors, all only a few feet from the bustling main thoroughfare. Every inch of the ancient cobbled street has something of interest, easily unnoticed if you don’t know where to look.
You’ll find out about the local people who lived and died here and discover what life was like in the past, as well as some of the ancient traditions which continue to this day.
Along the way we’ll see the vibrant Grassmarket, traditionally the site of grain and cattle markets and where there are still many historic inns. This area was also the site of old Edinburgh’s gallows and there are plenty of authentic stories of the people who met their end here. Nearby is Greyfriars Kirkyard which we’ll also visit to unearth some fascinating tales from Edinburgh’s past and its colourful characters.
- Your tour starts at Edinburgh Castle Esplanade where you’ll discover the history of the castle and the rock it stands on.
- As we explore several of the most authentic, interesting and atmospheric closes (alleys), courtyards and historic sites and buildings along our route, I’ll tell you the fascinating, unbelievable but totally true tales of the people who once lived there.
- The Grassmarket area below the castle is also rife with history, tales of murder and some unexpected hidden surprises and views. Greyfriars Kirkyard stands nearby and here we’ll find part of the 16th century city wall and plenty of connections with Edinburgh’s past city characters, including a little dog called Bobby.
- We’ll discover the historic centre of the Old Town with St Giles Cathedral at its ancient spiritual hub. Nearby is the Mercat Cross and several buildings and markers with links to the city’s law and order, both past and present.
- We’ll walk along the lower half of the Royal Mile called the Canongate, once separate from the old town of Edinburgh, to see its charming historic closes and buildings to find out about its ancient origins, traditions, industry, workers and residents. You’ll also discover its crucial role in Scotland’s history both in the distant past and more recently with the building of the new Scottish Parliament.
- Finally our tour ends outside the Palace of Holyrood House and the remains of the ancient Abbey and an area that once gave sanctuary to many.
What you can expect
- A warm Scottish welcome from me as your local tour guide.
- Your own completely personal tour (for up to 8 people).
- As a qualified and knowledgeable guide you can trust that the historical facts and stories I have pleasure in telling are all well-researched and authentic.
- A comfortably-paced, enjoyable and informative tour.
- We do not enter any buildings where you will pay an admission fee.
Please note we do not go inside Edinburgh Castle or the Palace of Holyroodhouse during this proposed tour.
Unfortunately due to the terrain of the Old Town, this walking tour is unsuitable for those with mobility restrictions as we will encounter slopes, cobblestones, steps and uneven terrain. If you would like to custom this tour to suit your requirements, please fill in the enquiry form, giving your details and I’ll be delighted to help.
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.