My hidden Edinburgh

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American student Chris has been living in Edinburgh for close to a year and a half, and over the recent holiday break he discovered a few out-of-the-way places that he never knew existed.

Old Network Rail walking path

After living on Bryson Road for over a year, I thought I knew the area well. However, while on a walk one day, I stumbled upon a walking path nestled in a thin strip of green space hiding between Slateford Road and Harrison Park East and West.

The path starts as an unpaved dog-walking path but transitions to a paved surface, which appears to be maintained by Network Rail. The path is around six-tenths of a mile long, and it takes about 20 minutes to walk down and back. You can pick up the path at the end of Dundee Terrace where it meets West Bryson Road.

Autumn leaves along the side of the old network railway path
Old Network Railway Path with fallen autumn leaves covering the path

Miss Jean Brodie steps

This ‘hidden’ area of Edinburgh is proof that the city is full of surprises, even for those who feel like they know it well. I’ve seen the bottom of the Miss Jean Brodie Steps down in the Grassmarket where they are marked by a sign on the wall but didn’t know where the top of the steps started.

So one day, I decided to walk down Heriot Place towards the Grassmarket and came to the top of the steps where I was greeted by a magnificent view of Edinburgh Castle. Because the streets in Edinburgh change names many times along their routes, the city is full of places where you can be aware of what is at either end of a street but have no idea the streets are connected or what is in-between them!

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh streets

Söderberg central 

Just a few hundred yards from Heriot Place is Lister Square. When I first walked through the square, I was immediately reminded of a place I’d been before - there was just something about the new architecture alongside the old that reminded me of Norway.

Add to that the Swedish design of Söderberg and the taste of their amazing kardemummabulle, and you’ve got a very Scandinavian square in the heart of Edinburgh. Just around the corner is a Söderberg bakery - Söderberg The Meadows,and just beyond that is another Söderberg café - Söderberg Pavilion.

Soderberg Edinburgh
Lister Square Edinburgh

The Jolly Judge

Slightly off the beaten path is The Jolly Judge, a basement pub tucked away in James Court. After a holiday party, one of my local friends suggested we get a pint at his favourite pub, and so we headed from New Town over Waverley Bridge to North Bank Street in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. From there we entered a warren of little streets and squares in Old Town.

The Jolly Judge is a wee bar and can get quite packed with patrons, but it has a congenial vibe, an open fireplace, and lots of little corners to burrow into.

North Bridge Arcade

I’ve passed by the North Bridge Arcade dozens of times on the bus, and every time I am surprised because I’ve forgotten that it is there.

It’s not that the ornate entryway is nondescript, but in a city like Edinburgh, which is choc-a-bloc with amazing architecture, it is easy to miss things. Inside the arcade is a stunning glass dome that is worth a look.

North Bridge Arcade

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