Edinburgh Castle perches high above the city on a rocky volcanic plug known as Castle Rock. She is moody and foreboding, often shrouded in bleak grey cloud adding to her mystery. Home to fortifications for almost two thousand years, she now welcomes around 2 million visitors a year. Whilst most people will take their photo from Princes St, leaning over the railings, dodging speed walking shoppers, these are my best alternative locations for a view of Edinburgh Castle!
Just before you reach George Heriots school on Lauriston Place (approaching from Edinburgh College of Art), take a left turn along Heriots Place. As you turn into The Vennel you’ll pass The Flodden Wall (built to keep out an English (of course!) invasion after defeat at the battle of Flodden) and then reach the top of The Vennel stairs.
The view of the Castle down The Vennel is absolutely beautiful and framed perfectly. The stairs have recently been renamed the Miss Jean Brodie stairs to celebrate 100 years since the birth of her creator, Muriel Spark.
At the West End of Princes Street, opposite The Caledonian Hotel, stands St Cuthbert’s Church. The burial grounds it is surrounded by are an unusual place to head for a photo but the view to Edinburgh Castle is quite atmospheric. This photo was taken around midday but visit at dusk when the lamps turn on for added ambience.
The churchyard is the resting place of a number of Edinburgh significants including the artist Henry Raeburn and mathematician John Napier.
The Princes Street Gardens didn’t always used to be gardens. Around 250 years ago draining of the Nor Loch began to create the gardens. The Nor Loch was part of Edinburgh Castle’s defence and probably smelled terrible with all of the sewage the flowed into it!
In Princes Street Gardens West you will find the Ross Fountain. Originally added in 1872, it was restored last year. The gold, rich brown and incredible aquamarine stand out against the Castle’s steely grey complexion.
So this may not be the most secret place and there are bound to be a lot of other people here (unless you visit early in the morning – the photo above was taken at 8am on a Sunday morning! ) but the Castle Esplanade is still a wonderful place to capture a photo of Edinburgh Castle! The views that you get across the rest of the city as you snap are quite amazing and the perspective of the castle is very different from any of the others on this list. Every Summer, during the Edinburgh Fringe, this space is filled with hundreds of spectators for The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
The National Museum of Scotland is a great place to visit on a rainy day in Edinburgh (and let’s be honest, the probability is high you’ll have some rain on a trip to Edinburgh!). It’s full of Scottish history and unusual treasures to search out including Dolly the Sheep.
But the museum also has a secret roof terrace on the top of the building. Search it out to get epic views across Edinburgh and back to the castle. You could also enjoy dinner with a view at The Tower Restuarant which is located at the top of the museum – I took my Dad for brunch a few years ago and it was definitely worth it!
This view of the Castle requires a longer stretch of the legs as you escape into one of Edinburgh’s peaceful city centre parks. You can find Salisbury Crags located in Holyrood Park where their jagged form juts out beneath Arthur’s Seat. The hike up is not as high or as far to climb as Arthur’s Seat but it can be dangerous. Be careful of the steep, sharp drops.