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Hidden Edinburgh – 6 secret places in the city

Overflowing with the hustle and bustle of tourists and busy locals, like every capital city should be, many will be surprised to learn that Edinburgh is also peppered with secret gems hidden away from the usual crowds.

Morningside Wild West

Blink and you will miss this secret location offering a taste of the Wild West in Edinburgh’s South Side. Built in 1995 by Michael Faulker as part of a sales gimmick for a furniture business, this quirky Street in Morningside is made up of saloon style buildings reminiscent of the American Southwest. Most of the buildings now lie empty, with only a couple being used as workshops and garages, but they remain unchanged and anyone who ventures will feel like they’ve stepped on to a Wild West movie set.

Morningside Wild West

Advocate’s Close

Weaving through Edinburgh’s historic and atmospheric old town are a number of narrow streets and closes leading to secret spots. Wander down Advocate’s Close and you will encounter buildings dating as far back as the 15th Century. This narrow back street in Edinburgh was recently part of a restoration project that won one of the UK’s most prestigious architectural prizes. An old Victorian pump house has been converted in to a top restaurant and located further down is Lateral City’s Old Town Chambers – a selection of high-end serviced apartments sympathetically designed to include original brickwork and stone.

Old Town Chambers

The Soldier’s Dog Cemetery, Edinburgh Castle

A touching and often missed element of Edinburgh Castle, this small garden pays tribute to the pet dogs and regimental mascots of the castle’s soldiers. Located behind the parapets, near where the one o’clock gun is fired, The Soldier’s dog cemetery has been in use since Queen Victoria’s time in 1840 and offers a unique spot for quiet contemplation.

Pet Cemetery

The Scotsman Steps

The Scotsman Steps, built in 1899 as part of the historic Scotsman building, are an important part of the city linking Edinburgh’s old and new towns, from Market Street to North Bridge. In 2011 the steps were given a new lease of life by turner-prize winning artist Martin Creed, who resurfaced each of the 104 steps with different marbles from around the world.

Scotsman Steps

Tom Riddle’s Grave

Harry Potter fans visiting Edinburgh will no doubt head straight to the world famous cafe where JK Rowling is believed to have written most of the Potter books. Tucked away at the back of Greyfriars Kirkyard, however, is another Potter must – the grave of 19th Century gentleman Tom Riddle, who many believe was the inspiration for the novel’s villain, Lord Voldemort.

Greyfriars Kirkyard

Blackford Hill and The Hermitage Trail

Many who come to Edinburgh choose to hike Arthur’s Seat, the spectacular extinct volcano in the heart of the city – a fantastic walk with great views and LOTS of tourists. Few who visit are aware of Blackford Hill and the surrounding wooded nature reserve of the Hermitage of Braid. Located in the South West of the city, Blackford Hill offers similarly outstanding views of the city but in a more peaceful environment. As well as the castle, the Firth of Forth and city skyline, visitors can also enjoy excellent views of Arthur’s Seat and the Royal Observatory.

Sunset at Blackford Hill

Douglas Walker is Chair of Unique Venues of Edinburgh.

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Douglas Walker

Douglas Walker is Chair of Unique Venues of Edinburgh, which provides a ‘one stop shop’ for booking a unique event venue in Scotland’s beautiful capital.

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  1. I would love to visit Edinburgh especially to visit the castle. I didn’t know about the Soldier’s Dog Cemetery there. Would also go up to the top of Blackford Hill.

  2. I had visited Edinburgh for about a day and absolutely fell in love with the city. All touristy things done, these are great places to explore when I visit again. Thanks for sharing.

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