Stockbridge, Edinburgh – A historical and serene oasis in the city

(Cover image Susanna Green) Nestled between Edinburgh’s somewhat ironically titled New Town (given its two-hundred year age) and Comely Bank lies Stockbridge; sitting a short distance north of the City Centre, though still very much central in Scotland’s small, but dramatic capital.

Green Spaces

Stockbridge benefits from an abundance of open and green spaces. The Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh is housed here, and sits opposite Inverleith Park, a major public park hosting numerous events every year including the popular ‘Foodies Festival’ a culinary celebration forming part of the overarching Edinburgh Festival.

Stockbridge Market

Image Stockbridge Market, designed in 1824 by Archibald Scott.  gnomonic via Flickr

However in addition to these instantly accessible and well know retreats Stockbridge is home to more deliciously clandestine hideaways. Away from picturesque, but raucous cobbled streets and busy thoroughfare roads The Water of Leith, Edinburgh’s main river, cuts through Stockbridge almost imperceptibly. Along the length of the river lies a scenic walkway which cuts surreptitiously through the entire city, hidden in plain sight and enjoyed by those privy to its secret existence.

Water of Leith by Stockbridge Colonies

 Image Water of Leith by Stockbridge Colonies. Scott Denham via Flickr

Along the walkway from Stockbridge is the Dean Village, dramatically sitting above the river framed in nature.  Once a village in its own right, it houses mill buildings, historically producing bread and other products for all of Edinburgh, and worker’s cottages once housing the mill’s employees, now desirable city homes. Continuing on from the Dean Village along the water’s walkway the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art can be accessed.

Charles Jencks' Landform at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Image Charles Jencks’ Landform at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. John Lord via Flickr

The Gallery is shared between two buildings: Gallery of Modern Art One, which is housed in an imposing neo-classical building, and was designed by William Burn in 1825, while Gallery of Modern Art Two was originally built as the Dean Orphan Hospital in 1833 by Thomas Hamilton. In addition to the Gallery’s exhibitions and collections the grounds themselves serve as a celebration of modern art displaying award winning sculpture and landscaping.

St Bernard’s well,

Image St Bernard’s well. Stuart Johnstone

St Bernard’s well, a natural mineral water well sits between the Dean Village and Stockbridge. Its waters were once coveted by gentry for its medicinal benefits, and can still be tasted when the circular Greek temple styled monument, complete with a statue of the Greek goddess of health Hygieia, is opened to the public on occasion.

A perfect respite from the beating pulse of the carnival

Typically Edinburgh’s City Centre will erupt into delightful Edinburgh Festival bedlam this August as it does every year with the population of Edinburgh swelling by more than one million, making it, temporarily, the UK’s second largest city. Visiting the city at this time is a wonderfully chaotic experience and the energy of the Edinburgh Festival is a unique attraction with an unrivalled variety of theatre, comedy, dance, music, musicals and literature for over three weeks of the summer.

Edinburgh Festival

Image Edinburgh Festival. Strevo via Flickr

Stockbridge will see little change during this time, if trends set in previous years stay true, however perhaps Stockbridge could offer exactly the kind of respite a frazzled culture enthusiast needs before venturing back into the throng of the Festival, well worth the ten minute walk.

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