Massively pushing my decision to visit Edinburgh was to meet up with my friend Ian, whom I met at a surf trip in France earlier in 2016. His grandmother lives in Buckstone, just outside of the city proper and the two of them graciously hosted me for the weekend. Her home is filled with family photos of generations of children and grandchildren, their accomplishments and memories; it was warm, inviting and their extended family and neighbors truly made me feel welcomed. Over the course of the weekend we spent hours at the dining room table over breakfasts and dinners, catching up and getting to know his family better. Although this was my personal highlight, we did head out for a few adventures; I’m beyond thankful for this weekend in Scotland.
In France, Ian entertained me by playing hours and hours of competitive table tennis. Therefore, it was no surprise we found ourselves on a drizzly Saturday morning at Sygn, a hip sort of retro bar that turned one of their beer pong tables into a ping pong table for us. As I learned earlier in the week, Saturday, May 20th, was World Whisky Day; Ian was well aware of my bond with whisky and was up for an adventure to The Pitt, the official venue of the day’s celebration. We left Sygn for a 45 minute walk but the rain started to come down hard so we ducked into The Conan Doyle for their Whisky of the Day, which was a Talisker Skye. I knew at this point, sitting near a Sherlock Holmes statue, that the day was headed in the right direction.
We left soon after and after walking for another 30 minutes in the pouring rain, the sun started to come out as we arrived at The Pitt – we were welcomed with live music by The Coaltown Daisies, multiple tents of beer, whisky and scotch eggs. My soaked shoes did not stop the excitement of meeting Blair Bowman, the founder of World Whiskey Day, (who just so happened to hit a record of 60 distilleries in a day and co-authored The Pocket Guide to Whisky) a stuffed chicken, and new friend (see ‘Slash’ below). It was an incredible event that I felt lucky to have found off a tip the day before. Everyone was knowledgable and passionate about whisky and the indecisive weather had zero effect on the days’ activities. Naturally, I’ve marked my calendar to celebrate this day annually. You should too!
After burning tattie scones at breakfast, Ian took me for a quick hike up to The Braids with an incredible views of the city; I constantly asked questions about particular buildings on the horizon but his tour guide abilities were lacking from drinks the night before (sorry Ian, its true). Not hard to get here at all, just direct yourself to the Braids Hill Golf Course and stay just north of it; the view and trails were perfect for a long walk or run.
Luckily, his aunt took the reigns and brought us all over to Queensferry for a view of the Forth Road Bridge. There happened to be a Abseil contest on this 50+ yr old bridge that morning and we caught a rare glimpse before stopping for picturesque views and pint. Never would I have ventured out this way on my own as it was 40 minutes from the train station, but I highly recommend the trip! It got us out of the city to the quaintest coastal town I had seen yet. We drove that Sunday, but you could easily take the 40A from the city out this way. My gratitude for the weekend, the people and the adventures are unparalleled.
Cheers! – Ciara