The most attractive part of Leith is the cobbled waterfront street alongside the Water of Leith, lined with pubs and restaurants. Before the docks were built in the 19th century this was Leith’s original wharf.
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One of Edinburgh’s many atmospheric old cemeteries, Old Calton is dominated by the tall black obelisk of the Political Martyrs’ Monument, which commemorates those who suffered in the fight for electoral reform in the 1790s. In the southern corner is the massive cylindrical grey stone tomb of David Hume (1711–76), Scotland’s most famous philosopher.
This manufactured attraction combines gruesome tableaux of torture and degradation with live actors who perform scary little sketches along the way. There’s also a ‘horror labyrinth’, a creepy mirror maze inhabited by the ghost of a little drummer boy. Mildly amusing in a large group, mildly embarrassing in a small one and genuinely terrifying for small children.
Directly across Belford Rd from the NGMA's main building, another neoclassical mansion houses its annexe, the Dean Gallery. The Dean holds the NGMA's collection of Dada and surrealist art, including works by Dali, Giacometti and Picasso, and a large collection of sculpture and graphic art created by the Edinburgh- born sculptor Sir Eduardo Paolozzi.
Known as the 'Iona of the East', the island of Inchcolm (meaning 'St Columba's Island') lies east of the Forth bridges, less than a mile off the coast of Fife. Only 800m long, it is home to the ruins of Inchcolm Abbey , one of Scotland's best-preserved medieval abbeys, founded by Augustinian priors in 1123.
While ghost tours of Edinburgh's underground vaults and haunted graveyards have become a mainstream attraction, few tourists have yet explored Gilmerton Cove. Hidden in the southern suburbs, the mysterious cove is a series of manmade subterranean caverns hacked out of the rock, their origin and function unknown. Advance booking essential through Rosslyn Tours .
Church St leads from the eastern end of High St to St Mary’s Parish Church . Built in 1462, it’s the largest parish church in Scotland and one of the finest pre-Reformation churches in the country.
Rising on the southern edge of Edinburgh, the Pentland Hills stretch 16 miles southwest to near Carnwath in Lanarkshire. The hills rise to 579m at their highest point and offer excellent, not-too-strenuous walking with great views. There are several access points along the A702 road on the southern side of the hills.
Just 150m south of the town centre lies the Union Canal and the pretty canal centre, where a little museum records the history of the canal. The centre runs three-hour canal-boat trips (adult/child £8/5) west to the Avon Aqueduct, departing at 2pm Saturday and Sunday, Easter to September, and occasionally to the Falkirk Wheel .
Though Wallace's heroics were significant, it was Robert the Bruce's defeat of the English on 24 June 1314 at Bannockburn, just outside Stirling, that eventually established lasting Scottish nationhood.