We rushed off from Isla’s birthday party to head straight for The Devonshire Arms in Pilsey for a quick stop, a lovely dinner and lots of shouting ‘Baaa baaa’ at hundreds of sheep (Isla mostly but not exclusively!). Before we continued on our journey we stopped off in Bakewell – yes, of THE bakewell tarts! Tried a tart – decided Mr. Kipling has been ripping us off for years and continued on to the next stop on our way up to Edinburgh…!
Another few hours driving while Isla took her nap and we made it to Durham to go on the hunt for lunch! Our plans didn’t really work out as our recommendation for lunch wasn’t open on Monday’s and we didn’t realise you have to arrange a tour and book in advance to go and look at the castle! We went around the beautiful Cathedral instead and had a nice lunch at the cafe on the green – Isla was pleased to wave at everyone and run around for a bit before we headed off again for our final destination…
We made it!!! All in one piece and we timed it perfectly so Isla slept basically the whole way! Time to be the ultimate tourists – first a little tour of The Royal Mile before we headed back to check into our flat which had an amazing view of Arthur’s Seat! That’s about as close as we were going to get to that – I’m all for baby wearing but not baby hiking!
If you watch our Instagram stories you will have seen the weather was not on our side – there was zero visibility and the rain was constant. We took shelter in the Scottish National Gallery which was Isla’s dream come true – open floor space and so many people willing to wave back and say hello! She was very popular and one of the ‘guards’ (is that the right term?) even drew her a beautiful picture of a Teddy bear to keep! The picture on the right is from the Inspiring Impressionism Exhibition that was truly beautiful to see the work of Daubigny, Monet and Van Gogh up close. Isla was fascinated and while she was occasionally too loud I didn’t regret for a second taking her there – maybe a few people were disturbed by us but 99% of people in the gallery thought it was adorable to see her enjoying the art.
The next morning we made a speedy trip around the castle before Barney’s rehearsal and managed to skip the huge queues by getting the tickets on my phone and going straight for the ‘pre-booked’ ticket machine. I’d highly recommend sorting your tickets before as the queue was at least an hour long and that was at 10am!
It is mostly pram/wheelchair accessible with just a few bits that we had to wait to go in one at a time but nothing too problematic. The view is worth it and you get a full 360 all the way around Edinburgh so definitely make sure you check out all the different sides of the castle!
Later on I’d planned to take Isla to Calton Hill to have an explore and look at more beautiful views but I soon realised that there is absolutely no step-free access! So we quickly jumped in a taxi over to the Royal Botanical Gardens – it’s only a 30 minute walk from the centre of Edinburgh but it was Isla’s lunch time so we wanted to get over there quickly.
There are so many beautiful parts of the garden to explore and everywhere has wide, easy to navigate paths! It’s free entry and £5.50 if you want to go inside the Glasshouse. Isla wasn’t as pleased with this trip as there were less people to wave at – but I enjoyed the peace and quiet for just a moment. The weather turned on us again and was ridiculously hot – poor Isla was stuck in her Uggs and woolen shorts! I’m going to start bringing an outfit for every season in the bag with us if this continues!! The cafe had a brilliant selection of healthy options for Isla’s lunch and even had a small soft play area inside and a Wendy house outside!
Another day in city navigating the cobbled streets! If you can baby wear, just do it! Having a pram was a bit of a nightmare as almost all of the streets are ancient or just broken. I left the pram in the flat to make the trip up the Calton Hill and although baby wearing a 1 year old up and down hills wasn’t ideal it was worth it!
The trek up the hill wearing a 1 year old was quite something but once we made it up I collapsed on the grass for a bit while Isla made her introductions to all the other families around us. The hill has several iconic monuments and buildings: the National Monument, the Nelson Monument, the Dugald Stewart Monument, the old Royal High School, theRobert Burns Monument, the Political Martyrs’ Monument and the City Observatory. We didn’t make it into the Observatory unfortunately but enjoyed the views!
The view on every side really is breathtaking and there is a large flat area if you wanted to have a picnic!
I didn’t realise that the reason I felt like I was nearly dieing walking up the hill was because I was actually incredibly ill – the next day I had a temperature of 105 & slept the whole way home in the car! Luckily Isla didn’t catch it but poor Barney had to drive for 6 hours and look after both of us! At least we were headed home for a whole week to catch up and feel better!
Edinburgh is up there as one of my favourite tour venues so far, even with the hills, it has so much on offer! I’d love to come back and explore their bars & restaurants properly – maybe once Isla turns 18! 😉
Next stop… Southend-on-Sea!