Having completed our visit to the list of attractions in Skye, we return to Edinburgh. Although we’ve arrived into Scotland via Edinburgh, we’ve only seen the airport.
We left Skye early at 8 a.m. during a light drizzle. Our return route to Edinburgh isn’t the same as the one we came. We will be returning via the east coast with a stop at Pitlochry. The whole journey is close to 240 miles with a driving time in excess of 5½ hours. As we progressed further, the rain got heavier only to clear before reaching the Skye bridge. Well that’s OK as we’ve no plans to stop at any other attractions in Skye.
The drive to Pitlochry from Portree is 165 miles taking 4 hours. A change of route from A82 to A86 few miles after the site of Commando Memorial will take you into the town of Spean Bridge. Previously we’ve by-passed this town to get to the Isle of Skye. From the junction of A82/A86 it’s 1½ hours drive to Pitlochry covering 66 miles. They’ll be few more road changes along the distance namely, from A86 to A889 and into highway A9 and finally the A924 for Pitlochry. Along the way, the scenery are mostly country side, nothing compared like driving through the Highlands, although a couple of spots were picturesque.
Pitlochry is the largest town in Highland Perthshire and is a tourist hub. It has been established as a tourist destination from the time the railway was built 150 years ago. The buildings in Pitlochry was built in Victorian architecture style which gives the town a special character much to the liking of photographers and visitors alike.
We arrived Pitlochry around lunch time and the main street, Atholl Road (A924) is in a hive of activities. Most shops along the main street are souvenir shops and restaurants. Pitlochry is a tourist destination in itself but the crowds in the streets are mainly tourist passing through. This could be due to Pitlochry’s location being a 2 hours drive to Edinburgh, is a convenient stop to have lunch for the returning tourist from the highlands, or from the North.
Continuing our drive from Pitlochry to Edinburgh, we will be back onto the A9 and later M90. Nearing Edinburgh, we will be crossing the new Queensferry Crossing Bridge which carries the M90. This bridge was officially open on 4th September 2017 about 2 weeks before our arrival. It was built parallel to the ‘old’ Forth Road Bridge now open only to buses, taxis, cyclists & pedestrians. There is no toll for the use of this new bridge. To the other side of these two bridges, the red coloured Forth Rail bridge is still in operation. We took a short detour to Newhalls Road for pictures of the bridge.
We than headed to Dean Village close-by to Edinburgh city. The village is a tranquil green oasis on the ‘Water of Leith’. The quaint area of Dean Village is far removed from the normal bustle of busy Edinburgh city life. There used to be eleven mills along the river, driven by the river’s strong current. Housing for the mill workers sprung up around the mills and river, and the remnants of the industry can still be seen today.
From Dean Village we drove to Circus Lane about a mile away. It has no historical significant but just a spot we found picturesque to photograph. It’s a narrow lane with private dwellings and has absolutely no parking spot. We just got out of our car for a few quick photos and drove on, hardly 5 minutes.
Next on our attraction list is Ashley Boathouse on Union Canal. It’s a little bit at the edge of town and less than 3 miles from Circus Lane. Again, it is on our visit list for it’s picturesque environment. This spot is not specifically marked on Google map but search for ‘Ogilvie Terrace’ that runs alongside the canal. That boathouse is nice to photograph.
We ended our day by driving to ‘My Edinburgh Life’ Hotel, Edinburgh. It’s located at Rosebery Cres and very close to Haymarket train station and Haymarket tram stop and has good bus and tram connections into the city centre .
The operations of this hotel is rather peculiar as it’s unmanned. You’ll get an e-mail instruction one or two days prior to your arrival on how to let yourself in. You’ll be given a 4 digit code to access our room key from one of the small security boxes outside the front door. Thereon, it’s all self service. The wi-fi code is prominently displayed on the side table as you enter the main door.
The room was clean and decent size. The en-suite bathroom is a little small, comes with a mini basin. The beds were comfortable and there is a small pantry with mini fridge, microwave oven and water kettle. The flat CTV was large and the heater kept us warm. The free wi-fi was weak and keeps disconnecting most of the time and is as good as useless. I’ve literally have to sit at the stairs to get a decent reception.
One very important fact not mentioned on the booking site is the hotel does NOT have lift. We got room No:10 which is on the 3rd floor, the top most floor. We’ve got two, 25kgs traveling begs, two backpacks that we’ve to haul up ourselves as the hotel is unmanned! Imagine us, not young at age, hauling these begs up the flight of stairs. I literally rested for ½ hour before hauling the 2nd beg. The ordeal doesn’t stop. We’ll need to bring the begs down upon check-out. Such an IDIOTIC concept. The check-out process is by placing your room key back into the security box and locking it.
On the next morning, we visited a few attractions in Edinburgh namely, Hard Rock Cafe, Victoria Street for it’s colorful buildings and views of Edinburgh Castle from various locations. We did this by driving our car on a Sunday morning when traffic is scares.
We returned our rented car back to Edinburgh airport and then took the tram back to town. The tram ride was about ½ hr and cost £5.50. Along the way, we passed Murrayfield stadium which is the largest stadium in Scotland and the 5th in UK. However, it’s a rugby rather than football stadium. We got off the tram at Princess Street we took a bus to the Royal Mile to explore the area and surroundings.
From the Royal Mile, we again took the bus back to Princess Street and dropped-off nearby the Scottish Royal Academy. Princess Street is a shopping street and all along the street are branded stores. Adjacent to Princess Street is the Princess Street Garden. Unfortunately during autumn, only a few patches of flowers remains blooming. Having rested at the garden, we took another bus back to Haymarket for our hotel.
Early on Monday morning, we are set to leave Edinburgh for London King’s Cross. Haymarket Train station is a short walking distance from our hotel. We took a train here to Edinburgh Waverley station for connection to our Virgin train. If you’ve purchased advanced ticket to London or elsewhere, just show that ticket at Haymarket Train station and you can ride the train to Waverley at no charge.