During our latest trip to Edinburgh, we had a day exploring the Dean Village and Stockbridge area. Something I love about Edinburgh is that no matter how many times you’ve been, there’s always something or somewhere fresh to discover. This part of town isn’t exactly new to us, but we managed to uncover things we’ve not seen before.
Here’s some things to do in Stockbridge and Dean Village – and how you could spend a day there…
Arriving in Edinburgh – and lunch at Milk near Haymarket Station
On this particular trip, we weren’t actually staying in Edinburgh. We were doing three days in North Berwick (highly recommended!), so we got the train into Edinburgh’s Haymarket Station.
Regular readers will know that mornings are not for us, so naturally it was about 12.30 by the time we actually got there and we decided to have a bit of lunch straight away because it was pouring down and we had vague hopes of it stopping before we ventured on our explorations.
After a bit of TripAdvisor research on the train in, I found Milk just by Haymarket Station – very cute and lots of vegan options. Perfect.
It did not stop raining.
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
After lunch, we’d planned to do the Stockbridge to Dean Village walk as recommended by lovely fellow travel blogger Laretour, but it was chucking it down and windy, so we headed straight for a perfect indoor activity: an art gallery.
It’s safe to say that we’ve seen our fair share of art galleries around Europe. We do one in pretty much every city we go to, which makes it about four per year. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is an exceptionally good one, with a really interesting selection of modern and contemporary stuff.
We’d seen another Duane Hanson piece in Berlin – a life-size lady carrying her shopping. We instantly recognised his work again in these models, called Tourists – or rather, I did. Chris initially thought they were actual people…
We also really liked this (see second pic below) entire room of cardboard models of Edinburgh’s many (286) places of worship by Nathan Coley.
The gallery itself is set across two old buildings, Modern One and Modern Two, in a sculpture park. I’d love to include photos that I took of the park, but they came out looking like the apocalypse because of the rain. That’s probably not the vibe you want to relax and take in the art.
Walking through Dean Village and Stockbridge: stepping back in time
As we emerged from the gallery, the rain finally went off so we walked to find the much-Instagrammed Dean Village.
Dean Village is a little green oasis in the city. It is SO gorgeous. And as you can see in the photos, it’s absolutely bafflingly different to the rest of the city.
It sort of creeps up on you. You turn a corner, flanked by blocks of flats, and bang! There it is. You’re transported back in time. The old mill buildings, the Water of Leith and loads of greenery mean you wouldn’t think you were in a big city. It’s very odd to think that this little paradise is only moments from the hustle and bustle of Princes Street. We even had it to ourselves on our walk. Didn’t see another soul. So that was rather good for photo opportunities.
Circus Lane: the best photography spot in Edinburgh
So if you thought Dean Village was charming, Circus Lane is going to knock your socks off.
I’d seen Circus Lane SO many times on Instagram because it’s hugely popular with bloggers – even more so than Dean Village – and I was kind of expecting it to not be that good in real life. But it was. Believe the hype. It is deffo one of the cutest lanes I’ve ever seen. All the terraced mews houses have pots and hanging baskets outside so it’s all colourful and floral. So, so, so pretty. It was a level of quaint only rivalled by cottages in Kirkby Lonsdale.
There’s not much else to say really – is is just a lane. But a very cute one.
Exploring and drinking in Stockbridge
We emerged from Circus Lane right into the beautiful streets of Stockbridge, a boho area north of the city centre. We’ve explored Stockbridge on previous trips and there are loads of gorgeous shops there. You know you’re in an upmarket part of the city when you spot a Farrow & Ball shop… luckily for our bank balances, we couldn’t fit tins of paint into the suitcases.
Stockbridge has quite a vilage-y vibe with plenty of cosy cafés and pubs. Very hygge on a wet day. Speaking of Scandi things, we found a branch of the little Swedish chain Söderberg. How unlike us to stumble into a Scandi artisan bakery. Ahem. Naturally, Chris had a kanelbullar (cinnamon bun) and I didn’t because cinnamon is the work of the devil. I did have a rather nice fruit bun though and a gigantic green tea.
We then had a good mooch round the shops of Stockbridge and scouted out somewhere to eat later on. Then it started raining again and the shops were all shutting and we entered the Difficult Hours. Does anyone else find that on holiday, you can get stuck between 5 and 7 when shops close but you’re not hungry yet? We’ve found that the Difficult Hours can only be filled by a) museums/galleries that are open late or b) alcohol. As we’d already done the art gallery, we opted for the latter.
The Stockbridge Tap had a decent array of both hanging baskets and local beers. The beers were a bit more craft-cask style than our tastes but it was cosy and had a nice vibe – so much so that we ended up staying in there for hours.
Drinks and meal at the Scran and Scallie, Stockbridge
After our drinks, we headed to the Scran and Scallie, Tom Kitchin’s gastro pub.
We’re not normally drawn to celebrity chef places at all, but there was something very appealing about this place and once we’d checked that the prices weren’t going to kill us, we booked a table.
We had a ‘float’ of beers to sample with our meals. In a most unlike-us move, one of the mains we shared was a meat pie – having read that the meat was locally sourced and free range. It was one of the nicest pies I’ve ever had, which for someone who can’t remember the last time they ate meat, is saying something.
We also shared a kedgeree dish, which was delicious.
Side note: to the tune of ‘Tragedy’: Kedgeree / It’s a rice-based dish / and it’s made with fish / Kedgeree!
Never fails to crack me up, that.
We then shared a chocolate/coffee mousse/ice cream thingy. Amazing stuff.
To round off the day in Stockbridge and Dean Village…
After food, there was time for a very brief stop off at Six Degrees North on Howe Street. This was an Edinburgh branch of an Aberdeen craft brewery. The beers were right up our street, although it was pitch black in there so I couldn’t get any photos. Chris had their own kölsch and I had a sour (standard behaviour). They had board games and really nice decor inside, but annoyingly we had to rush because of the last train ‘home’ to North Berwick looming over us. Definitely somewhere we’ll head back to on our inevitable return to Edinburgh.
Slightly hammered, we made it to said train via an obligatory photo of the Waverley Steps sign. In case you were wondering (you deffo weren’t), we had Waverley Steps as our main wedding song so we always have to have a photo with the sign. In other news you’re not even remotely interested in, when we got back to North Berwick, I had the best cocktail of my life, which you can read about in our North Berwick blog post.
So that was the end of our lovely, albeit wet, day in and around Stockbridge. Definitely an area of Edinburgh that needs more than a day to fully get to know though. I wish we’d had a bit more time to walk up further to visit the Botanic Gardens again – we’ve been a few times but not for a few years. I also wish we’d had more room in our luggage to do a bit of shopping round Stockbridge’s cute little independents. Next time…
A day in Dean Village and Stockbridge, Edinburgh: useful information
How to get there (and away)
Get the train to Edinburgh’s Haymarket or Waverley stations, depending on where you want to start. Stockbridge is to the north west of the city centre.
Where to stay
We stayed out in North Berwick this time – although, we have stayed in Edinburgh many times. There are lots of hotels, B&Bs, apartments and the like. I did a bit of research and you can actually stay in Circus Lane itself if you’re willing to splash out. Honestly though, I don’t think it matters which area of Edinburgh you stay in – everywhere is well connected and most is easily walkable so you can get to Stockbridge to explore from anywhere.
When to go
This particular trip was in September and the weather was mild but cloudy throughout our stay. This day was the only one it really rained on, which was a shame, but as some of what we did (the gallery and eating) was indoors, we were able to escape. Edinburgh is quite busy all year round with tourists, but unlike a lot of big cities, you can usually escape them. We were the only people about in Dean Village, and we even had Circus Lane to ourselves, despite its Instagram fame.
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