Over the Border to Historic Edinburgh, Scotland


By Glynn Burrows


Last week I had the great good fortune of having a group of visitors who wanted to visit Edinburgh, so, as Norfolk Tours goes anywhere visitors want to go, that’s where I went.

ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Glynn Burrows talks about his experience touring prominent historic landmarks in Edinburgh. Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean.


We stayed in a lovely old stately home, which is now a health spa, golf club, and hotel, and, as it is about ten miles from the city, it is set in beautiful open countryside, so we had the best of both worlds.

There are so many things to see in Edinburgh, but I will concentrate on The Castle.

You cannot miss the Castle and you should not miss the chance to visit. It is perched on top of an extinct volcano, looking out over the city from that amazing vantage point.

The approach to the Castle is across a large open space where the Edinburgh Tattoo takes place and going through the first of several gates, we enter another world. The cobbles and uneven roadway, the stone walls, and the sheer rock face ahead and above really give a fantastic sense of history and strength.

The next gate we reach is the Portcullis Gate and that is a very heavily fortified entrance, with the building still showing where there were multiple gates and, as the name suggests, portcullis. A portcullis is a grid of iron that is lowered to form an impregnable barrier. Many castle gates have a pair of doors and a pair of portcullis, so, if attackers got through one part of the gate, they would need to do it all again!

Walking on from the Portcullis Gate, we get to the first Battery. This is a line of Cannons, all facing out over where the present “New City” is. In Medieval times, the city was beside and behind the castle, so the Cannon was looking out over the open country and the mouth of the river.

Going up to the top of the rock, we see the oldest building which is St Margaret’s Chapel. This tiny chapel was built around 1130 and has had several uses over the centuries and more cannons cover the approach to the Castle from the Old City.

Exploring a little further, we come to the Royal Palace and The Crown Jewels of Scotland. These are amazing to see and the Sceptre dates from 1494, the Sword from 1507, and the Crown itself, from 1540. Alongside the Royal Palace is The Great Hall, which was completed in 1512 and the Hammerbeam roof is one of the most important in Britain. Around the room is a collection of arms and armour that really sets the scene.

One of my favourite parts of The Castle is the Prison. It was used to house prisoners of war and those wars included the American War of Independence as well as the Napoleonic Wars and many others too. The displays give a really good idea of what conditions were like, but the one thing missing was the smell, which must have been pretty awful.

Another section within the Castle houses the Regimental Museum and another is the Scottish War Memorial, which remembers those who gave their lives in conflict.

All in all, Edinburgh Castle is a place not to be missed!

  • A Piper
    A Piper


Some other great attractions include: 

The Royal Yacht Britannia – This beautiful vessel was launched on 16 April 1953, and for over 44 years, The Royal Yacht served the Royal Family, travelling more than a million miles to become one of the most famous ships in the world.

Britannia was perfect for Her Majesty, as it was actually a floating royal residence and it was the ideal place, all over the globe, for official receptions, seclusion, honeymoons, and relaxing family holidays.

For Her Majesty’s Subjects, she was a fantastic advert for the Commonwealth and a first-class ambassador, generating billions of pounds in trade. For the 220 dedicated crew of Royal Yachtsmen, she was home.

Today, Britannia is a great visitor attraction and I thoroughly recommend it to you if you are in Edinburgh.

Mary King’s Close – This is a must if you like experiences. The sights, sounds, and musty smell of the underground remains of what were homes, are amazing. Sadly, as they are under Government buildings, there is no photography allowed, but a quick search will bring up the website all about this amazing area of the city.

It was formed during the 18th and 19th Centuries when the City wanted to construct an “Exchange” near to what was the marketplace and they decided that the best way to do that was to clear an area and build a large modern building. What they did ensured the preservation of the area we are now able to visit.

They basically demolished all parts of the buildings that were above street level and built on top of them. This means that everything below street level was left in place and just filled with rubble and rubbish.

A lot of these underground buildings were cleared out over the years, and some were used as air raid shelters during World War II, but it wasn’t until quite recently that the true value to historians was realised and the close was cleared of rubble and opened to the public.

Much research has been carried out and there is a large amount of information about the people who lived in that area in the past.

Glynn provides customized, private tours and helps his clients trace their English family history. Past guests have visited and experienced stately houses and gardens, castles and churches, ruins and villages, birding and wildlife, World War II airfields, and general area taster tours too. Accommodations can be in all types of establishments, from character buildings such as windmills, thatched cottages and castles, self-catering or five star luxury – just say what you want and it can be arranged. Nothing is too much trouble for Glynn! Visit www.Norfolk-Tours.co.uk

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Glynn provides customized, private tours and helps his clients trace their English family history.

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