I’m always on the lookout for new guidebooks for the Scottish Borders and Edinburgh. Books that offer something more than the usual visitor attractions. I found this book in Bank House Living, Melrose a few weeks ago and knew I had to have it. Based on personal experience walking through Edinburgh, “Urban Explorer” Duncan J D Smith, gives a new and unusual perspective. He reveals the Edinburgh of secret gardens and haunted theatres, mysterious monuments and unexpected underworlds, industrial relics and unusual places of worship.
Only in Edinburgh
Only in Edinburgh is a comprehensive illustrated guide to more than 100 fascinating, unique locations, hidden corners and unusual objects. His clever use of chapter titles captures your interest straight away. On the way you find yourself captured by his stunning photography of yet another little-known attraction. From historic homes and ruined churches to an Art Deco petrol station (#92) and a library for poets (#28). Attractions include the ‘Innocent Railway Tunnel’ (#46), Arthur’s Seat Coffins (#35), Trainspotting in Leith (#73), and the Skating Minister (#57). But even for fairly mainstream attractions, the book is filled with all sorts of easy to miss details. For example Edinburgh Castle Gatehouse, while looking old, is a combination of 1888 construction and a 1970s tunnel to allow military lorries to enter. Or discover the cemetery for Soldiers’ Dogs or the “Laird’s Lug”, a window for eavesdropping conversations in the Great Hall.
This level of detail continues for some of the other attractions, such as the Museum of the Mound’s display of a million Scottish Banknotes (#8). Or the easy-to-miss marker in the pavement noting the location of Scotland’s last public execution (#10). Or even explorations of the various nooks and crannies of the Old City itself, such as the remnants of the old town wall (#39) Having lived in Edinburgh as a student and as a frequent visitor I thought I had discovered most of Edinburgh’s hidden treasures – but it appears not. I still have much to discover.
Gin & Coffee
And when your ready to sit down, lookout for the Gin (#47) and coffee from a Police Book (#91). Or maybe follow in JK Rowling’s footsteps and have coffee with Harry Potter (#37).
So if you only buy one book for your visit to Edinburgh, this should be the one. And who knows we may meet as we discover the lesser known joys of Scotland’s Capital City.
Here’s a link to a previous post on more books on Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders to help you plan your visit.
A bit more about The Urban Explorer
Duncan decided in 2003 to write and illustrate his own travel books after a career selling other travel writers’ books. As a self-styled ‘Urban Explorer’, he has embarked on a lifetime’s adventure, travelling off the beaten track in search of the world’s hidden corners and curious locations. Duncan has so far traversed three continents in search of unusual places and people. From the wartime bunkers of Berlin, the Baroque gardens of Prague to the souks of Damascus and the rock-cut churches of Ethiopia. His ground breaking series of ‘Only In’ Guides, cover 11 European Cities. Berlin, Budapest, Cologne, Edinburgh, Hamburg, London, Munich, Paris, Prague, Vienna, and Zurich.