Autumn in Edinburgh travel photography

Edinburgh is my home town – born there, spent most of my school years there, rarely have a chance to visit these days. I think that when you live somewhere, it’s hard to see past the daily life of getting things done, to be able to view it with artistic, creative eyes. I know for sure that I didn’t appreciate Edinburgh’s beauty and grit in the way that I do now. After much deliberation amongst my group of photographer friends, who opt for a different European city break each end-of-September, I was thrilled when they decided upon Edinburgh. We spent some time researching accommodation – which isn’t so easy when you’re looking for individual beds for 8 people! – but we struck gold with the artist-owned AirBnB in Leith. Tucked away upstairs down a side street, our huge flat was an inspiring place to stay; only minutes’ walk from the cafés and bars of The Shore, as well as having bus stops to take us right into the city centre. We didn’t know at the time but our flightpaths took us right over the flat where we’d spend the weekend, as we came in to land over the sunshine on Leith.

aerial view of leith edinburgh firth of forthairbnb accommodation leith edinburgh large flatstreet view leith edinburgh photography

These annual weekends away are as much about food, wine and good friends as they are about photography. We’d found The Roseleaf café-bar with excellent Trip Advisor reviews, and only a couple of minutes away, so headed there for our first evening meal. I can highly recommend its warm welcome and quirky Mad Hatter-style decor – cocktails in teapots and teacups; the menus hidden inside vintage copies of National Geographic!
the roseleaf leith edinburgh cafe bar national geographicthe roseleaf leith edinburgh cafe bar cocktails

Being right by The Shore meant breakfasts at Mimi’s Bakehouse – what a find. We loved it so much we went there every day! It has great windows for watching the local area spring to life in the morning.

leith resident with shopping trolley in street photography edinburghbernard street leith pubsbernard street the shore leith edinburgh architecturemimi's bakehouse the shore leith edinburgh full scottish breakfastedinburgh leith the shore street photography lothian busesmimi's bakehouse decor the shore leith edinburghreflections at the shore water of leith edinburgh water of leith at the shore edinburgh photography

Our first full day was an exploration of Edinburgh’s Old Town – so after a bus to the Mound, we walked up to the castle and spent a day of discovery all the way down the Royal Mile to Holyrood and the Scottish parliament. Below right you can see my old school – Heriots, now known to be JK Rowling‘s inspiration for Hogwarts (not too dissimilar a name, and as the teachers all waft around in their black gowns, and she wrote in cafés round the corner, and took character names from gravestones at the church next door, it doesn’t surprise me!). I’m happy to be a Muggle.

floral clock princes street gardens george heriots school edinburghsteps and shadows in princes street gardens edinburghshadow of piper bagpipes in the royal mile edinburgh scotlandramsay gardens royal mile edinburgh architectureransom gardens edinburgh royal mile front doorcamera obscura world of illusions edinburgh royal mile selfiethe writers museum edinburgh royal mile pavement quotesthe writers museum edinburgh silhouette shadows

There are so many closes and alleyways and courtyards along the length of the Royal Mile, that it was really worth having a full day to explore and photograph at leisure.

lady stairs close advocates close scott monument edinburghwriters museum edinburgh royal mile pavement quotes albaedinburgh old town architecture lady stairs close royal mileedinburgh fear the lord carved lintel royal mileedinburgh royal mile john knox house sunshine shadowsarhictectural detail gargoyle by john knox house royal mile edinburghcanongate garden with modern installation red glass gullans close

Below is Dunbar’s Close Garden, a little oasis of calm that hardly anyone knows is there.

dunbar's close garden canongate royal mile edinburgh

White Horse Close, tucked away off Canongate, was a run-down area until it was heavily restored in the 1960s.

white horse close canongate edinburgh royal milewhite horse close canongate edinburgh royal mile architecture white horse close royal mile edinburgh flower pot shoes on windowsillroyal mile edinburgh scottish parliament building archway movementview into white horse close royal mile edinburgh

It’s fair to say that we were really quite taken with the Scottish Parliament building. I wonder if the employees are as inspired by it as we were? The collections of poetry and quotes on its walls are worth spending some time looking through.

scottish parliament building holyrood arthurs seatscottish parliament building architecture carved inscriptions poetryscottish parliament holyrood royal miletourist reading inscriptions on scottish parliament building scottish parliament building detail edinburghGerard Manley Hopkins poetry inscription Scottish parliament Scottish parliament viewed from Royal Mile Edinburghinscriptions texts quotes poetry on scottish parliament building canongate rooftops royal mile edinburgh

I remember as a child doing a quiz that asked you to find certain things along the Royal Mile. The sculpted lintel at Heave Awa Hoose was something that I recall made an impression on me. It reads ‘Heave awa’ chaps, I’m no dead yet’. In November 1861, two crumbling 250-year old houses collapsed leaving 35 residents dead. As work began to clear the debris, this boy was heard calling. He actually shouted ‘lads’ but it was changed to ‘chaps’ so that Victorian tourists from England would understand it. Joseph McIvor was the only survivor of this tragedy of overcrowding and inadequate living conditions, which prompted a public outcry. The rich had long left these rundown areas for the open spaces and wide streets of Edinburgh’s New Town, with no investments being made to maintain the old tenements.

paisley close royal mile edinburgh heave awa chaps

Poor wee Greyfriars Bobby – I had to put this picture into black & white because his rubbed-off golden nose upsets me! This has only happened in the last few years, while the drinking fountain statue has stood since 1873. Don’t rub Bobby’s nose! On this evening we’d just had a very fine meal at The Wee Restaurant, Frederick Street – highly recommended for authentic, non-fussy and tasty British food – then made our way up to Sandy Bell’s bar for some lively trad music (it was heaving in there!).

greyfriars bobby and pub at night black and whitewater of leith morning the shore edinburghmimi's bakehouse the shore leith architectureburns statue bernard street leith edinburgh

Our flat had fabulous window light and an unplastered, textured wall that we all loved. Perfect for some headshots.

female headshots photographer surrey commercial portrait photographyguildford photographer female headshots of women in businessblack and white headshots portraits of businesswomenthe vennel edinburgh architecture heriot place nelson mandela quote graffiti in chalkview of edinburgh castle from the flodden wall top of the vennel

Our second full day began with a walk down The Vennel to the Grassmarket (hello, Mary’s Milk Bar, best ice cream ever anywhere) and then heading up to the New Town for some different streets and architecture.

moody monochrome view of edinburgh castle from the grassmarketmarys milk bar the grassmarket best ice cream in edinburgh scotlandmarys milk bar grassmarket edinburgh ice cream unusual flavoursstreet photography edinburgh marys milk bar ice creamrose street new town edinburgh mosaic detailrose street art edinburgh george mackay brown beachcomber poetry poemautumn at edinburgh castle viewed from princes street gardenscircus lane edinburgh st stephen's church stockbridge window box detail circus lane edinburgh

We were caught in some rain showers but it gave us some very pretty light by the time we got to Circus Lane. Here is Julia in the frame.

circus lane photography portrait photographer edinburgh

It was worth bringing a travel tripod for this picture!

circus lane edinburgh group portrait colourfulroyal circus new town edinburgh georgian architecture rain raindrop bokeh sparkles rainbows at royal circus edinburghautumn leaves wet day rain sparkles rainy fall edinburghroyal circus edinburgh autumn light after rainroyal circus edinburgh georgian architecture reflection rainy day puddle

The Georgian Royal Circus is breathtaking – what a beautiful place to live.

royal circus georgian architecture new town edinburgh reflection rainy day sunlight after rain edinburgh new town georgianautumn light edinburgh new town howe street india placesilhouettes and long shadows sunshine after rain royal circus

We finished our day’s trekking by heading up Calton Hill with the rest of the tourists, to watch the sun set over the city.

firth of forth leith edinburgh viewed from calton hill at sunsetpalace of holyroodhouse holyrood scottish parliament arthurs seat from calton hillcalton hill national monument at sunset and bench memorial leithquirky airbnb flat leith edinburgh

Leith has changed so much in recent years and was a perfect venue for our weekend away. I hope I’ll be back in Edinburgh before too long. To my friends – thanks for being such wonderful company!

the shore leith edinburgh travel photographyrusty mooring detail at leith docks industrial past edinburghedinburgh princes street and castle viewed from calton hill at sunset

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  • Vince Docherty - You have really caught Edinburgh and the quality of photography is superb. I moved to the area early this year but have had very little time to explore, and I will definitely use this as a guide book. We HAVE discovered Mimi’s, and made it too much of a haunt. Too tempting. Check “thisisedinburgh” on Instagram, and they will almost certainly use some of these images. 
    Vince Docherty, Haddington.ReplyCancel

    • JulieAnne - Thanks so much for looking through and for your kind words! I know you will discover many, many hidden gems as you begin to look around. A bit jealous of your move! Enjoy it.ReplyCancel

  • Julia Forsman - I cannot stop looking at these Julie. You are a wonderful photographer. Great memories and I love that I am in the pictures too. Looking forward to next year already!ReplyCancel

    • JulieAnne - That means a great deal coming from you – thank you! Really enjoyed your company and I’m now wondering where we might end up next year? Exciting! ReplyCancel

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