For anyone that doesn’t know my name is Annabel and I’m a first year vet student here in Edinburgh. I’m originally from the south of England and so Edinburgh is quite a distance from home for me. Since this is my first time here, my flatmates and I spent a lot of time exploring Edinburgh during the first weeks. Back home, I live in a fairly rural village and grew up spending a lot of time outside. Especially with the current situation, getting outside is one of the biggest reliefs for me personally; so now with winter coming round the corner and the light going so much earlier, I thought I’d share some of my favourite outdoor spots in Edinburgh that I’ve found.
Thinking back to very early on in Semester 1, the Meadows was one of my favourite places to chill. Back when we were blessed with that rare Scottish sun each day, my flatmates and I made the most of each drop of sunlight and would hang out with friends in the meadows, which is very luckily a stone’s throw away from me. In the sun we’d often sit, bag of crisps and drinks in hand. It formed a very central location which was perfect for meeting people from all round the Uni while socially distancing. Now with the sun not quite so present, the meadows still forms a nice walk for us. Long enough for a good walk and to appreciate the beautiful colours that are settling into the trees at the moment.
One of the favourite memories from the first few weeks was when myself and some other vet students impulsively decided to climb Arthur’s Seat to enjoy the sunset over Edinburgh. Arthur’s Seat provides one of the easiest ways to “get out” of the city with minimal effort. More recently, my friends and I often walk to the lakes at the bottom or follow Queen’s Drive all the way round. Again, another short walk from my accommodation and some of the most beautiful views of the whole of Edinburgh. Having previously lived in one of the most land-locked areas of England, it still surprises me every time I see the sea, much to the humour of my friends.
Another fond memory of mine from the beginning of the Semester, was another impromptu exploration of the city. The end of summer always has the most beautiful sunsets and one evening, whilst chilling in the kitchen, my flatmates and I noticed that the sun was setting beautifully and decided to leg it up to the castle to appreciate the views. The whole of the Grass Market was lit up and looked like something out of a movie. Grass Market (especially when the market is there) is one of the little hidden gems of Edinburgh with the scenes of the castle looming above. The Harry Potter loving child within me probably loves this part of Edinburgh the most. Grass Market also stands home to one of the Armstrong & Sons shops – a second-hand shop that sells everything under the sun and is an assault to the senses. Filled with the most chaotic colours, textures and just about everything, this shop is a must but will require more than one visit to fully appreciate.
The next spot I love is a shameless plug for the Exmoor Pony Trekking Society- The Pentlands. A lot of my holidays growing up involved going to national parks all around the UK and climbing mountains. As a result, I’ve come to develop a massive sense of comfort in those environments. When I started here at Uni, I joined the Exmoor Pony Trekking Society and am now undergoing a course to become a Trek Leader. As a result, I frequently get to go up to the Pentlands to ride. About a forty minute journey outside of the centre of Edinburgh, the Pentlands provide what I consider to be the best views I have experienced. Whilst obviously bias due to my childhood, I would say it is a must for anyone in Edinburgh to visit – even if just to escape the city and breathe in that fresh mountainous air.
Now for one of my favourite places in the city of Edinburgh – Calton Hill. Calton Hill is about a fifteen-minute walk from my accommodation and was actually one of the places I visited with my dad when I was here for the Open Day. On one of my frequent “let’s just walk in any direction and if we get lost use google maps” walk with my friend Maya, I rediscovered Calton Hill. Tucked away in the centre, it provides me with probably the easiest ways to ‘get out’ of the city. I always felt like it was a lot quieter than the regular tourist spots and you could get a full 360′ view of Edinburgh, experiencing all the different aspects the city has to offer. By looking in different directions you can appreciate the city part, coastal part and more rural parts of the city.
Edinburgh as a city was one of the biggest influences over my university choice, besides the Uni itself. Having the ability to ‘get out’ of the city helps me feel less overwhelmed. Obviously, this is only my first year here and there are a lot of the typical scenic places I have yet to visit, but I hope to add to this list as time goes on. Feel free to send me any suggestions for places to visit 🙂