In the SE of the City is another little gem – Duddingston. Reachable on a number of buses (we took the 44) it houses a beautiful garden, a fascinating church, a very old pub as well as a number of other historic references – some of which you can see on the plaque above.
Our exploration began in the charming Dr Neil’s Garden set above the loch and below the crags of Arthur’s Seat. Dr Neil was actually a pair of Edinburgh doctors who transformed an old area grazed by cows into a beautiful hillside garden. Filled when we went with colourful shrubs, wildflowers and spring bulbs, there is also a charming physic garden set out reflecting their interest in healing people. Free to enter (donations welcome) there is a lovely café selling home made cakes and light lunches which is well worth a stop too.
Next stop is the 12th C Kirk alongside the gardens. Although much altered and modernised there are still lots of visible elements of its past both inside and out. The fine Norman arches are testament to the fine structure of the original building. Sir Walter Scott was at one time an elder of the kirk and another famous member of the congregation was Mr Pinkerton who emigrated to America and founded the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency. His family donated 3 stained glass windows to the Kirk which can be seen by going up onto the upstairs balcony.
Heading along a small side road near the Church, you reach the Sheep Heid Inn.
Said to be one of the oldest Inns in Scotland there is evidence that a drinking establishment has been on this site since the 16th Century when King James presented a rams head to the landlord. Today the interior dates from the 19th century but there are still wall mounted sheep’s heads on view.
Continuing a little further round the lane, you reach Prince Charlie’s cottage where Prince Charles Edward Stuart held his Council of War on the eve of the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745.
If time had permitted we would have headed out into the park to the nature reserve where there are bird hides set up overlooking the loch, but we’ll save that for another day.