Friday, 7 February 2014

Edinburgh's new town Tour

"You can now book the Saints & Sinners New town tour" don't delay get in touch today !!

This tour explores the streets and buildings that put Edinburgh on the map and to discover some of the people whose ideas and ambitions created 'the Athens of the North’. 
Conceived during the 18th Century determined that Edinburgh should be a credit to the Hanoverian –ruled UK and rid itself of its reputation for overcrowding and squalor The great and the good left the old town for this new style of living, in what was and still is neo classical Georgian splendor.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Mary Queen of Scots - The Edinburgh Story

Our new Tour that is premièring at the Edinburgh Fringe 1 - 31, Aug 2014, starting point outside MacDonald Holyrood Hotel, 81 Holyrood Road,EH8 8AU@ 1400.

Mary is one of the most romantic and tragic figures in history.  We journey through the old town to get a feel for the life and times of Mary and Edinburgh.

There have been many books, films, documentaries etc on Mary Stuart, giving us many perceptions of Mary, those involved with her, and incidents in her life. A story of power, politics, romance, religion, murder and treachery. Mary Queen of Scots spent six short but turbulent years here in the capital, at a pivotal time in Scottish history. And the drama that unfolded has fascinated generations ever since.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Summer 2013

2013 was really good for business this summer, we were able to inform, entertain and show off Edinburgh to a lot of people from all over the world, and they in turn gave us some great reviews. Here is a selection of group photos from the summer of 2013.


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

TripAdvisor 2013 Certificate of Excellence Winner

TripAdvisor is delighted to recognise Edinburgh Saints and Sinners Tours with a 2013 Certificate of Excellence.

This prestigious award, which places you in the top-performing 10% of all businesses worldwide on TripAdvisor, is given to businesses that consistently earn high ratings from TripAdvisor travellers.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Calton Hill (Edinburgh)

One thing I would recommend doing in Edinburgh if you can, is to go up the Calton hill. From the Barmoral Hotel at the east end of Princes St, head further east into Waterloo Pl, then about 300 m on the left side you come to the steps that take you up the hill.

It is a steady 5/10 mins climb up the stairs then a tarmac path way. It is really worth the effort as you get great 360 degree panoramic views of Edinburgh and its surrounding districts on a clear day, it also has to offer some great monuments of interest which form some of the most important landmarks of the city.

Calton Hill is one of Edinburgh's main hills, set right in the city centre. It is unmistakable with its Athenian acropolis poking above the skyline. The acropolis is in fact an unfinished monument - originally called the "National Monument" (nicknamed by locals Edinburgh’s shame!) Initiated in 1816, a year after Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, it was meant to be a replica of the Parthenon in Athens, as a memorial to those who had died in the Napoleonic Wars. 

It is home to some other famous historic monuments. The Nelson Monument, shaped like an up-turned telescope commemorates the death of Admiral Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. However in 1852 a time ball was added to the top to enable ships moored in the Firth of Forth to set their time-pieces accurately. The City Observatory is also located here, a Greek temple styled building designed by William Henry Playfair in 1818.

Panoramic views of major landmarks can be seen from a bird’s eye view: Arthur’s Seat with the Crags behind Holyrood Palace and the new Scottish Parliament, Leith and the Firth of Forth, Princes Street in its New Town grid and the Royal Mile climbing up towards the Castle, also a great spot for enjoying the Edinburgh Festival & Hogmanay fireworks. The last day of April also sees the Beltane Fire Festival reviving an old Celtic tradition.

Calton Hill with its volcanic rockbase, gorse-strewn hillface and windswept ruggedness, it remains a rough gem.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Edinburgh’s Beau Geste ?

Edinburgh is famous for its stories here one of them – I was in St John’s Episcopal Church in Princes St and in the north aisle a plaque to John Stuart Stuart Forbes who was in the  7th cavalry and died at the Battle of Little Bighorn, and I wondered how did this Edinburgh man end up in the battle ? No one knows the full story but I wonder if he is Edinburgh’s Beau Geste ?
Let’s remind ourselves of the story – it’s about the British upper class values of a time gone by, and "the decent thing to do. A valuable jewel goes missing, suspicion falls on the young people, and Beau leaves Britain to join the Foreign Legion followed by his brothers, they have many dangerous adventures, only one brother, John lives to go home. Lady Brandon reads Beau's letter, which reveals that Beau stole the gem because he knew it was a fake. Lady Brandon had sold the real one years before, and Beau wanted to protect her. As a child, he was hiding in a suit of armour and witnessed the transaction (which is shown in a flashback near the beginning of the film). 
So back to our Edinburgh Beau, the son of banker Charles Hay Forbes and Jemima Rebecca and grandson of a baronet, and he had attended Edinburgh Academy and Rugby public school, he is professional gambler and an act of dishonour takes place, we have no idea what this is, and he leaves Edinburgh, travels to New Zealand and America, he gives a false name when he joins the cavalry Hiley - his sister's married name Why? Now like all Edinburgh stories different versions of events – it’s said that he signed up for 5 years, throughout his service Forbes was a member of E Company, known as the Gray Horse Company. He died yards from Custer in a hail of bullets and arrows, with only months to his discharge when he died. 
In his trunk it was found, among other things, a faro bank (FARO was originally French card gambling game, but became popular in 19c America it had the position of a national game. The methods of cheating used in connection with it were numerous) Hiley being a great gambler. In the trunk also was a letter from his mother, showing her to be a lady of nobility in Scotland. In this letter she informed him that the trouble he had gotten into in his native country was soon to be settled and he could return unmolested." He clearly had a secret to hide, so do we have Edinburgh’s Beau Geste? Was he man of honour who sadly died like Beau at his post Alas, we'll never know.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Holyrood Park and Arthur Seat

My first adventure into the park and Arthur Seat was at the early age of 18 months, my mother took me to the top, and ever since it has been my favourite place in a city that offers many exciting, original and fascinating places. Originally a royal park in centuries past for hunting, also it has been known as the Kings Park or Queens Park depending who was on the throne, today it is generally called Holyrood Park. As I child, teenager & adult I have explored, walked, ran and played football in it and have never tired of the place as it changes with the seasons. 

Arthur Seat 823ft (253m) the name is one of the mysteries of the park, not generally thought to be anything to do with the heroic king, but it has been suggested that it may derive from a Gaelic phrase Ard-na-Said “ Height of the Arrows” it sits majestically in the middle the remnants of an ancient volcano from 350 million years ago, the park still has the evidence of early dwellers from the stone and bronze ages, within its ground is the ruin of the 12C Abbey of Holy Rood and next to it the British monarch’s B&B !! The Palace of Holyrood House, which is official Scottish residence of the Monarch.

Legend tells us that King David! went hunting on a religious day and was charged by stag to saved himself he held up a holy rood (a crucifix) between the stags antlers and it ran away in a dream that night he was told to build a monastery in  thanks for his life. He had in the Abbey of the Holy Rood, built in 1128, which was attended by St Augustine monks, also known as cannons, they walked up the road to Edinburgh and it became known as the canons gait, gait is the old Scots word for way or walk. A burgh was established and today it is known by and anglicised name of Cannongate.  Also on its border we now have the new Scottish Parliament and an attraction called Dynamic Earth which charts the earth’s history from the big bang.

To walk round the park it is 3.1 miles or 5K. It has 3 lochs two manmade St Margaret’s & Dunsapie created by Queen Victoria’s husband Albert and the other Duddingston is a bird sanctuary and a place of scientific significance.  Over the centuries It has been a place of joy, sadness, murder, suicide, lovers, a sense of freedom and yet another mystery – In 1836 five boys schoolboys discovered in a cave on the high slopes of the summit, inside where two rows of tiny coffins 3 or 4 inches in height, 17 in all, each containing a carefully carved wooden figure dressed in funeral clothes. There is no clear explanation as to what they were for some suggest it was to do with black magic, what do you think?

Today the park is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, for me it is a joy, to have such a natural beauty in the middle of the city I think is something special.