Visit Leith and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Leith, City of Edinburgh. To go North from Edinburgh, you set out from the same spot as you do on the New Town eastward journey; that is, from the Register House at the end of Princes Street. You go down Leith Street and soon find yourself in Leith Walk, which at its inception had the makings of as fine a boulevard as you could see anywhere. Apart from O'Connell Street in Dublin, it is in places the widest two-sided street in the British Isles. And at the beginning it supports this amplitude by a show of grand houses, in the New Town style, now fallen from their high estate. A little lower down on this declension to the sea, Leith Walk narrows and becomes less ambitious.
Leith Walk in its fine start possibly owes its origin to the idea that the Edinburgh of the New Town should have a splendid approach to its nearest (and then independent) seaport, Leith. But the arrival of the railway, in the late 1830s and '40s, no longer made Leith the formal approach by which royal and other important personages came to the capital of Scotland. It remains, however, the legacy of an ambitious and worthy idea.
Leith became incorporated with Edinburgh as late as 1920. In its independent history, however, as the cardinal East of Scotland port, it is almost as old as Edinburgh. Always overshadowed by the presence of the capital on the Rock, it nevertheless prized its own identity. To this day, when you enter Leith, you feel a slightly different atmosphere about you from that of Edinburgh.
This is due not only to the presence of the sea, and the unmistakable surroundings of a port, but to the antiquity of the houses and the narrow, sometimes rather foreign-looking, streets.
In Constitution Street are the Assembly Rooms, or Exchange Buildings, of 1788 in the style of the period. And in Baltic Street (appropriately named after the old seafaring trade) is the Corn Exchange. In Water Street — the old Water Lane that was — we find Lamb's House, the most ancient dwelling-house in Leith, well preserved and restored. Mary Stuart stayed at this historic place on her return to Scotland. Scotland's first Cardinal since the Reformation, Archbishop Gordon Joseph Gray, was born in Leith. Leith too is a centre of violent Protestant reaction.
The Water of Leith, the little Edinburgh river, runs into the sea at Leith. And near its exit are the modern docks of this ancient port.
Nearby cities: Edinburgh
Nearby towns: Dalkeith, Granton, Portobello, Musselburgh
Have you decided to visit Leith or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Leith bed and breakfast (a Leith B&B or Leith b and b)
- a Leith guesthouse
- a Leith hotel (or motel)
- a Leith self-catering establishment, or
- other Leith accommodation