12:40PM - THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SCOTLAND (FREE TO ENTER) DESERVES ALL THE PLAUDITS IT RECEIVES
especially since 10 new galleries opened last year with a focus on art, science, fashion and technology. A staggeringly beautiful mix of Victorian and modern architecture, it now contains over 10,000 jaw-dropping objects, ranging from a full T-Rex skeleton and suspended-from-the-ceiling aeroplanes to stuffed pandas and a sample of penicillin inscribed by Alexander Fleming. Few places could carry off collections as diverse as this: the stuffed body of Dolly the Sheep, 11 of the Lewis chessmen, flags from the battle of Culloden and the tomb of Mary, Queen of Scots, all in one space. Be sure to stop by the Scotland galleries for a whistle-stop tour of the country from prehistory to the present.
15:00PM - CUT BACK UP TO THE ROYAL MILE AND HEAD WEST
dropping into High Kirk of St Giles – or St Giles Cathedral – on the way. This brooding, magnificent fourteenth-century Gothic masterpiece is one of the Royal Mile’s standout buildings and a mesmerising mix of carvings, ornate chapels and beautiful stained and painted glass windows. It was here that John Knox, whose house you will have already passed, preached his sermons, heralding the Reformation in Scotland. Then, if you’re in the mood for a quick snifter, The Devil’s Advocate down the alleyway opposite the cathedral has an incredible list of single malt whiskies. Alternatively, for the more shopping minded, cut down St Giles’ Street and along The Mound into Edinburgh’s New Town to that famous retail hotspot, Princes Street.
16:00PM - EDINBURGH CASTLE NEEDS LITTLE INTRODUCTION.
This bastion fortress bristling with cannons dominates the skyline; perched like an eagle on Castle Rock, it surveys the city. With origins dating back millennia, today it houses the twelfth-century Margaret’s Chapel, the National War Museum of Scotland and the Great Hall built by James IV in 1510. Within its walls you can also see The Honours (the Scottish Crown Jewels), the massive siege canon Mons Meg and the antechamber where Mary, Queen of Scots, gave birth to the king who’d become the first to rule a united Britain, James VI.
A wonderful Georgian building smartly re-styled inside, Ten Hill Place, WorldHotels Distinctive is owned by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and all profits go back into training surgeons worldwide. As well as being AA-rosette awarded, chef Alan Dickson has just scooped Chef of the Year at the Scottish Hotel Awards and his menu is an incredible reward after a day on your feet. Try the lobster bisque with lobster tail and saffron mayo followed by the five-course tasting menu (if you can fit it in) or the Scotch beef sirloin with shallots and chips cooked in dripping. Finish with salted caramel mousse with whisky jelly and banana ice cream.