The Old Town is the name for the original and oldest part of Scotland’s capital which naturally evolved around the fortified Edinburgh Castle just a short walk from the entrance to Cheval Old Town Chambers. With its imposing position on top of a mound of solid rock, the castle has seen its share of battles and sieges over the centuries. Today the castle is the city’s most well-known tourist attraction, with well over 2 million visitors every year. You’ll need to allow a full day to tour the castle’s various attractions and to get a feel for the residences, fortifications and, naturally, prison cells open to the public. The castle also houses the Honours of Scotland, the oldest crown jewels in the British Isles.
The castle sits at the top of what is known as the Royal Mile which leads in a downward slope to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the British Monarch when in Scotland. The mile in question is in fact a Scottish mile, measuring 5,952 feet in contrast to a standard mile which measures 5,280 feet. The latter was introduced following the 1701 Union of the Parliaments act which officially brought together England and Scotland. Irrespective of the measurement used, it’s a good idea to bring some comfy walking shoes.
No part of the street is officially called The Royal Mile in terms of legal addresses. The actual street names (running west to east) are Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street, Canongate and Abbey Strand. The area has preserved much of its medieval street plan and many Reformation-era buildings. Together with the 18th/19th-century New Town located on the other side of the city’s main railway station, Waverley, it forms part of a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. The views at the top are spectacular, particularly on a clear day.
At the bottom of the Royal Mile also sits the Scottish Parliament which opened in 2004 and is free to visit. Other notable attractions include St. Giles’ Cathedral and the National Museum of Scotland.
In between the castle and the palace, and in some of the intriguing side streets (referred to as ‘closes’) you’ll find an extensive range of restaurants, bars, shops and other attractions guaranteed to keep you busy during your visit. You will also not struggle to find somewhere to sample Scotland’s arguably most famous export, whisky. Ask our team for their recommendations, or you can download the Cheval App which includes some of our all-time favourites.