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Exploring Stockbridge - An Edinburgh Neighbourhood Guide

Stockbridge, Edinburgh, UK


Well before the days of my Instagram account Exploring Edinburgh when I was still at high school, I would occasionally visit Stockbridge with my mum or friends. I loved spending a good few hours popping in and out of their charity shops, stopping by Patisserie Madeleine (sadly, now closed) for a plate of macarons or one of their indulgent eclairs, and I even had my 16th birthday party at the (also, now closed) Bead Shop in Stockbridge. It might sound a bit mad, but every time I re-visit this village-like neighbourhood it feels as if I'm revisiting an old friend and I enjoy wandering around catching up on what has changed since I was last there. Therefore, I thought it only right that Stockbridge should be my first in a series of Edinburgh Neighbourhood guides! For those of you who have a copy of my book 'Pockets of Pretty: An Instagrammer's Edinburgh', first, I just wanted to say a huge thank you, and second, some aspects of this blog may be similar to my Stockbridge chapter but I've tried to write it in a different format.


Exploring Stockbridge - An Edinburgh Neighbourhood Guide

 

A few fun facts about Stockbridge

  • Originally a small outlying village, Stockbridge was incorporated into the City of Edinburgh in the 19th century.
  • Stockbridge is named after the bridge at the heart of the neighbourhood. In Scots, stock bridge means timber footbridge. However, there's no point looking for a wood bridge today as the original timber bridge was replaced in 1801 with a stone bridge.
  • Celebrated portrait painter, Sir Henry Raeburn was born and brought up in Stockbridge. Anyone else love his portrait of the skating minister on Duddingston Loch?
  • Stockbridge was also home to the original Mrs. Doubtfire. The novelist Anne Fine lived in the neighbourhood and encountered the eccentric Madame Doubtfire, who owned a store on SE Circus Place. Anne Fine ended up writing a novel of the same name which inspired Robin William's character.

How to get to Stockbridge

  • Stockbridge is just a short walk from New Town, roughly 15 minutes from Princes Street. There are various routes to get there, but I normally walk down Fredrick Street, continuing down Howe Street, and turning left on SE Circus Place until I reach Stockbridge. 
  • There's also the option of taking the 24, 29, or 42 by Lothian Bus (I tend to take the bus back as it's all uphill). However, there are major roadworks until August 2020 so bus routes are diverted.

Exploring Stockbridge - Join me for a walk

I've spent a good while thinking about the best format to introduce you to my favourite Stockbridge spots and I think a walk through Stockbridge might be best. I'm not exactly sure how long this walk would take but I think it's possible in an afternoon!

Circus Lane

Route: As you enter Stockbridge via Circus Place, before continuing down to the heart of Stockbridge, let's take a right on Circus Lane.

Few streets in Edinburgh are as charming as Circus Lane, so it's no wonder that this little lane has become quite the Instagram celebrity in recent years. Lined with old fashioned street lamps and various blooms, Circus Lane draws its visitors in and leads them along the cobble path and just when you think it couldn't get any more quaint, you'll encounter a slight bend where the striking St Stephen's church (designed by legendary William Playfair) comes into view.



St Stephen Street & Stockbridge Market Archway

Route: As you leave Circus Lane behind, head left along St Stephen Street.

Edinburgh is renowned for its vibrant independent scene and several streets have become havens for independent stores such as St Stephen Street. The street is home to a variety of stores such as one of the best independent bookshops in Edinburgh, Golden Hare Books; the hugely popular lifestyle store, The Method; the fresh and modern children's store, Bon Tot; plus many more! Halfway along St Stephen Street, look out for the old Stockbridge Market archway, tucked away on St Stephen Place. The archway once led to Edinburgh’s largest meat, poultry and fish market, and in more recent years, it even featured in the BBC period drama North and South!


Stockbridge's Main Street and Antony Gormley's Statue 

Route: As you exit St Stephen Street, you'll emerge onto Kerr Street. By turning right and continuing along Kerr Street, you'll soon reach a few of Stockbridge's landmarks, including the bridge it's named after and its iconic clock tower (once the Edinburgh Savings Bank and now Pizza Express).

As you leave behind St Stephen Street and turn onto Stockbridge's main thoroughfare (consisting of Kerr Street, Deanhaugh Street, and Raeburn Place), keep an eye out for all its charming village-like traits like a local cheesemonger, florist, fishmonger, etc... as well as a variety of independent shops and a plethora of charity shops. A few of my personal favourites are Caoba which sells Mexican crafts and decorations; I.J. Mellis, a brilliant cheesemonger selling everything from artisan bread to local honey; and An Independent Zebra which stocks quirky and unique products from 120 different small businesses. 
Tip: As you're crossing over the bridge to Deanhaugh Street, don't forget to peer over the left side to see one of Antony Gormley's statues in the Water of Leith!


Dean Park Mews 

Route: As Raeburn Place turns into Comely Bank Road, turn left onto Dean Park Street then right onto Dean Park Mews.

I tend to think of Dean Park Mews as Circus Lane's charming yet forgotten cousin. The lane consists of two rows of mews houses facing each other, and similar to Circus Lane, the green-fingered residents of Dean Park Mews have taken care of what little greenery they have at the front of their houses. I always enjoy a walk through the mews lane as it's extremely peaceful and you'll very likely encounter a few feline friends along the way.


Ann Street

Route: From Dean Park Mews turn right onto Dean Park Crescent then left onto Ann Street.

Named after Henry Raeburn's wife, Ann Street stands out in Stockbridge as it's one of the few streets that have front gardens. As a result, it's one of my favourite places for a walk in spring as their gardens remind me of a watercolour painting as their wisteria, tulips, and camellia burst into bloom. 
Tip: Ann Street has access to one of the most amazing private gardens, Dean Gardens, in Edinburgh and on certain days in summer the gates are flung open to the public. Keep an eye on Doors Open Days and Scotland's Garden Scheme as it's well worth a visit!


St Bernard's Well on the Water of Leith Walkway

Route: As you leave Ann Street behind, follow the road along Upper Dean Terrace (equally pretty) till you reach St Bernard's Bridge and head down the steps to join up with the Water of Leith Walkway.

The walk between Stockbridge and Dean Village, along the Water of Leith Walkway, is one of my all-time favourites - it's so peaceful and scenic! However, I wanted to point out St Bernard's Well as it's an unexpected hidden gem to come across. St Bernard's Well was designed by Alexander Nasmyth and dates back to 1789, on the site of an earlier mineral water well, which many locals believed had medicinal and healing properties. 
Tip: If you're wondering where I stood to take the below photo of St Bernard's Well, I took it on one of Dean Gardens' open days!


Potted Garden & Duncan's Land


Route: Once you've explored St Bernard's Well, head back up to St Bernard's Bridge and turn right. The road will lead you to India Place where you'll continue until you reach Duncan's Land and the Potted Garden. You'll notice that this brings us back to where we started at NW Circus Place!

Last, but not least, I wanted to finish our walk at two of my favourite Instagram spots in Stockbridge. As you approach Duncan's Land from the top of India Place (from St Bernard's Bridge), it looks like a lovely old building, but, personally, I think its best angle is seen by leaning over the stone wall and admiring the rear of the property (pictured below). Interestingly, most of the house was built out of the rubble of demolished buildings in the Old Town’s Bank Street, which is just off the Royal Mile.
Just after Duncan's Land is the Potted Garden - a characterful house with creative and green-fingered residents. As you approach it, you'll notice an assortment of plant pots filled with colourful blooms displayed on the stone staircase leading to its front door and a collection of plants adorning its front garden. It's especially magical during spring and summer!


Where to go for a coffee (or in my case tea)?


There are two things I love to do when I'm out exploring. First, wander aimlessly. Second, stop for tea and cake. When it comes to Stockbridge, I'm not exaggerating when I say there are so many cafes to choose from. I have to admit, there are still many which I'm yet to visit, so I'm by no means a Stockbridge cafe expert, but here are a few of my go-to favourites! 
Note: All the cafes mentioned below are fairly humble in size and can get pretty busy (especially on weekends) so please don't be too disappointed if one is full, there are plenty to visit! 
 

Pastry Section

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of the Pastry Section! Their lovely owner Lesley has created a beautiful, calming space with a selection of indulgent and seasonal bakes. If I'm in the neighbourhood there's a very good chance I'll end up here!

La Barantine

As I mentioned above, one of my favourite spots in Stockbridge used to be Patisserie Madeline so you can imagine my sadness when they suddenly closed. However, I am so glad that the brilliant La Barantine decided to open their fourth cafe there so I can still get my French sweet treat fix when I'm in Stockbridge!

Mini Lovecrumbs

When I lived near Lauriston, I used to be a regular at Lovecrumbs' original West Port cafe (their floral cakes were always my favourite) so I was thrilled when I heard that they were opening a Mini Lovecrumbs in Stockbridge. As the name suggests, Mini Lovecrumbs is fairly small but that makes for a lovely, cosy atmosphere. They've also made the best use of the space by converting a corridor into a beautifully-curated store selling various lifestyle products.

Soderberg

Sitting proudly on Stockbridge's main street, Soderberg is a brilliant cafe specialising in authentic Swedish sandwiches, bread, pastries, and cakes. Personally, I love picking up a takeaway cinnamon or cardamom bun for a treat to enjoy as I walk around Stockbridge.


Further tips

There are a few bits and pieces that I haven't had the chance to include in my Stockbridge neighbourhood guide yet which are still important so I've created a list below.

Stockbridge weekly market

Every Sunday, the Stockbridge market pops up on the space between Saunders Street and Gloucester Street. Crowds of locals and visitors flock to it to enjoy lunch at popular stalls like Harajuku Kitchen or Casa Roble Paella, and to pick up artisan treats from various traders.

Stockbridge Colonies and Little Free Library

A short walk from Stockbridge's main steet lies a charming collection of colony houses. These Victorian cottages were built by the Edinburgh Co-operative Building Company to provide housing for working people, and to this day have a lovely community atmosphere (keep an eye out for events they host). Also, I highly recommend walking to Teviotdale Place to visit their Little Free Library, just be sure to bring a book to swap!

The Succulent Garden

On the outskirts of Stockbridge, Henderson Row to be precise, lies one of the most creative and quirky front entrances to a house. From a cacti-covered armchair and lampshade to teapots and wellies brimming with succulents, it's a feast for the eyes. I just hope they never move house!



Hope you enjoyed exploring Stockbridge with me!


1 comment

  1. What a wonderful guide! Going to have to check out mini Lovecrumbs while I'm home for a few weeks!

    ReplyDelete

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