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A personal tour of Edinburgh


By Spalding Today Columnist


During our week at the Edinburgh Fringe, we opted to escape the madness from time to time. There are a number of walking tours we could have booked: ghostly trails in the Old Town, Harry Potter tours or a Rebus walk for fans of Ian Rankin's Detective Inspector.

I didn't expect to be taken on a Dougie Burgess tour of the city but that's what we unwittingly created as we criss-crossed Edinburgh's streets.

Our accommodation was located in the Quartermile area: a new development on the former site of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and, more significantly, the Simpson Memorial Hospital where Dougie was born.

Burgess Street, Edinburgh (16006762)
Burgess Street, Edinburgh (16006762)

The trail took us a few yards north to Lauriston Place and George Heriot's School where the young Burgess was educated. With its part-Gothic architecture and turreted towers, there's something very Hogwarts about it. It's not surprising to learn that JK Rowling was inspired to write, sitting at a table in The Elephant House cafe just around the corner from the school.

Near the Royal Botanical Gardens in Goldenacre we slipped into the school's playing fields to take a photo, only to be questioned by an imposing chap who wondered what we were doing there. Dougie recognised him as vice president of Heriot's Rugby Club and former Scotland rugby player, Iain Milne, nicknamed 'The Bear'.

Exploring the paths along the Water of Leith, we discovered Dougie's home where he lived until he was 13. He showed me the window of his old bedroom and the sharp metal railings he would scale over to play along the old railway track.

George Heriot's School (16006806)
George Heriot's School (16006806)

He pointed out the Glenogle Swimming Pool plus his old dentists, barber and library. Pleasance Courtyard, one of the main Fringe venues, was where Dougie played volleyball in the Scottish Universities championship in the mid 1980s.

We travelled on all his old bus routes: 11, 23 and 27. The number 35 also took us to the harbour of Leith where there are family connections going back to previous generations. It was here Dougie spotted Burgess Street, though I'm not entirely convinced this was named after any specific ancestor.

Walking up to Calton Hill, site of Parthenon-inspired National Monument of Scotland and the City Observatory, I learned that Dougie would be taken here in his pram when he was a baby. Eating fish and chips at Newhaven also brought back memories of family trips to the harbour.

On our final evening we had a wonderful meal at Ten Hill Place in an area of the city called Surgeons Quarter. The hotel is owned by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. All profits from the hotel go back to training surgeons worldwide. Although Dougie didn't train to be a doctor in Edinburgh, it felt a rather appropriate place to be sated and sozzled on our last night in this beautiful city. By Trish Burgess

Childhood memories of Calton Hill (16006781)
Childhood memories of Calton Hill (16006781)

You can read Trish's blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk

Previously...

All the fun of the Fringe



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