Back in December, we visited Edinburgh and once again it beat us!
What was supposed to be a long overdue visit to Edinburgh Castle and Edinburgh Christmas Market turned out to be a frustrating drive around the one-way system and another abandoned trip?
What we hadn’t planned for was hundreds of thousands of people who had the same itinerary as us. The tirades of festive visitors made navigating Edinburgh in a wheelchair almost impossible.
From the outset, I’m not blaming Edinburgh for being successful. But, from my perspective, I have to consider people knocking into Bridget and vice versa. If you’ve ever been hit in the shins with a metal footrest you’ll know what I mean, and as a responsible wheelchair driver, I have to consider others.
Back in 2014 we tried to visit Edinburgh but had to cancel the trip because we were both ill. This time, we’d planned every detail or so we thought. The one aspect of visiting in December we’d overlooked was the crowds, and boy there were crowds!
It should be said, Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, therefore it’s a popular tourist destination. Add Christmas bargain hunters and Christmas market visitors and the place becomes intolerably busy, and that’s how once again – Edinburgh Beat us!
Here’s what happened:
We were actually staying further up the coast at Homelands in Fife and Edinburgh was a day trip. We set off early, navigated the roadworks on the new bridge and arrived in Edinburgh city centre mid-morning.
We knew the castle would be busy so made it our first port of call. I’d contacted the castle in advance of our visit and they explained how we were able to drive up to the castle to the disabled parking and how the mobility buggy could then take us up to the castle gates.
Getting to the castle was where we encountered the first problem. The road up to the castle is pedestrianised and not accessible to vehicles, but is open to cars displaying a blue badge.
Under normal circumstances, you’d just have to drive carefully through the pedestrian area. As I’ve already mentioned, visiting in December is not normal circumstances and despite my best efforts the road up to the castle was impossible in a car.
I kid you not, thousands of pedestrians were going about their business and were no doubt not expecting a car. Had I actually attempted the drive up I would have at worst hit an unsuspecting pedestrian and at least got lynched for even attempting it.
I took the view, these people are all in Christmas mode and the chances of them reading the fine detail on the sign at the bottom of the road was slim. Therefore, the only sensible thing to do was to leave Edinburgh Castle for another (less busy) day.
Take a look at the Access For All page on the castle website
Having driven around in circles for about an hour before abandoning the castle, it was time to find a place to park up and gather my thoughts. As luck would have it, I spotted a sign for the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood so headed there.
Scottish Parliament at Holyrood
Purely by accident, we found free disabled parking outside the front door of the parliament. It’s an interesting building, but before we marvelled in its design we went inside to pay a visit to the little boys and girls room.
As luck would have it, there was a disabled toilet near the entrance. Not so lucky, but absolutely necessary, we had to be searched before we entered the parliament.
Here’s the access information for the Scottish Parliament
Once we passed through security and were suitable relieved we decided to have a little bimble in the parliament and found ourselves in the cafe.
I’m going to give you a heads up – if you visit, you must have a cheese toastie and parliament shortbread. I promise you, these are the tastiest I’ve had anywhere in the UK, who’d of thunk it? The Coronation Chicken baguette wasn’t bad either…
Anyway, we had a little look around Parliament and set off to attempt the Edinburgh Christmas Market.
Edinburgh Christmas Market
You guessed it, Edinburgh Christmas Market, in fact, Edinburgh city centre was heaving.
From the car, the market, funfair and city centre looked spectacular, if you want to get in the festive mood then Edinburgh is the place to go.
But, we couldn’t find a suitable parking space close enough to the main event and even if we had, pushing the chair through the crowds wouldn’t be for the faint hearted.
In the end, we collectively decided that it just wasn’t worth the stress or potential injury so once again we Edinburgh beat us.
We, of course, were disappointed, but we know that one day soon we’ll be back. We are already planning our next visit, this time it will include getting the train into Edinburgh and staying in the city centre – so watch this space!
To see more of our Scottish escapades visit The Bimblers in Scotland