Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

Duncan Smith's 'Only in' series of city guides always strikes a chord with hidden europe readers. Here, Duncan gives a taste of his new Edinburgh guide, introducing us to the Cramond district of the Scottish city.

article summary —

Every European city has its place to which locals like to escape. Given the chance, the Viennese escape to the leafy Wienerwald, while residents of Madrid might take the cercanías train up to El Escorial for cool breezes and a dose of history. In Edinburgh, one might on a summer’s day retreat to the beach at Portobello or take the bus out to Dr Neil’s lochside gardens at Duddingston.

Another good antidote to the bustle of Edinburgh is to take the bus to Cramond. Just eight kilometres from Edinburgh city centre, this delightful waterfront village is located where the River Almond joins the Firth of Forth. Its attractions include a ruined Roman fort, a mediaeval tower house and an offshore island reached by a tidal causeway. Visitors should alight from Lothian Bus 41 at Cramond Glebe Road, where there is a sign for the village. It is worth reflecting that although Cramond has been part of Edinburgh since 1920, it has a very long history of its own. Indeed archaeologists have unearthed evidence for a Mesolithic campsite here; nomadic huntergatherers evidently made this their home as early as 8500 BC. This makes Cramond the earliest known site of human settlement in Scotland.

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Having worked for many years in the publishing industry selling other travel writers’ books, Duncan J. D. Smith decided in 2003 to start writing and illustrating his own. As a self-styled ‘Urban Explorer’, travel writer, historian and photographer he has embarked on a lifetime’s adventure, travelling off the beaten track in search of the world’s unique, hidden and unusual locations. He has so far traversed four continents in search of curious places and people, from the wartime bunkers of Berlin and the baroque gardens of Prague to the souks of Damascus and the rock-cut churches of Ethiopia. His European findings are being published in a ground breaking series of guidebooks – the Only In Guides – which have been designed specifically for the purpose. Volumes on Berlin, Boston, Budapest, Cologne, Edinburgh, Hamburg, London, Munich, Paris, Prague, Vienna and Zurich have been published, with Krakow in preparation.

Duncan divides his time between England and Central Europe, and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Find out more about Duncan and his work at www.duncanjdsmith.com and www.onlyinguides.com.

This article was published in hidden europe 51.