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Jul 16, 2013 11:40 AM

Edinburgh: what's in the picnic basket?

I'll be in Edinburgh for all of August and am looking to woo my sweetie with a very nice picnic at some point. I'd appreciate suggestions on good places to picnic that are in proximity to good places for provisions.

What should be in the picnic basket?

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  1. Bear in mind that the weather in Edinburgh is as unrealiable as the trains! I'd pick where you want to go for your picnic first and worry about the sourcing later. In August, the city centre is generally packed particularly if the weather is nice ie picnic weather. If you want somewhere romantic you really want to get out of the centre a bit. The closed place with great views maybe being up The Crags which are next to Arthur's seat. Or if you are here for the whole month, would you consider traveling outside of the city?

    1 Reply
    1. re: AWaiting

      Travelling outside the city is a great idea, there are some lovely spots but it depends how far you want to travel outside the city centre and/or walk. The crags/holyrood park are lovely but I suggest you scope it out first as its quite a wide area and not really a picnicking place so if you don't get the spot quite right you'll be run over by runners, dog walkers etc which won't be that romantic, unless its a quick drink and a sandwich type picnic. It does get very busy at weekends. For an illicit quick drink and snack on a bench, the botanic gardens has a lovely view over the castle and the city, go the the benches right at the top of the gardens by the terrace cafe (you're not supposed to take food/have a picnic in the botanics I don't think). Opposite the way from it is Inverleith Park - picnicking would be done on the slopes by the pond (unless again you want to be run over by off lead dogs and sport games). you're close to stockbridge and lots of provisions, particularly if you time it with stockbridge market. Blackford Hill by the observatory isn't too far from the provisions of morningside if you don't mind a ten/fifteen minute walk, lovely views, not really a picnicking area but that's good as it means it will be quite, but its safe enough to picnic if you perch on the edge over the views. As said above, places where people go to picnic in edinburgh if weather is even just a bit better than okay = lots and lots of people plus in some areas it tends to be studenty types barbecuing

      Don't know what to suggest for a picnic basket as we tend to make our own picnic, but if I had to get provisions a quality scotch egg (can usually be found in a farmer's market), a good meat pie (like a pork pie) - these are things I wouldn't make at home and are handy for a picnic. Or a range of good meats, cheeses and bread. Then a walk to an ice cream place once the picnicking is done. In Stockbridge - Peter's Yard does ice cream, on your way back from morningside you could walk back to the centre of town from bruntsfield - chocolate tree shop sometimes does good ice cream, I'm partial to their chocolate sorbet with chilli but flavours rotate a lot, this walk could also take you past another Peter's Yard, and Kondeterie in Bruntsfield also does ice cream.

    2. Can't really help with the contents of the basket, but take her up to Holyrood park, not on Arthur's seat, but the part to the northeast of it, above Dunsapie Loch. Its quieter there, less people, and very nice on a sunny day.

      If either of you aren't up for a bit of hiking, then there's also the Meadows, or you can take the bus/car to Portobello beach.

      1. If you are interested in assembling an Italian-flavored picnic basket (cheeses, cold cuts, etc.), visit Valvona & Crolla, one of the best Italian delis in Britain.

        1. Great suggestions all, thanks. We're happy to hike and possibly even head out of town for the day to get away from the festival crowds and dog walkers... all, of course, weather permitting.

          Intrigued by Dunsapie Loch-- any recs for quality provisions between there and Leith?

          1. I take it you are going to the festival? You will definitely feel like getting out the city to escape the madness for a couple of days. I guess my first question is where are you from? I would suggest that you took a couple of day trips by train/car - St Andrews and the villages in the East Neuk of Fife are picturesque and only an hour(ish) drive from Edinburgh or an hour(ish) on the train to St Andrews (Leuchars station). Some of the seaside towns in East Lothian are also lovely - North Berwick was a traditional Victorian holiday resort. Worth also going to Glasgow for the day... anyway.. back to your question...

            Picnic places - I second blackford hill - a very different view of the city and Arthur's seat is classic.

            Picnic provisions - can[t think of anything out the the ordinary but you would do far worse than to check out the farmer's market on castle terrace.


            or - also good is

            Edinburgh is a great city and August is a great time to be visiting - hope you have lots of fun!

            5 Replies
            1. re: alisonk

              In morningside (on way to blackford hill) is Bakery Andante and if you're very flush there's IJ Mellis for cheese, there's also a Henri's which is a french deli with bread and the usual stuff, meats, terrines etc. For East Neuk, its tricky and takes a while to get to by public transport if you don't have a car, but if you can get bikes for the day, there's lovely little quite roads to go down and you can train and bike it, east pier smokehouse in St Monans I enjoyed, they give your food in a cardboard box to eat in or take out, it was the only place in North East Fife that isn't constantly packed. Crail is really cute with crail harbour cafe with great views

              1. re: orchidalbion

                Agreed with crail - great little lobster hut where you pick your live lobster and they boil it whilst you wait. It's nothing fancy, just a shack and you eat on benches at the harbour, but it is great! They also do dressed crab... but it is literally just lobster or crab. You need to bring your own drinks - wine or soft, and any sides you want... but it is great value on a nice day!

                1. re: alisonk

                  I've been hearing about this hut for ages but I've never managed to find it - think I'm just being a bit dense - not like Crail is that big! Are they there all the time - is it by the harbour?

                  1. re: orchidalbion

                    Been a year since I was there last, but it is right at the harbour. The crab and live lobsters are in a shed, and the kitchen bit where they do the boiling is in the old stone building beside it. You sit at the benches across the harbour - some of them are under shelter I think....

                    I think that hours are a bit chaotic during the off season, but they should be more regular in summer. If you go to the honeypot they should give you the heads up - it was them that told us the opening hours last year, and I am pretty certain that they get their crab from them.

                    Are you local to Crail? We live in St Andrews - it's really great that the Scottish contingent on CH is coming out! I must try the smokehouse in St Monans - I think I have had some of their mackerel from Kereghers

                    1. re: alisonk

                      Thanks - must try again. Not local, Edinburgh based, but I have a family member in Cupar so I'm often around the area.