Edinburgh: Leith

Juliet Buchan explores the sea shore with a trip down to Leith.

Feature by Juliet Buchan | 18 Sep 2009


Since the Burgh of Leith officially merged with the City of Edinburgh in 1920, Leith has staunchly continued to maintain its own individual character. Leith Walk is the main artery that connects Leith to the city and its two sides are pulsing with some of the most unique outlets in town, from quaint little cafes to shops specialising in obscure combinations like ‘Darts & TV’s’, you are bound to find any of your Fresherly needs at a price that won’t impinge harshly on your extra-curricular funds. Further towards the harbour nestles The Shore: a little inshore haven where you can escape the hustle and bustle and indulge yourself in one of the bistros, pubs or dining boats around the canal. Particularly pretty at night when the ship rigging is lit up, The Shore is the perfect location for balmy summer nights, as well as cheerful festivity in the winter.


For the studious who recognise the important of nutrition for proper concentration, or someone who is just looking for a cure of the most tenacious of hangovers, The King's Wark (36 The Shore) provides old style nautical charm and famed quality breakfasts not to be matched. For lunch, or something a bit more Mediterranean, Cafe Truva (77 The Shore) is a cafe full of ambrosial Turkish offerings alongside traditional cream cakes and comfortingly stodgy pies. On Leith Walk, The Fairtrade Coffee Shop (30-31 Albert Place) is ideal for the conscientious coffee addict who would rather endorse something more worthy than the likes of Starbucks. With fair trade ingredients and superb value (a tailored full breakfast is around £4) as well as super-friendly staff and a cosy relaxed seating area with free internet access, it’s refreshingly fair to its customers, too.


For a slice of traditional Leith, The Carriers Quarters (42 Bernard St) is a tiny pub near The Shore dating back to 1785. Boasting tales of yore, legendary pies and folk music, you’ll find it hard not to fall for this affordable little gem, and resist the urge to overly use the term 'me hearties'. If you prefer your drinking dens with a homespun quality and diversions a world away from the maniacal winking of fruit machines, Sofi’s (65 Henderson St) is a breath of fresh maritime air. Those who enjoy something retro and crafty will be enticed by regular knitting nights, and the bar also runs a weekly classic or indie film night. Victoria (265 Leith Walk) on Leith Walk is sister pub to Sofi’s and houses the same kind of congenial interior, with abundant twinkling lights, scatter cushions and good background music complimenting both a quick coffee throughout the day and a merry candlelit get-together at night.