The Skinny guide to Stockbridge & Canonmills

Stockbridge and Canonmills bring together huge parks, historic energy, great independent cafes and some cracking pubs

Article by Rosamund West | 17 Aug 2021
  • Stockbridge

If you head north downhill through the New Town, you will eventually come to Stockbridge and Canonmills, residential areas with a bit of a village vibe featuring a startling number of charity shops. Running between them is the Water of Leith, the scenic waterway that flows from its source in the Pentland Hills to the port of Leith via the eponymous bridge. From Stockbridge, follow it past neo-classical folly St Bernard’s Well, through Dean Village to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. From Canonmills, it will take you to Leith, past allotments and through parks, part of the north Edinburgh cycle network following the old train lines. 

To get to Stockbridge from town, take the 8 Lothian bus towards Muirhouse or the 23 or 27 headed to Trinity; from Leith, take the 36 Lothian bus heading to the Gyle.

Go outdoors

Stockbridge is home to Inverleith Park, a vast expanse with a playpark, pond (including a family of swans), tennis courts, rugby pitch, allotments and bowling club. Canonmills is also well served with outdoor space, and features some of Edinburgh’s best small parks. George V Park is self-contained, and has separate playparks for under 5s and older kids, as well as a basketball court and built-in table tennis table.

St Mark’s Park features an Anthony Gormley sculpture in the middle of the river, and a community woods commonly filled with dens left over from local forest school adventures. Follow the path down and you will reach a weir, home to some of the city’s most aggressive ducks.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (Arboretum Pl) is another wonderful green space to explore. It’s a place for scientific study and conservation, but also a free-to-enter garden. There are exhibition spaces, a cafe and a restaurant; the Botanics are also home to some squirrels, and a more pleasant flock of ducks than the St Mark's bunch. 

Drinks

Stockbridge is home to a few top-class traditional pubs. On St Stephen St, The Antiquary (72 St Stephen St), locally referred to as the Tic, is a basement pub of the real ale, Sunday roasts and board games variety. At the end of the street, The Bailie (2 St Stephen St) is an unreconstructed boozer which serves hearty pub food. At the other end, St Vincent (11 St Vincent St) offers a dark and cosy Scottish pub with an extensive menu of burgers, wings and delicious drinks.

If it’s wine bars you’re after, you will find a couple of gems here. Good Brothers Wine Bar (4 Dean St) have a carefully curated list, served with a small plates menu centring local produce. Cheese and wine specialists Smith & Gertrude (26 Hamilton Pl) will provide you with wine flights and paired cheeses, for an exceptionally fancy time.

Round the corner and over the bridge, Hector’s (47-49 Deanhaugh St) offer a contemporary pub environment with a menu of well-made classics. Over the road, The Stockbridge Tap (2-6 Raeburn Pl) similarly offers a refurbed traditional pub with an extensive selection of… taps. Back on St Stephen St, The Last Word Saloon (44 St Stephen St) serves a sophisticated take on classic cocktails in a dark and cosy basement.

Over in Canonmills, One Canonmills is a light and airy corner bar with a focus on craft beer served alongside a street food-inspired menu. Clark’s Bar (142 Dundas St) has a traditional interior with craft beer on tap and a small plates menu.

If you’re looking for coffee, you’ve come to the right place. Body swerve the Caffe Nero and Costa, and head straight for Fortitude (66 Hamilton Pl), Cowan & Sons (33 Raeburn Pl) or Artisan Roast (100a Raeburn Pl). In Canonmills, The Bearded Baker (46 Rodney St) and Hata (5 Rodney St) will both sort you out with coffee and baked goods.

Food

First off, Stockbridge bloody loves a cake shop. The selection at The Pastry Section (86 Raeburn Pl) is incredible, from delicate lemon meringue pies to Persian love cakes, or check out La Barantine (27b Raeburn Pl) for French patisserie and Söderberg (3 Deanhaugh St) for Scandinavian-style pastry. Grams (68 Hamilton Pl) focus on vegan, gluten-free or high-protein bakes, and for a savoury snack check out family-run Italian joint Cafe Gallo (96 Raeburn Pl).

For sit-in, The Pantry (1 NW Circus Pl) has excellent brunch and lunch options, while Nok’s Kitchen (8 Gloucester St) serves up some of the city’s best Thai food. St Stephen St is home to a series of small but perfectly-formed restaurants; Kenji (no. 42) provides fast, reasonably priced Japanese food, local institution Bell’s Diner (no. 7) serves burgers some claim to be the city’s finest, and Kim’s Bulgogi (no. 11) offer quick Korean classics.

Novapizza (42 Howe St) in Canonmills serve up delicious vegan pizza, or it’s meat you’re after The Smiddy BBQ (22 Dunedin St) will provide you with an array of Texas-style barbecue, slow cooked meats and sides.

Indie shops

For all the delicious cheese you could desire, check out I.J. Mellis (6 Bakers Pl) or George Mewes (3 Dean Park St). For drinks, visit Vino (26 NW Circus Pl) or newly opened Winekraft (6 Brandon Ter) in Canonmills. The Beerhive (24 Rodney St) is a much-loved beer and wine shop stocked with interesting local and international cans.

An Independent Zebra (88 Raeburn Pl) sells work by local small design businesses, and Caoba (56 Raeburn Pl) is jam-packed with brightly coloured Mexican homewares. On St Stephen St, Golden Hare (no. 68) is a cosy bookshop with a perfectly selected range, while Ginger and Pickles (no. 51) focus on beautiful children’s books, and Voxbox (no. 21) sell a carefully curated selection of new and used vinyl. In Canonmills, Duncan & Reid Antiques (5 Tanfield) are a treasure trove of curios.

The charity shops have a lot of good stuff, the local residents being relatively affluent. Specialist Oxfam Music and Books shops are particular stand outs, as are the Bethany and Shelter stores. Stockbridge Market (Saunders St) runs every Sunday, featuring a wide range of artisanal foodstuffs and wares.