Scoots - The Sheep Heid

Scoots - The Sheep Heid

Feature by RJ Thomson | 12 Nov 2006

This is the first of a series of features in which, in short, we tell you where to go. It was going to be called 'Missions', but, tired of outdated drug-culture slang, we opted for something more informal. A 'Scoot' is a venture, possibly an adventure, that you can embark on around Edinburgh and Glasgow. We're not talking about holidays, or your local nightclub, but city-centric journeys we think you'll like. From little secrets to places of interest, let the Skinny be your guide, and get out and Scoot.

Our first destination is the Sheep Heid in Duddingston, Edinburgh: a fine country pub within a scenic walk's distance from the middle of town.

We start our Scoot at the foot of the Royal Mile, by the Palace and Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. Head towards the looming form of Salisbury Crags (as indicated by our faultless map), and bear left into the gap behind the crags. Cutting a clear diagonal above is a second line of crags, a kind of geological echo of Salisbury Crags fused into the bulk of the main volcanic plug of Arthur's Seat; follow a clear path below these seemingly impassable rocks until it turns into a rough stone stair that winds over the crest. From here great feudal views expand Eastwards to North Berwick as well as back over the city. The sense of 'crossing' offered by this walk is one of its best features; that, and the appetite it builds up for the pub.

As you come down into Duddingston there is an easily spotted lantern-lit alley; found at the far end, the Sheep Heid is the oldest running pub in Scotland, dating from 1360. Until recently it had what might politely be called a 'deeply rooted' clientele, and was not exactly friendly towards unexpected visitors. But in the past couple of years successful efforts have been put into making the Sheep Heid an inviting destination. The food, a hearty mix of Scottish and other traditional recipes, has some impressive combinations thrown in – including an excellent starter of Black Pudding Topped with Goat's Cheese. Other choices, like venison bangers and mash, or lean meatballs in tomato sauce, are just the thing for filling up after a bit of exercise. On top of this they have a Victorian skittle alley (booking recommended) at which to test your aim and arm.

The bus back into town first heads out to Craigmillar on one of the more unusual routes in the city, and ought to land you back into town with time to reflect on a meal well earned.