Marchmont / Bruntsfield area
If you haven’t been to The Meadows before, your knowledge of Edinburgh clearly extends no further than being aware of that big thing up on that steep thing that everyone photographs. Thankfully, the lovely people who selflessly run this website are on hand to provide the lowdown with the usual dollop of sarcasm and acerbic wit that comes as standard.
If we were pretentious, we would probably observe that The Meadows isn’t a place – it is an event, an ethereal phenomenon, the embodiment of l’esprit d’Auld Reekie that resides in all of us. But in truth, that would be a load of crap – The Meadows is just a big slab of grass that everyone gathers at on sunny days. It is whatever you choose to make it; your football stadium, your sun trap, your smoking spot or your play park. Sunbathers, dog-walkers, sportsmen, rugby players, stoners, voyeurs, goths, geeks and lovers – they all gather in The Meadows, for various reasons. If you like golf, there’s free pitch ‘n’ putt; if you’re a kid, there’s two ace play parks; if you admire lithe student physiques, there’s uni sports day every Wednesday, all in The Meadows.
400 years ago, long before bloggers were in the habit of lazily Googling the back-story to every place they reviewed, The Meadows sited a loch that supplied the town’s drinking water. In the 18th century it was drained and became gentrified, before eventually becoming a public park. In 1875, Hearts and Hibs played their first ever local derby here. In 1939, 500 allotments were created here. And in 2010, 2,000 students got stoned here.
Tourists who really want to know what Edinburgh’s all about are advised to skip the castle, whisky trail and kilt shops and head straight for The Meadows on a sunny day. This place is so idyllic that if the population of Israel and Palestine were to be parachuted in here, there would be an outbreak of nothing more aggressive than sunburn. If The Meadows were a princess, she would be the People’s Princess, but she isn’t and so we’ll just call her the People’s Park instead. Glad we cleared that one up.
Try: Witnessing the city’s firework displays from here, in late August to mark the end of the festival and at Hogmanay.
Avoid: The running battles that sometimes rage between samurai sword-clenching Bruntsfield residents and numchuck-wielding Marchmont residents, incensed at their rivals’ claim to have the higher house prices.
Useless information: In the 1960s, plans to build a flyover trunk road in The Meadows were defeated. History will record the following verdict: Thank **** for that.