This may not be a secret exactly but one of the best things about Edinburgh is Holyrood Park. I still recall the thrill of seeing the elephantine mass of Arthur’s Seat for the first time and the views from the top – the dizzy mix of city, hills and sea. Salisbury Crags, Hunters Bog, the Radical Road… sure, it’s a geological wonder – volcanic rock, glaciers etc – but also a tonic of urban wilderness.
Add our vintage red Routemasters into the scene and you create something extra special. We do this often, heading around the upper road, the Queen’s Drive, for wedding guests, corporate tours and the various one-off arts/music events that we love to get involved in.
We usually come into the park past the parliament and Holyrood Palace, then fork right after St Margaret’s Loch for the short, dramatic, twisty climb. Then it’s along Dunsapie Loch, round to the right and back down. With luck there will be a spectacular panorama. If not, it will at least be atmospheric.
One couple, Dawn and Richard, took their vows on the platform (don’t worry, the bus was stationary) then walked along a red carpet through a throng of guests at Dunsapie. Another stepped off the bus at the Palace car park and led their party up to the ruined St Anthony’s Chapel for another unique ceremony.
Seven or eight years ago our first bus, RM1353, crawled behind the Lady Boys of Bangkok in bright sunshine all the way from the Commonwealth Pool down to the Palace for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Calvacade. We were surrounded by all manner of performers and costumes, and both decks were full of ecstatic children.
You can never take access for granted, though. Icy surface, falling rocks, athletic/charity events – all can block the entrance to the high road. We are grateful to the Holyrood Rangers, part of Historic Scotland, who let us know what’s going on. They also grant us the special permits without which so many of our passengers would never get to enjoy this incredible Edinburgh treat.