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I have been to Edinburgh a few times. The festival, shopping, a misguided attempt at joining a hen party. It is one of those cities that has a very distinct feel to it. The sandstone buildings and amazing natural surroundings just make it one of those places you have to visit.
I thought I knew it pretty well, I am always the first to give advice should anyone be unfortunate enough for me to overhear them say they are planning a trip.
The Transpennine Express Behind the Screens Tour proved I maybe do not know it as well as I thought, and I am grateful.
There are so many areas and stories that have just passed me by. This interactive walk showed me there is so much more to this city than I had realised.
Ten locations have been selected across Edinburgh, each with a link to a film or television series. There is something for all tastes here, from novel adaptations and superheroes to Scottish classics and comedy dramas. Everyone will find something to get a selfie in front of.
Stepping off the train the tour starts at Edinburgh Waverley. (Not having the stress of trying to find somewhere to park is a benefit that should not be overlooked)
Straight away the first location is in sight. Scott Monument is an imposing gothic structure. My guide map tells me it was featured in the 2012 fantasy film Cloud Atlas. It is where Ben Whishaw’s character comes to ‘collect his thoughts’, and you can see why. For a few pounds you can climb the 288 steps to the top to get some of the best views of Edinburgh – and get a sneak peek at some of the other destinations on the tour.
The next location can be spied over Princes Street Gardens. It only takes a few minutes and you’re in the location of a very different sort of film. Less ‘collecting thoughts’ more explosions and superpowers. Cockburn Street was used during the filming of Avengers: Infinity War. You can follow in the steps of Scarlet Witch and Vision, so this might be the one to help encourage the younger members of your party to get involved!
The next stops take you to some of the best historical sites and architecture in the city. Heading through the Old Town you’ll visit Parliament Square and Edinburgh Castle. The castle dates back to the 12th century and has hosted many film crews over recent years including Ken Loach’s comedy-drama film The Angels’ Share.
A short, mostly downhill, walk from there and you are in Grassmarket. Featured in Taggart, I would recommend it also features in your lunch plans. There is a long walk ahead.
If you are feeling energetic, Arthur’s Seat is stop number six. The map looks pretty intimidating (the people who put the tour together say you can miss out this step – but you have come this far so…) and it is a long walk. It takes you through parts of Edinburgh you would otherwise miss out on. Residential streets, parkland and then the strange feeling of being in the middle of nowhere with a city just metres away. It is a bit of a climb, I won’t pretend it is not. But it is worth it. The views are amazing and surely climbing Arthur’s Seat should be on everyone’s bucket list.
It is much easier getting down than up, just do not think you are being clever by taking a ‘short cut’. I speak from experience.
Soon you will be back in the city and visiting locations that brought television series Pramface and Oscar winning film Chariots of Fire to life.
Stop ten, the final location, rather aptly takes us into Trainspotting, Danny Boyle’s 1996 film. Under the arch of Regent Bridge was featured in the opening scene, with the tree main characters running through it to get away from a security guard. However tempted you may be to re-enact it, the most you might be able to muster is a slow hobble back to the station which lies on the other side.
The guide says the tour is 8.5 miles and takes about three hours. My step count begs to differ- but it was definitely worth it. To really make the most of it I would recommend making a day of it.
Spend some time in the castle, climb Scott Monument, have lunch in Grassmarket, and take a glass or two of something fizzy to toast your success when you get to Arthur’s Seat… and a few more glasses for when you complete the tour.
That is the joy of taking the train, you do not have to worry about the drive home.
Watch Ross' Behind The Screens Video Tour #TPEBehindTheScreens