Neighbourhood Watch: Leith, Edinburgh
A beginner's guide to the capital's port town
What’s it like? It’s Leith. If you’re an Edinburgh List reader, it’s very likely you live there. Glossy bars, Michelin-starred restaurants and warehouse conversions squaring off against cobbles, pint’n’pie pubs and Hibees. Vibrant, community-focused (it has its own radio station and a number of online community newspapers), utterly distinct and still not entirely sure that it’s really part of Edinburgh.
Where’s it, like? Technically, it’s the area around the port at the very north of Edinburgh to the top of Leith Walk, spreading up Easter Road to encompass Hibernian FC and all the way along to the Terence Conran-designed Ocean Terminal.
Am I right in thinking I can take a tram there? Oh, you prankster. Watch your mouth.
Who’s from there? Only the most internationally-famous Edinburghers in the last two decades: Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie (let’s just pretend that the film wasn’t actually shot in Glasgow) and of course, their creator, Irvine Welsh. You can still take Trainspotting tours during the festive months. Other notable Leithers include Eduardo Paolozzi, who created the Hand, Foot and, er, Ankle(?) sculptures at the top of Leith Walk, and The Proclaimers, obv.
Why would I go there? Because just about anyone can have a good night out in Leith: delicate flowers can get their cocktails-in-teacups fix at The Roseleaf, the hippy-to-arts-enthusiast scale is covered by the variety of events and activities at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall, off-beat families and singletons alike can find a home at Sofi’s or Joseph Pearce’s and upmarket foodies have a whole plethora of Michelin-starred establishments to choose from (Plumed Horse, The Kitchin, Restaurant Martin Wishart). Fortunately, you can still access the real Leith at legendary pub the Port O’Leith. Just don’t look at anyone’s pint funny.
Where should I start? We’re big fans of the Edinburgh Murmur, a low-fi audio tour through Leith history, as told by its residents.