The hustle and bustle of the Royal Mile recedes, and you are lost in a realm of peace. A few cooing pigeons accompany you along the way, and you may get a nod from a passing Scottish stranger. Sometimes, as you explore these lanes and passages, you will see a tourist pop their head in, looking apprehensive. They take a few steps forward, then blanch and turn back.
However, if you were to take those next few steps, what you would find might surprise you... The closes, courtyards, and narrow wynds lead the unsuspecting traveler into new arenas - those hidden aspects of Edinburgh that exist only behind tenement walls - houses so close you could not swing a cat between them.
The trick, you see, is to go unheeding into the dark passages. That way, you will step beyond the norms of the street, and into a warren of adventures.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Each close and wynd has a story to tell.
The closes, well, they are often characterised by dark passageways, opening onto a courtyard, fountain, or even, in the case of Dunbar's Close, a secluded garden filled with small stone benches; just perfect for whiling away the time.
The wynds are more of a thoroughfare, a kind of hidden passage, if you will. They provide the locals with a shortcut to their destination, and the foreign explorer with a chance to get a little lost. The Old Town is simply riddled with them
As for the stories that lurk behind those dim doorways, the clue is often in the name... Such wonderful names too: Lady Stair's Close, Old Distillery Close, Castle Wynd, and World's End Close.