Edinburgh and the Lothians Feature
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Leith, Edinburgh's Seaport
Edinburgh's port has a rich history all of its own. While not as rambunctious as it used to be, Leith is still a good bet for an authentically Scottish night out. Ample restaurants and bars make this a good alternative to staying in the center of town.
Just north of the city, Leith sits on the south shore of the Firth of Forth and was a separate town until it merged with the city in 1920. After World War II and up until the 1980s, the declining seaport had a reputation for poverty and crime. In recent years, however, it has been revitalized with the restoration of commercial buildings as well as the construction of new luxury housing, bringing a buzz of trendiness. All of the docks have been redeveloped; the Old East and West docks are now the administrative headquarters of the Scottish Executive.
In earlier times, Leith was the stage for many historic happenings. In 1560 Mary of Guise, the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots, ruled Scotland from Leith; her daughter landed in Leith the following year to embark on her infamous reign. A century later, Cromwell led his troops to Leith to root out Scots royalists. An arch of the Leith Citadel reminds all of the Scots' victory. Leith also prides itself on being a "home of golf" because official rules to the game were devised in 1744, in what is today Links Park. The rolling green mounds here hide the former field and cannon sites of past battles.
It's worth exploring the lowest reaches of the Water of Leith (the river that flows through the town), an area where restaurants, shops, and pubs proliferate. The major attraction for visitors here is the former royal yacht Britannia, moored outside the huge Ocean Terminal shopping mall. Reach Leith by walking down Leith Street and Leith Walk, from the east end of Princes Street (20 to 30 minutes) or take Lothian Bus 22 (Britannia Ocean Drive, Leith).
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