From the Mound, it is a short, steep hike to the Royal Mile, which runs from the castle down to Holyroodhouse – the baroque palace that still does bed-and-breakfast for the Queen. Daniel Defoe called this medieval boulevard the largest, longest and finest street in the world -and virtually every house along it has a distinguished history. You can spend a day ambling from Castlehill at the top to Canongate at the bottom, but in August you have to run the gauntlet of performers hawking flyers for their shows. Depending on how often you’ve been bombarded by these insatiable self-publicists, they can be endearing or infuriating – but you need to experience the sales pitch at least once to properly savour the Fringe.
At the foot of the Royal Mile is the Flodden Wall, Edinburgh’s ineffective barrier against all manner of invaders, and around the corner is the Pleasance Theatre, one of the liveliest venues at the Fringe. Shows here tend to be more offbeat –
and the cooking is as impressive as the vista. Head chef Tony Singh -has worked on the Royal Scotsman train and the Royal Yacht Britannia (now moored down the road in leith) and his international menu is equally well travelled and eclectic. Thankfully, the prices aren’t as imposing as the views. Dinner about £50 for two without wine
? Fishers 1 The Shore (0131 554 5666) and 58 Thistle Street (0131 225 5109).
There are two branches of this renowned fish restaurant: Fishers Bistro in Leith and Fishers In The City, in the New Town. Both serve fine seafood in informal surroundings. Dinner about £50 for two without wine
? Cafe Royal, 17a/19 West Register Street (0131 556 4124). You can eat or simply drink at this classic seafood restaurant, which doubles as Edinburgh’s loveliest little bar.
For the price of a pint, you can admire the painted Doulton tiles in the palatial Circle Bar or dine in even grander style in the cut-glass Oyster Bar restaurant next door. Film buffs should recognise this listed gin palace from the movie Chariots of Fire. Dinner about £50 for two without wine
? City Cafe, 19 Blair Street (0131 220
0125). Teetering on the edge of Cowgate, where you’ll find the city’s subterranean clubland, this designer bar is a handy rendezvous for a lively after-dinner drink to limber up before something more raucous. The muted furnishing is 1950s Americana with a Scottish spin. Imagine Ed’s Diner redesigned by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.