Queen Victoria visits Leith

Painting of old buildings

From Leaves from the Journal of our Lives in the Highlands, 1848-61, Edinburgh, 1868

Saturday 3rd September.
The view of Edinburgh from the road before you enter Leith is quite enchanting; it is, as Albert said, ‘fairy-like’, and what you would only imagine as a thing to dream of, or to see in a picture. There was that beautiful large town, all of stone (no mingled colours of brick to mar it), with the bold Castle on one side, and the Calton Hill on the other, with those high sharp hills of Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags towering above all, and making the finest, boldest background imaginable. Albert said he felt sure the Acropolis could not be finer; and I hear they sometimes call Edinburgh ‘the modern Athens’. The Archers Guard met us again at Leith, which is not a pretty town.

The people were most enthusiastic, and the crowd very great. The Porters all mounted, with curious Scotch caps, and their horses decorated with flowers, had a very singular effect; but the fishwomen are the most striking-looking people, and are generally young and pretty women – very clean and very Dutch-looking, with their white caps and bright-coloured petticoats. They never marry out of their class.

At six we returned well tired.

Illustration: White Horse Close, Edinburgh, 1845 by Horatio McCulloch. Public Domain.