Shall we open this post with a random fact?
Leith is now classed as part of the city of Edinburgh, but until the 1920’s it was considered a place in its own right.
Today, you couldn’t fit a sheet of paper between the old city of Edinburgh and the point where Leith begins, but the old port city still has it’s own distinct character. It’s a place worth exploring, and not just as an extension of the Scottish capital.
Leith is Edinburgh’s waterfront district, spreading out from the historic harbour. Having served as the Port of Edinburgh for hundreds of years, the area has a strong maritime history. Relics of the neighbourhoods sea faring past can be found on a stroll round the area, including the Scottish Memorial to the Merchant Navy and the Harpoon Gun.
Viewed through modern eyes, the Harpoon Gun seems a bit sinister and barbaric, but the whaling industry was big business for Leith and a valuable source of employment, until the era of whaling ended – at least in this part of the world- in the 1960’s.
Leith might have had it’s glory days as a port but the character of old Leith has been well preserved. Lots of new enterprises and a younger crowd have moved into the area, but the historic buildings and local heritage has not been sacrificed to regeneration.
Some of the older buildings wouldn’t look out of place in a historic European city like Bruges or Hamburg. Actually, I spent some time there last year and parts of Leith did put me in mind of parts of Hamburg…albeit a much smaller, more chilled out version with less rough edges. But that same feel is there.
Be it Leith or Hamburg, our days out follow a fairly predictable pattern. First we explore, then we eat and drink. It’s a nice way of doing things, but it’s a little harder to pull off now that we travel with a big dog. Lots of places claim to be ‘dog friendly’ but really mean they’ll let you sit outside with the smokers and will bring a dish of water for the dog if you ask nicely. Not so at Woodland Creatures. The very friendly and bubbly staff made a huge fuss of the dog and he was served dog biscuits and fresh water at the same time as our drinks were delivered to the table. Now that’s dog friendly!
Located on Leith Walk, Woodland Creatures is a gastropub that makes everyone in the party welcome. The adults, the kids, the dogs…the family on the table next to us had even brought along their cat.
The welcome at Woodland Creatures is as warm and cosy as the very Instagram-able interior. Think warm blue walls, macramé and lots of fairy lights. Seating at different levels plus some very quirky cinema style seating makes the place feel social, but not over crowded, even on a busy Sunday afternoon.
The wood clad exterior of Woodland Creatures doesn’t give much away about the lovely interior, but this is a Russian Doll of a place, and it does have another little trick up its sleeve. To the rear of the bar you’ll spot a wardrobe, slightly vintage looking but fairly non descript. A place to hang your coat? Storage for bar supplies? No and no. This is Leith’s version of Narnia.
The wardrobe doors open to reveal a small passageway that takes you out to a small but beautiful garden area. It’s an overused phrase, but this is literally a hidden gem.
I can’t guarantee that you’ll get sunshine on Leith- this is Scotland, after all. But I can guarantee that its worth a visit, whatever the weather. If all else fails and the weather really doesn’t play the game, go and have a coffee or cocktail at Woodland Creatures and wait it out. Warm welcome guaranteed, whatever the weather.
Find Woodland Creatures at 260-262 Leith Walk.