Adventure Action Everyday Adventures Scotland

An Edinburgh Scooternany

RSA Edinburgh at Night
Written by Kirstie Pelling

In Search of Spontaneity on an Edinburgh Scooternany

Kirstie Profile SmallWe begin 2014 with an unusual spontaneous travel challenge for a family; an impromptu trip to the aftermath of one of the biggest New Year parties in the world, in Edinburgh. You may know lastminute.com are looking for a Spontaneity Champion for 2014, offering a prize of £50k for the lucky winner. Sadly, we’re not in the running, in fact we didn’t even enter, but the campaign got us wondering whether we can still be spontaneous with three kids in tow. You can’t plan spontaneity, you’ve got to set off, follow your nose and see what unfolds, so when lastminute offered to book us a night in an Edinburgh hotel, we packed our scooters and headed North to see what we could stumble into…

A Spontaneous Travel Edinburgh Scooternany

Everyone else seems to move slower in this bonny two tiered city. Compromised by the cobbles perhaps, sluggish as only winter sales shoppers can be, or bitten by the chill wind of this fresh January day? Tourists plod up The Mound, invited by the bright blue sky and the kilt wearing piper. Meanwhile we flash past in a blur of joy, excitement, feather stuffed jacket and ski sock. “Wheee whheee – you can’t catch me!” we sing to ourselves, one foot barely touching the ground, and the other not at all as we move up towards the castle to discover its history, scenery and wow factor.

Mound Place Edinburgh looking down to Princes Street

I”m not brave enough to scoot downhill on cobbles, but others are… heading down Mound Place to Princes Street

Scooting a Scottish city

We are scooting around Edinburgh. Literally. For exactly twenty four hours. Five microscooters meet one vibrant capital in a spontaneous tartan tour.

As wind blusters down The Royal Mile, it blows a wee breeze up kilts set in military formations outside gift shop windows packed tight with Scottish trinkets. We can’t pause to see what we might find under the pleats. We pass the ‘best haggis in town’ and plenty of whisky shops but we don’t need warming up. The effort we must put into scooting this hilly city keeps our lungs filled with clean air fresh from the Forth and there’s a pink glow in all our cheeks. Down in Princes Gardens the Big Wheel revolves without our company, as we are busy clacking and spinning up and up round cobbled alleyways on teeny, tiny wheels. The mirrors of Camera Obscura stretch and shrink these scratched circles as we make our final ascent into the setting sun.

Scooting on the esplanade at Edinburgh Castle

We scoot into the sunset on the esplanade at Edinburgh Castle

Into the last moments of sunlight

But we can’t bask in this winter sun; the city sheds a few degrees as the pale orb dips behind the turrets. The remaining tourists become instant silhouettes. And we trail long shadowa as we scoot round and round the esplanade in front of the castle. Time for quick tea and scones crammed down in the Deacons House Cafe, a little way down Castle Hill, and then we blast down back into town, overtaking the ghost bus, with its gothic black leather seats and tales of dangers and dungeons.

The day is over, but we’re not yet done. There’s still a bouncy castle to throw ourselves around on, and one of Edinburgh’s iconic cultural attractions is crying out for a night scoot. Matthew ties a black balloon to his microscooter and weaves in and out of the Royal Scottish Academy’s famous pillars; making his own surprisingly sinister portrait for our camera.

We check-in to The Caledonian; an elegant former railway hotel where the old station clock always ticks five minutes fast. We don’t have so much as a toothbrush between us but the staff don’t raise an eyebrow. Scooters are welcome and our car is still in Leith. With our luggage. Scooting is for ultra light travellers. There’s no room for a suitcase on the back.

Scooting down The Mound Edinburgh

Travelling light down The Mound, in search of our place to stay

What was the car doing in Leith?

Why Leith? Well, this day was all about being spontaneous. So we arrived in Edinburgh with no fixed plan.When we woke up, we searched online for the best breakfast in the city and a random Top 10 recommendation took us to the cake stuffed delight of Mimi’s Bakehouse in Leith, a few miles out of the city centre. We asked for more recommendations and Twitter follower Ali Robertson suggested a route into the city following the Water of Leith path.

We wound through the suburbs beside the river, in and out of old railway tunnels decorated with graffiti art, buzzing past Tesco’s and other community hubs, whizzing by a sign for the botanical gardens then up the hill and onto Princes Street. All on microscooters more used to ballet on Morecambe Prom than hills, cobbles and bagpipe dodging. So what does a spontaneous 24 hour scoot around Edinburgh look like? Check out our video and see for yourself.

The search for a spontaneity champion

We don’t often scoot a city, in fact we’ve never done it before. We don’t often turn up at a posh hotel without a car full of stuff, let alone without a toothbrush. But lastminute.com challenged us to have a spontaneous day as part of their lovelivinglastminute campaign, their competition to find a ‘spontaneity champion’ who can inspire others to #bespontaneous.

They’ve already shortlisted ten people willing to travel the world and turn up without toothbrushes for a year, set a spontaneity challenge for them in London and asked them to make a video of their experience. And now they’re looking for you to help them pick the top three to go forward to the final. It’s interesting to see what others get up to when instructed to “be spontaneous”, to see what they get up to, how they report on it and to get some ideas for your own impromptu adventures too.

Spontaneity… for a day, for life or for living?

We loved scooting Edinburgh. We enjoyed not planning it out in advance. In fact we loved it so much we did it all again the next day, winding our way back to Leith through rain soaked streets. We scooted and we scooted and then we stopped. And got into the car. Back to real life.

But I think we took something away with us apart from a stick of Edinburgh rock and five extra minutes from The Caledonian Hotel. I think we took away a challenge to live more in the moment and plan a little less. What do you think? Could you make room for some more spontaneity in your family life?

Edinburgh Castle at Night

The view of Edinburgh Castle from The Caledonian Hotel… a just reward for a hard days spontaneous travel by scooter

Disclosure Note: Thanks to lastminute.com who provided the room at The Caledonian and forced us to #bespontaneous for at least a day. The scooting, experience, ideas and opinions are all, as ever, entirely our own. 

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...

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