When Edinburgh is as busy as it is during the month of August, it can be pretty hard to imagine that there are any tranquil pockets left in town. Thankfully, you can normally find a peaceful oasis just a few minutes walk from the city centre. Case in point: Dean Village.
I was jogging around this beautiful part of town earlier this summer when I clocked a paper sign advertising a Dean Village Tour, run by the Dean Village association, for only £3 a head. I very rarely turn down a bargain like that, so a couple of days later I dragged Mr Bug along to try it out.
The tour was conducted by the Dean Village Association’s Secretary and all profits from the tour went back into the association. I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout, including us there were at least 20 people who came along, consisting of a good mix of visitors and curious locals.
Our journey began at the top of Bells Brae on Dean Bridge. Here you can find Kirkbrae House, a fairly unassuming structure when you look up at it from the bridge (see picture above). However, if you peer over the edge and look down you’ll find that this wonderful structure plunges down some eight to ten storeys to the the river bank.
This house was the result of a wealthy and eccentric cab driver who added bits and pieces to the house as his business empire grew. You can read all about it in this article from the Telegraph (although please note that it is a couple of years old – so I don’t think the house is on the market any more!).
From Kirkbrae House we walked down Bell’s Brae towards Dean Path and the first scenic view over the Water of Leith. The guide told us that Dean Village was historically a centre for the milling industry, and if you look closely enough you can see remnants of this scattered all over the village, from old mill stones to carved plaques with featuring grain and baked bread.
On this corner of Bell’s Brae and Dean Path we spotted Bell’s Brae House (pictured above). Built in the 16th century, it’s one of the oldest houses in the village. Originally a miller’s house, it now functions as a bed and breakfast, which I can only imagine is very popular indeed given the stunning location!
Across the bridge we explored Well Court, probably the most striking part about Dean Village. It was built in the 1880s as model housing for workers, but has recently been restored by Edinburgh World Heritage.
The clock tower, which looms over Well Court, is connected to the beautiful former community hall. If you make your way around to the footpath crossing the Water of Leith once again, you’ll see the other side of this gorgeous building hovering over the river bank.
On this footbridge you’ll find one of the most captured views in Dean Village. Trust me – follow any Edinburgh based Instagram account for more than five minutes (including mine!) and you’ll notice this vista on your feed. There’s just something about the bubbling water, the lush green riverbank and the beautiful mustard coloured houses that makes this view so damn photogenic.
But don’t let that put you off exploring other nooks and crannies of Dean Village, with a charming shot to be found around every turn it is a good idea to spend a wee while finding your own way around this charming pocket of Edinburgh.
I would heartily recommend the tour. At only £3 each it was an absolute bargain and offers a little added insight not usually found by those who are simply wandering through.
The Dean Village tour lasted around 2 hours and cost £3 per person. They are conducted on quite a sporadic basis, so it’s probably best to check the Dean Village Association website to find out when the next tour is planned.