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Britannia-Edinburgh and the Tattoo

The Royal Yacht Britannia

Edinburgh is the ideal place to take a city break, especially during the Edinburgh Festival when the Tattoo is in full swing. Travelling from the South Coast of England creates a dilemma, drive, train or fly. Eventually, fly won the lottery. It is one hell of a drive especially if you are time-limited for the journey. Considering the train, this worked out more expensive than flying and would have taken about 6 hours, compared to flying which from nearby Gatwick airport lands you in Edinburgh in just over an hour. Flying on the early morning flight we were in Edinburgh in time for breakfast.

Edinburgh trams transported its first passengers in 2014, running from the Airport to the city centre. The track was extended from the city centre to Newhaven on the Firth of Forth in june this year, just in time for our visit in August. What a great asset this proved to be.

Boarding the tram at the Airport we jumped ship at the “Foot of the Walk”, Leigh walk is the main throughfare from the city centre to Leigh where the Royal yacht Britannia is berthed.Five minutes’ walk from the tram and we arrive at our home for the next couple of nights.

A word or warning here, accommodation during the festival is very full and demands a premium price. We booked Ocean Mist a year in advance as we booked tickets for the Tattoo.


Built in 1919 Ocean Mist has had a rich and extraordinary history from a minesweeper to a Gentleman’s yacht. In the early 1980’s the boat arrived at the Shore in Leith, she existed in various guises as restaurants and nightclubs before being left to fall into disrepair. In 2018 she was purchased by her present owner and converted into a boutique hotel with 17 cabins.

We arrived very early on the gangway of Ocean Mist; this was not a problem as the first mate kindly took in our luggage as we went to explore the delight of Edinburgh. If you buy a four-day pass on the tram, not only do you get a return trip to the airport, but unlimited use in the city area. Edinburgh is not a city for the faint hearted, it can be a hell of a slog walking around, especially the steep hike up to the castle and the Royal Mile, and yes during the festival the city is packed and navigating the crowds can be a problem

Ocean Mist is only a few hundred yards from the Michelin-starred restaurant “The Kitchin” owned by Tom Kitchin. Once again it is advisable to book restaurants during the festival but we found to our peril as we ended up in an average pub restaurant having discovered that the nicer restaurants were all booked up.

Day two in Edinburgh, tonight was our night at the Tattoo. After breakfast we set of to walk The Water of Leith walkway to the Botanical Gardens, which are fabulous, we then headed to Newhaven for lunch where we had researched a small restaurant “Porto and Fi” which turned out to be spot on.

Newhaven is a fishing port. Visiting cruise ships unable to enter Leith locks, anchor off and tender passengers ashore in Newhaven, a short walk from here you can catch the tram that whisks you off into the centre of Edinburgh.

After a couple of hours to rest our “lallies” we headed back into the city to once again climb the hill to the castle for the evening performance of the Tattoo, you have to be pretty fit as the long climb does not finish at the entrance, you then have to climb the terraces to your seat.

As the sun starts to set the countdown to “Stories” begins. I am not going to describe it further as you can see for yourself in the “Salty Seadog” video below.

A trip to Edinburgh would not be complete without a trip to the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith, once again a short walk from our digs on “Ocean Mist” A visit offers a fascinating and immersive experience into the maritime history and royal life.

For years l has wanted to visit Britannia. A friend was a pastry chef on her in the ’70s and had one or two tales to tell.

Britannia served the Queen and Royal family for just over forty years. Stepping onboard you immediately realise why the Queen loved her so much and found her very relaxing. She has a very country house feel to her and by today's standards she is a little spartan in places, but l guess when she was built in 1954, she was the height of luxury with state-of-the-art equipment. By the same token, I cannot really see that Princess Diana would have relished her honeymoon on her, for the first time a double bed was installed onboard in the honeymoon suite.

Britannia is so distinctive that no name is visible on her hull. The royal coat of arms flying on the bow side and the royal cipher on her stern were deemed sufficient.

Seaman onboard did not wear their caps at sea, which means the seamen are technically out of uniform and not required to salute, enabling the Queen to walk around the vessel without formal recognition. They were also trained to execute orders on the upper deck, where the Queen's private quarters are situated, without spoken words or commands.

Crew cabin aboard Royal Yacht Britannia

Meanwhile, below decks, accommodation was a little like crew accommodation on the ocean-going liners of the era, six, eight berth and even more to a cabin with ablutions and showers in a communal area at the end of the alleyway. With up to 240 crew onboard this led to little privacy below decks.

Enjoy a visit to The Royal Yacht Britannia in this "Salty Seadog" video

As well as being designed as a Royal Yacht, Britannia was also designed to act as a hospital ship in the event of war. As you walk around the ship it becomes obvious by the facilities in the hospital and also the oversized ship's laundry that she has a dual purpose.

A Very Sad Day

Britannia carried the Royal family on 968 official voyages. Britannia is said to have traveled over one million miles around the world. What a sad day for Queen Elizabeth on the day she was decommissioned.

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2 תגובות

Tim Dick
Tim Dick
02 באוק׳ 2023

Absolutely brilliant. Oddly I was thinking to do a trip to Britannia while staying aboard Ocean Mist. I did not think of doing the Tattoo too!

Salty Seadog
Salty Seadog
02 באוק׳ 2023
בתשובה לפוסט של

Hi Tim

If you are considering staying on Ocean Mist, reserve a cabin mid-ship, we had a cabin in forward bow and it was not the easiest cabin to negotiate. The deck sloped a lot and the bathroom was not easy to use. Very tight trying to get into the starboard side of the bed. Otherwise a great place to stay.

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