Edinburgh has history and atmosphere that help make it a year-round tourist destination while the festivals in August, festive celebrations in winter, galleries and museums further boost its international profile. Aside from the big ticket attractions there are smaller narratives to be discovered however, many built into the fabric of the Old Town itself. Take this pub for instance.
Once a shop – which explains the distinctly unpubby dimensions of the interior – it has been a bar since at least the 1920s, there has been folk music here since the 1940s and in the 1960s it played a key role in the Scottish folk music revival. There are still sessions every night, and some afternoons, where musicians play together not so much as a public performance but for the sheer hell of it. When you see the accordions, fiddles, flutes and guitars being uncased, you’re looking at the current chapter in a musical tale that dates back more than 70 years.
With beers like Bitter & Twisted from Harviestoun Brewery of Alva, or Ossian from the Inveralmond Brewery in Perth, very simple bar food (pies, soup, toasties) and a thoughtful whisky selection, Sandy Bell’s remains a quietly iconic venue whether you’re a big fan of jigs and reels or not.