A Second Level Old Edinburgh tour in action!

Second Level - Old Edinburgh activity tour

“The Old Town Tour was a brilliant experience for my class. The enthusiasm of Robert our tour guide really captured the children’s attention…I would highly recommend the tour for any class studying the History of Scotland or Edinburgh.”

N. Ritchie - Class Teacher

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Take your class into the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town

£3 per pupil
Adults go free
Maximum of 36 (including adults) in Greyfriars Kirkyard
Meeting place
In front of Greyfriars Kirk
Accessibility info
Gradients and steps
2 hours

Quick description

This second level version of our popular schools’ tour of Edinburgh is a great way to bring your class right into the heart of Edinburgh’s historic Old Town.

Your guided walk isn’t an expository tour, although we promise we will share some of the classic Old Edinburgh tales with your class!  

Your guide comes equipped with an assortment of props and an A3 book packed with supporting images and other materials.    We give you a very ‘visual’ tour.

The pupils will be doing a lot of individual and partner work using various sources of evidence.  We will use old maps, ‘then and now’ images and much more to get your pupils acting as detectives as they explore the Old Town.  Active learning, ‘on location’ is to the fore on this tour, there are no paper and pencils needed on this investigation of Old Edinburgh!

This tour is easily customised to your class and their specific needs and learning questions.  If you provide us with information on things the class wants to see or discover, we can incorporate them on your tour.

A school group in Greyfriars Kirkyard.

Contact us

Click the 'contact us' button to go to our school tour contact page.  We're usually able to reply within 12 hours.   

Gordon of Rothiemay's Birdseye View of Edinburgh's Old Town - 1647.

Meet your teacher-tour guide

Some of the learning questions we can answer on this tour

“How long could people live for in ‘Old Edinburgh’?”

We love covering this on our tour!  Towards the start of our tour, we will look at the gravestone of a  family, giving us a very clear idea about just how long it was possible to live for in the eighteenth century.  We guarantee that your class will be surprised by this!

Greyfriars Kirkyard and the Mackenzie Mausoleum.
“Who are the most famous ‘Old Edinburgh’ people?”

Our tour starts by looking at one of the most famous of all Edinburgh’s characters; the story of the faithful Skye Terrier, Greyfriars Bobby. 
This story is probably the most popular Edinburgh tale.  But stories are not always full of facts.  Robert will explain the different versions of the ‘legend’ of Greyfriars Bobby and let your class work out their own opinions.

Our famous wee Skye Terrier.
“How has the Old Town changed over time?”

There are lots of chances for us to become ‘time travellers’ on this tour!  We’ll stand in a couple of locations and use archive images to show us what these locations looked like hundreds of years ago.  We can even use multiple images to reveal how one area looked at different points in history! 
Your pupils will visit Greyfriars Kirkyard, the Grassmarket, the Lawnmarket, Riddle’s Court, the High Street, Parliament Square (where we get a great view of St Giles) and a typical ‘Old Town’ close on your tour.

The Bowhead House on the Royal Mile.
“How were people punished in ‘Old Edinburgh’?”

Let’s face it, most pupils like a bit of (age-appropriate) gore!  We’ll use this as a learning opportunity a few times on your tour.  Pupils always enjoy figuring out how to use our very own set of ‘thumbscrews’.  
We will visit the site of Edinburgh’s infamous ‘Tolbooth Prison’.  If the area is quiet enough, we’ll even recreate two sides of this long-lost building.

Enjoying the tour!
“What was it like to live in an Old Town close?” 

We’ll use props and ‘then and now’ pictures to let pupils imagine what it was like to live in one of the famous Old Edinburgh closes.
Yes, we DO look at the whole ‘Gardyloo’ story…probably in a lot more detail than you’d expect…  Twenty-years of teaching have taught us what your pupils will want to know!

Exploring an Edinburgh close.
“What were some of the big events in Edinburgh’s history?” 

We can tailor your tour to cover what you want your pupils to know and experience.  We’re more than happy to look at specific Old Town events, but a typical second level tour will mention Mary, Queen of Scots and her return to Edinburgh.  We’ll also look at the hanging of Deacon William Brodie, and we’ll find out about the wedding of King James IV and Margaret Tudor and their link to the Flodden Wall (which we’ll see in Greyfriars Kirkyard).   

Your classes will also learn about the bodysnatchers (with a brief nod to Burke and Hare, the Irish murderers.

Mary Stuart.

Important information for the class teacher

Accessibility is important on all Historic Edinburgh Tours.
Accessibility information

Although pupils won’t be walking for the full two-hour duration of this tour, there are limited places where we can offer rest areas.   We’ve put together a page highlighting some relevant accessibility issues that occur on this tour route.  

We recommend that this tour lasts up to two-hour tours, but we can tailor it to the needs of your class.

We will try to alter the tour if a pupil requires this.  There are limited options for this, however. Sadly, the Old Town is hilly and not brilliantly paved.   All our tour routes cross at pedestrian crossings, and any alternative solutions might include streets that don’t have proper crossing areas.

We’ve put together an accessibility information sheet with some information for your risk assessment print-out. You can access these here.

Image by Abhishek Yadav
Wet weather information

This tour is an ‘outside’ tour, and there are no areas where we can shelter out of the rain.  We do realise that a wet and windy day probably isn’t going make for positive memories!

We’re pretty flexible and will happily reschedule your date.  There’s no extra cost for this.  We realise this is useful if you are travelling on foot or using public transport.  If you have organised transport, then please know that, whatever the weather, we will be there for you!

If you’d like to reschedule your tour, please let us know by 8.30 am on the morning of your tour.  My mobile number is 07590 026 077.

Risk assessment on our tours.
Risk assessment

Risk assessment is something which your governing body will legally need you to carry out and, as such, we can only offer some suggestions and recommendations for your paperwork.

While we can’t offer these as your official risk assessment, please click here to download our suggested risk assessment information and our route instructions.

We’ve put together an accessibility information sheet with some information for your risk assessment print-out. You can access these here.

Access to toilets.
Toilets (and how to add even more value to your school tour!)

We’ve got no ‘toilet’ stops on our tour, but you are welcome to ask the Museum of Scotland if you can use theirs. Most of our schools’ tours of Edinburgh start just across the road from there. You may also want to book a teacher-led guided tour/exploration of the Museum of Scotland. This is free, but you will need to book in advance.  Their offers/accessibility might change due to COVID.   The Museum of Scotland also offers a series of paid workshops. Booking either of these options will allow you to ask for the use of their lunchroom. 


We also recommend checking out the educational workshops at Riddle’s Court and Edinburgh Castle. These come with a cost. A lunchroom is sometimes available.

We are happy to discuss tailoring our tour start/finish times and locations around any other activities you may be doing.  

Contact us

Click the 'contact us' button to go to our school tour contact page.  We're usually able to reply within 12 hours.   

A detailed itinerary

We understand that you might want even more information about this Edinburgh walking tour.  Some people like lots of detail, we've got that for you!

Please click the 'Learn more' button to see a detailed itinerary for this tour.