I know it may seem like you’ve stepped back in time walking down just about any street in Edinburgh, but Dean Village has an exceptionally historic, frozen-in-time feel. It may only be a ten-minute walk from the West End of Princes Street, but it feels like you’ve entered into another city, let alone another century.
Like many of Edinburgh’s hidden gems, Dean Village is tucked away, just ever so slightly off the well-trodden path. The first time I tried to find it, I ended up somewhere in Dean Gardens, thanks to an incorrectly placed marker on Google Maps. I wandered around the area thinking I would see a sign to point me in the right direction, but there aren’t really any obvious markers to lead you toward Dean Village. If you’re not exactly sure where to look, it can be a bit tricky to locate.
I find the easiest way to get there is to turn onto Queensferry Street from Princes Street, and then head onto Bell’s Brae. This will lead you down to a bridge over the Water of Leith, and if you continue to walk West along the river, you’ll come to another bridge with the most photographed view of the village.
Historically, Dean Village was a grain-milling hamlet for more than 800 years, with eleven mills powered by the Water of Leith. Today, the mill buildings have been converted mostly into residential flats and offices. Well Court is one of the most notable buildings in the village; it was built in the 1880s and housed local workers. It’s recently been restored and you can rent one of its apartment units if you fancy spending a few nights in Dean Village.
Apart from the historic mill buildings, you can visit Dean Cemetery – which is a 5 minute walk up Dean Path – and you’ll find the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art if you continue to follow the Water of Leith further West.
How to get to Dean Village:
Have you heard of Dean Village?