St Giles’ from above
I felt the need for a bit of exploration this afternoon. The sky was bright and blue and there was only a mild nip in the air and I wanted to do something fun outside. And so, I decided to finally take advantage of the guided rooftop tours at St Giles’ Cathedral on the Royal Mile.
I had been to the Cathedral so many times over the years that it seemed like a great new way to enjoy the splendour of the building—and I was right! And as I was the only person on the tour, it was even better.
The tour began with my guide, Stephen, giving me a quick look around the inside of the building. I had been several times before, but it was nice having someone to point out the little things I had never noticed before: Like the tell-tale signs of where the original roof was raised; like the mediaeval stones that dot along the post-Reformation restorations; and like the little details (and errors!) in the stained glass windows.
Once we toured the inside of the building, we began to climb the 91 winding steps to the rooftop. The steps were all varied in height, and at one point there is a lean in the construction (it’s meant to be like that). By the time we reached the roof, I was glad for the rest—and even more glad for the amazing views of the city!
After taking in the views and the crisp air for a bit, I was invited to open the door to the bell tower for the next part of the tour. Once inside, I was excited to see some of the original mediaeval wooden beams—and the beautiful bells. I was also very impressed with the gears and levers that run the bells. And in fact, they will be updating the winding mechanism in the next few days, so I will be one of the last people to see the manual-wind system. Cool!
There were some interesting angel carvings inside of the tower, too. They were part of an older organ and were relegated to the tower when the new organ was installed many years ago. I felt a bit bad for them sitting in the darkened tower, but then I realised that they get to be there with the bells, which must be pretty cool. (Assuming wooden angels can’t hear!)
Anyhow, it was a lovely little trip away from the office and a great way to spend 30 minutes of my afternoon. It’s definitely one I’ll recommend to others—as long as the skies are clear!