Edinburgh embraces a Hollywood affair

In the footsteps of this summer's rom-com hit, Matthew Bell finds out if love really is in the air of Scotland's capital city

The novel has been called the literary sensation of the decade, having sold more than a million copies. The film, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, is certain to become a hit when it comes out on Friday. But can David Nicholls' One Day, the love story that everyone is raving about, now stake a claim on the city of Edinburgh? One canny tourist board seems to think so.

Marketing Edinburgh last week launched a literary tour of the Scottish capital, a six-mile walk taking in all the sites mentioned in the book. Never mind that Edinburgh already boasts a dozen festivals, three castles and a literary heritage stretching from Walter Scott to Harry Potter – now tourists can flock to see where Emma and Dexter fall in love. Well, that's what I did.

"Begin in the heart of the Old Town," say the instructions, sending me to the jostling market square of Grassmarket; there a man juggles chainsaws next to an African dance troupe. No mention of this in the novel, but this is festival season.

In case you haven't read it, One Day is about the romance between Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew, who meet as students at Edinburgh University. Their paths cross the day they graduate, 15 July 1988, and the novel traces their lives every year on that date for two decades.

So, to get in the mood, I pop into Armstrongs, the vintage clothing store, where the manager, Jane Barrow, tells me she's doing a booming trade in Eighties clothes. "Wing-sleeve jumpers are the thing," she says, showing me a hideous, baggy, black number with bits of gold appliqué.

On to George IV Bridge, where it's thick with tourists, so I dive into the National Library of Scotland, where Emma might have studied. Dera Bell, 32, has lived here for 10 years, and says Edinburgh is just like Paris – "a good place to forge relationships".

Round the corner is Parliament Square, where Ems and Dex would have attended their graduation ceremony and first clapped eyes on one another. Today, it's throbbing with rucksacked tourists; tour guide Ella Humphreys, 24, rolls a cigarette as she waits for her next group. Has she ever fallen in love in this square? "I've fallen in and out of love a couple of times in Edinburgh," she laughs, "so, yeah, I can see how it might happen."

On Cockburn Street, where several scenes were filmed, I find some actual lovers. Dylan Kitchener, 26, and Joanna Blusiewicz, 30, are sitting arm-in-arm, drinking lager outside The Malt Shovel pub. She is Polish, he Australian, and they have just moved to Edinburgh. But as for finding romance here, they're not convinced. "It's not Paris," they scoff.

There's certainly no Doisneau-style kissing going on in Princes Street Garden, as trains chunter through Waverley station. Maria Thorburn, 46, is sitting on a bench. "At dusk, it's very romantic here," she says, gazing towards the castle's craggy outcrop. And, like in One Day, she has found romance here. "My partner is younger – he's 33," she laughs. "It took me a long time to find love, but I have."

A light drizzle falls as I cross bus-choked Princes Street into New Town, the most intact area of Georgian architecture in the world. Forres Street, just off the magnificent Moray Place, is where Hathaway and Sturgess kiss in the film's poster. Stair-rods of rain are turning the façades a darker shade of slate, and nobody seems to be doing any kissing. I look for a suitable candidate, and find a woman who asks not to be named. We don't kiss, but she says she has often kissed in the street.

Down the hill is Fettes Row, where Dexter lived; three estate agents' boards tantalisingly suggest his flat might be to let. Jill Pollock stops to talk, and soon we are swapping ghost stories. I head up to Calton Hill, the park with superb views and an ideal location for a romantic stroll, but there are few couples here today.

I reach the final stop, Rankeillor Street, where the novel begins, in Emma's single bed. Barry Cormack, 62, has lived here 30 years and is one of the few locals who isn't a student.

"I've seen them all come and go," he sighs. "Ballet dancers, nurses, actors, all traipsing up and down the stairs." But does he know which one was Emma's flat, I ask?

He points to a green door and turns away. I ring the bell. No answer. The shutters are half-closed, and a school desk stands rotting in the courtyard. Upstairs, a supermarket trolley is visible through a window. I ring again and, as I wait, I try to imagine Anne Hathaway living here. Nobody appears. Not today then. But one day.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Mitch Winehouse is releasing a new album

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him

music
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event

film
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash