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
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall is set to dance with Ola Jordan on Strictly Come Dancing. 'I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' meaning 'even you'!' he said.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sting and Paul Simon on stage together at Carnegie Hall in New York

music
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Strictly Come Dancing 2014 contestants and their professional dance partners open the twelfth run of the celebrity ballroom contest

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin teaches Clara to shoot an arrow
doctor who
Arts and Entertainment
Queen Christina left the judges baffled with her audition
X Factor
Arts and Entertainment
The Vienna State Opera
opera
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'
musicLilly Wood and Robin Schulz bag number one single
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.

    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
    The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

    The fall of Rome?

    Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
    Glasgow girl made good

    Glasgow girl made good

    Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
    Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

    Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

    Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
    Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

    Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

    Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
    The landscape of my imagination

    The landscape of my imagination

    Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories