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.

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
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.

    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness