‘Sound Walk’ series on its way to Edinburgh’s West End

Edinburgh's West End BID has commissioned a series of audio soundscapes to bring the area to life. Picture: Chris Watt
Edinburgh's West End BID has commissioned a series of audio soundscapes to bring the area to life. Picture: Chris Watt
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VISITORS to the Capital will be transported back in time through the power of sound as part of a fresh effort to encourage more people to explore the West End.

The new series of West End “Sound Walks” are set to launch next week and will guide listeners on a journey of discovery through the area, with the help of sounds and narratives.

Commissioned by the West End BID, the project was brought to life by four MSc sound design students from Edinburgh College of Art who worked with local businesses and venues to create three unique sound trails.

The three walks include a historical tour of the West End’s Georgian architecture, a journey through its eclectic range of businesses and a mystery tour inspired by Edinburgh-born Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes.

West End BID chairman Gail Niven said she hoped the project would bring more people into the area to enjoy everything it has to offer.

She said: “The West End has always been Edinburgh’s hidden gem, often playing second fiddle to the shops of Princes Street and medieval Old Town, for locals and visitors alike.

“During the tram works visitor numbers went into decline. We now want to remind everyone that we are still here, very much open for business and better than ever.

“We have just completed a major clean-up of the area, investing a number of resources in making the streets more attractive and now we are delighted to launch the West End Sound Walks giving everyone a chance to discover the unique character, and characters, of the West End for themselves, for free.

“We hope it will encourage Edinburgh locals to explore the area and will give tourists another reason to visit and discover a bit more about it.”

The tours, which include interviews with local business owners, have been designed so that they can be enjoyed by both individuals and groups as they explore the area.

They were devised by MSc students Ana Betancourt, Gabrielle Haley, Adrian Barahona Rios and Sabrina Rodgers.

Martin Parker, programme director for Edinburgh College of Art’s sound design course, said his students had really enjoyed getting stuck in with the project.

He added: “That part of the city is rich in history – it’s got lots of character which is easily overlooked because there are so many other things elsewhere to draw the eye. [It] is certainly a way of pulling people in.”

Sarah Connelly, owner of Odyssey Boutique on William Street, said she was pleased to see the West End being championed.

She said: “It’s a really nice antidote to the business of the city centre – you could easily lose yourself in the shops and cafes here. Doing something that engages people in a different way is a great opportunity.

“Parts of the recordings are shop owners and people who live in the buildings so you are hearing from the real insiders not just the tourists’ guidebook.”

The tours, which launch on August 5, will be available to download for free from the West End BID website.