The Royal Mile: How long is Edinburgh’s High Street?

The heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, the Royal Mile stretches between the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Edinburgh Castle - but is it really a mile long?

Arguably the most famous thoroughfare in Scotland’s capital city, the Royal Mile is actually a succession of different streets. It first gained its nickname in 1901, thanks to W M Gilbert's book, Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century.

Historically, there has been some debate about the real length of Edinburgh's Royal Mile (Photo: Shutterstock)

Historically, there has been some debate about the real length of Edinburgh's Royal Mile (Photo: Shutterstock)

The individual streets that make up the Royal Mile (going from west to east) are Castlehill, the Lawnmarket, the High Street, the Canongate and Abbey Strand.

The Royal Mile is sometimes also known as Edinburgh’s High Street.

How long is the Royal Mile?

The Royal Mile is almost exactly one mile (just over 1.6km) long. It takes roughly 25 minutes to walk from one end of it to the other.

What is a Scots mile?

It is a common misconception that the Royal Mile is actually one Scots mile long - the equivalent of about 1.11 modern miles.

A Scots mile was longer than an English mile, but varied in length from place to place.

The measurement was legally abolished three times - first by a 1685 act of the Scottish Parliament, again by the 1707 Treaty of Union with England, and, finally, by the Weights and Measures Act 1824.

Although regularly used throughout the 18th century, the Scots mile had become obsolete by the time of its final abolition.