Since it ceased to be a church in 1952, the Tron Kirk has only been open to the public sporadically. It’s been an on-and-off tourist information centre and served as a live music venue during the Fringe and Hogmanay. But now it finally has its doors open to the public seven days a week (at least, until the end of July.) And as befits the glorious stained-glass lit interior and the incredible wooden ceiling, the Tron Kirk will be home to the “Victorian-style” Royal Mile Market.
The market is predominantly aimed at tourists. And that’s no surprise – there can’t be many Edinburgh natives who frequent the Royal Mile by choice. Having said that, there’s enough there to keep locals interested. If you’ve never been in the Tron Kirk, take this opportunity to go in and have a look around. The lovely gifts available are a cut above the rest of the Mile too. High quality handmade pens, animal print greetings cards, earrings fashioned from leather; necklaces made of watch parts, topological mugs, records by Scottish bands – all are available from independent, local retailers. Alongside tartan scarves and shawls, of course.
Food-wise, there’s a large Scottish produce section, including a range of deli items. There are chutneys from Trotter’s, bread from Dough Re Mi and oatcakes from Stag, as well as cured meats and smoked salmon, vacuum packed to travel safely. I would highly recommend the fantastic cheeses supplied by dedicated cheese wholesaler Tanny Gill. We had a punchy Isle of Mull cheddar, a creamy brie-style Clava and a gentle Strathdon blue, all of which proved Scottish cheese is often wrongly underrated.
There are also cakes, biscuits and savouries from gluten-free stalwart Love Pure Cakes. You’d be mad to miss out on an opportunity to try their artisan Bakewell. On the same stall, beautifully packaged goods from chocolatiers Coco include their unique and wonderful haggis-spiced chocolate. Then there’s Uncle Roy’s ‘comestible concoctions.’ Made by the man himself in Moffat, they’re a range of flavoured sea salts, sauces, jams and mustards – say hello and ask to sample the horseradish.
However, the market’s secret to success lies not just with the produce, but with the promise of great service compared to other Royal Mile outlets. But the wonderful location and the opportunity to enjoy coffee and cake in a historic setting certainly won’t do any harm. And combining some of the best bits of the Grassmarket and Royal Mile under one roof – both convenient and weatherproof – will help too. Plus there’s the essential tourist information booth, another reason to come inside, and soon a licenced bar and live music in the evenings – a great reason to stay.
So if you see someone dragging a suitcase and clutching a map in the Old Town, give them directions – and suggest they visit the Royal Mile Market. It’s a great introduction to what people want from Edinburgh, all housed in one of our finest buildings. What’s not to like?
The Tron Kirk is located on the High Street, Edinburgh. The market is open 7 days a week.