The Edinburgh August Walking Challenge

I originally posted this a few years ago on a different site. The workshops during the festival period have been really busy and it is a challenge getting around the city with so many people visiting. Here is a tongue-in-cheek guide to the way that tourists block the streets of Edinburgh to prevent us getting around. In my research I have identified the top 11 (top 10’s are so passee) tactics that I have seen working well. Feel free to let me know if I have missed any and I’ll add to the list.

1. The Walk Apart

This is the simplest of the tactics and involves the tourists walking side by side. There are two key elements to the walk though, the first is velocity which will be at dawdling pace and the second is spacing – it is key that the distance apart is just insufficient to allow the local to cut between the two tourists and also sufficient to ensure that the gap between roads and buildings doesn’t allow a sidewards overtaking manoeuvre.

Fig 1. The Walk Apart

2. The Chicane

This is a variation of The Walk Apart and is again a dawdling paced tactic. Here the tourists not only create a gap that is impossible to cut between, they also create an added dimension of one walking slightly ahead of the other, making the overtake much more difficult.

Fig 2. The Chicane

3. The Diamond

We are now getting into much more complicated patterns and using larger groups of tourists. I have noted that this one is particularly popular with the latin tourists (possibly due to the size of families) and is a combination of The Walk Apart and The Chicane. The tourists create a diamond shape which contains all the blocking difficulties of the first two tactics and brings them together into one of the hardest formations to beat.

Fig. 3 The Diamond

4. The ‘Look, Edinburgh has a Castle’

This tends to be a Princes Street tactic, and is most successfully deployed by the asian tourist. They lure the unwitting local into thinking that the tourist is ‘one of us’ by walking at a good pace – this is the case until they spring the surprise manoeuvre of stopping instantly to stand and stare at the Castle that suddenly appears from nowhere. The effect is almost impossible for the local to avoid.

Fig. 4 The ‘Look, Edinburgh has a Castle’

5. The Crab

A variant of The Walk Apart which requires the tourists to walk in the same slow pace, however, as the local approaches for the attempted overtake, the tourists start to veer toward the road forcing the local to either slow down or move into the road and face the wrath of the Lothian Transport driver.

Fig 5 The Crab

6. The 90 Degree

This isn’t too dissimilar to The ‘Look, it’s Edinburgh Castle’ but can take place on any street that contains the tourist tat shops. As the tourist is drawn to the shiny things (or more likely tartan and ginger things) in the shop window they create a much larger obstacle as they stop and turn. The key element here is that one of the tourists will stand in the middle of the pavement whilst the other one stares.

Fig 6 The 90 Degree

7. The Umbrella

Really only used during the Fringe period when the annual monsoon season arrives. Here the cunning tourist uses the umbrella as a weapon to prevent any local brave enough to attempt to overtake The Walk Apart. There are, of course, many variants of this tactic as it can be used with any of the other manoeuvres.

Fig 7 The Umbrella

8. The Child

Here the weapon of choice is a small child. The tourists look to have created The Walk Apart poorly and have left a gap large enough for the local make the cut-through overtake. However, at the last minute this is blighted by the appearance of the small child who will invariably undertake their own Look, Edinburgh has a castle and stop sufficiently quickly to allow the tourist to plough into the child who is able to deploy the head to the groin.

Fig 8. The Child

9. The Suitcase

This tactic tends to be deployed close to Waverley Station and requires the tourists to find the busiest time of the day and drag an over-sized suitcase through the streets. It is always good for the tourist to deploy this in conjunction with The Crab. This is another manoeuvre which can result in physical injury to the local and is therefore highly popular with the tourists.

Fig 9 The Suitcase

10. The Street Performer

The next two tactics are generally deployed on High Street (or Royal Mile as the tourists prefer to incorrectly call it) and are aided and abetted by performers. The first is the large crowd that will gather around yet another person creating a tight-rope by two of said tourists and then walking across it whilst juggling sharpened knives or fire. The tourists gather in droves to ensure that there is no way for the local who has to walk along High Street to perhaps collect a parking permit from the council offices (no local would choose to walk along High Street in August).

Fig 10 The Street Performer

11. The Drama Student

Again a High Street tactic, this time involving a second year drama student who believes that the most innovative way to hand out flyers is to lie in the middle of the street or stand on a bollard, after all, nobody has ever thought of that before.. The tourist will interact with this display and cause an impossible blockage for the council office attending local to pass.

Fig 11 The Drama Student

I am sure that now the tactics of the tourists have been revealed that there will be some new ones that will appear. I urge any resident of Edinburgh who identifies either a way to combat the above tactics or identifies new ones to be deployed so that I can provide a public service to the locals of Edinburgh.