THERE was an abundance of Saltires, Yes flags, a seller offering bucket hats – and plenty of enthusiasm on display at the independence march and rally in Edinburgh yesterday.

Organisers said it was believed around 25,000 attended the event, which saw campaigners from across the movement gather together to march down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh in the sunshine.

Among those taking part was Julie Dettbarn, from South Ayrshire, who described the atmosphere as “absolutely phenomenal”.

“The turnout is fantastic – I knew it would be,” she said.

“It reminds me of the big marches we had in Edinburgh in 2012 and 2013 which were just such a joyous thing to be part of. It gives everybody a wee bit of a boost, doesn’t it?

“These have been quite challenging times for independence supporters over the last year or two, so it’s great to be able to come back together in this beautiful city, beautiful atmosphere.”

The National: Thousands turned out in Edinburgh for the Believe in Scotland/Yes for EU rallyThousands turned out in Edinburgh for the Believe in Scotland/Yes for EU rally (Image: Colin Mearns)

Rod Cavanagh, from Kirkcaldy, said there had been “enthusiasm, optimism and joy”.

“It has been an opportunity for all that pent-up anticipation for the next independence referendum has been allowed to express itself today,” he said. “It has certainly regenerated the spirit of the Yes campaign as there is everybody here from across the Yes movement.

“It is absolutely uplifting to see so much genuine commitment and enthusiasm.”

Speakers at the event, which was organised by Believe in Scotland and Yes for EU, were chosen to reflect the wider Yes movement, with National columnist Lesley Riddoch opening the speeches.

Alistair Heather and Kelly Given hosted the 90-minute rally, including reading out a series of messages from supporters who could not attend.

Pipe band Saor Alba played a poignant tribute to Yes biker Alexander “Sandy” McCracken, who died in a crash while travelling to take part in All Under One Banner’s march in Skye last month.

The National: Humza Yousaf give a speech at the Believe in Scotland/Yes for EU rallyHumza Yousaf give a speech at the Believe in Scotland/Yes for EU rally (Image: Colin Mearns)

Cheers greeted the arrival of First Minister Humza Yousaf on the stage and he told the crowd that independence supporters were to inspire others to vote Yes – and not just point out the failings of the “miserable” UK Government.

He pointed to a long list of names as a demonstration of Scotland’s contribution past and present to the world – ranging from economist Adam Smith and social justice campaigner Mary Barbour, to tennis player Andy Murray and singer Lewis Capaldi.

“Even our animals are famous, like Dolly the Sheep,” he quipped.

He added: “With an abundance of so much talent, with so much wealth, with so much resource, don’t dare tell me we are too wee or too poor to be an independent nation.”

Yousaf said an independent Scotland will stand up as a “beacon of light of social justice”, have a wellbeing economy and show global leadership on issues such as climate change.

He asked the crowd gathered at Holyrood to imagine the moment in the future when the Scottish Independence Bill to repeal the Act of Union is passed by the Scottish Parliament.

“This journey for Scotland to regain her independence was not started by us,” he said. “We are the latest custodians of that journey, of this cause. It wasn’t started by us – it is a journey that has been going on not for decades, but for centuries.

The National: Plenty of smiles were on display at the Edinburgh rallyPlenty of smiles were on display at the Edinburgh rally (Image: NQ)

“We may not have started the journey, but it is our job for the sake of our children, our grandchildren and those future generations that are yet to be born to get on with it and finish it.”

Lorna Slater, Scottish Greens co-leader, spoke of the progress made since the referendum of 2014 – but warned that as a Scottish Government minister, her work was being hampered “every day” by the current constitutional settlement.

She said: “Here we are now with a pro-independence government, a progressive government, a cooperative government.

“Because we have a vision for building a better future, a fairer and greener Scotland.

“But every day in my work when I say how can we make this fairer, how can we make sure more people get living wages, how can we make sure we do more for the climate, I’m told we can’t do that it is not devolved.

“Over and over again, we can’t do that, it’s not devolved. We don’t have the powers to do that. “That’s before Westminster start pushing back on the powers that this Scottish Parliament has, disrespecting this Scottish Parliament.”

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf hails 'rededication to independence' at Edinburgh rally

Independence Minister Jamie Hepburn also addressed the rally, saying such events mattered as it served to “remind those that need reminding that we are still here, we’re not going away”.

“Let’s take the energy that we feel from today – let’s galvanise ourselves, let’s get out there, let’s take that message out, speak to your friends, your neighbours, your family,” he added.

“Don’t think of people as No voters – they are yet to be convinced. Make the case, persuade them and together we can win.”

There was also an emphasis on the call for an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU.

Claude Detrez, of Europe for Scotland, was greeted with cheers and applause as he told the crowd: “I’m here to tell that Europeans love you, believe in you and want you back.

“Your friends in Europe will be by your side, we will be leading you and we stand with you.”

Gordon MacIntyre Kemp, founder of Believe in Scotland, said an estimated 25,000 people had been on the march.

He told the crowd: “Six months ago, the media and Unionist politicians were saying independence is dead.

“Well, my goodness, you guys have given them a shock today.”