Discover the Water of Leith Walkway, Edinburgh

Described as “a silver thread in a ribbon of green” the Water of Leith Walkway runs alongside this small river for 12 miles as it flows through Edinburgh from Balerno to enter the Forth Estuary at Leith. It is remarkable that within a couple of minutes you can leave the hustle and bustle of the city and be in a quiet, green oasis. The walkway is pretty level, so a fairly easy walk but it can be muddy in some sections after rain. It’s well signposted as sometimes there are slight detours and diversions from the riverside.

The Water of Leith near Canonmills

I still haven’t managed to walk its entire length but you can easily do short sections of the walk. You can take a bus to one section of the walk and pick up another bus after you’ve walked as much as you want. The walkway takes you close to the Gallery of Modern Art and the Botanic Gardens, although it is a short uphill walk. There are public toilets at Stockbridge and Canon Mills in the city centre as well as several cafes and restaurants.

The river flows into the Forth estuary in Leith, Edinburgh’s port. You can see illustrations of Leith in it’s heyday at the side of the walkway. The area has been regenerated recently with blocks of luxury flats sprouting up. Ocean Terminal houses shops, a cinema and various cafes and restaurants.

Street art at the Walkway in Leith

It’s very interesting at the Slateford section as the Union canal flows in a 500 foot high, eight arched viaduct as it crosses the Water of Leith. There’s a Visitors Centre here with a cafe and information and displays about the Water of Leith. The Visitor Centre has leaflets of the “Slateford Saunter”, a short circular walk where you cross the viaduct, walk to Colinton Dell and then along the Water Of Leith. I did the saunter and enjoyed it, again amazed that I felt I was in the countryside although I was in a city.

The Union Canal at Slateford

Edinburgh is a truly beautiful city with a lot more to offer than just the castle and the Festival. Here are some other ideas for getting off the beaten track in Edinburgh.

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