Stretching from Balerno to Leith, the Water of Leith Walkway seamlessly transports walkers from the rural fringes of the Pentland Hills Regional Park to the urban buzz of the city centre and the banks of the Firth of Forth. I’d had my eye on walking the full length of the Water of Leith Walkway for a while, so when I had a bit of time on my hands between leaving my job and starting the PGDE I pulled on my walking boots… and the rest, as they say, is history. I should probably note that walking boots aren’t strictly necessary for this route; I just find them more comfortable than trainers for long walks. Here’s a wee photo tour of the Water of Leith Walkway:
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- Getting there | Public transport is by far the easiest option, given this isn’t a circular route. Bus #44 goes to Balerno, and takes c. 30 minutes from Haymarket Station (£1.80 for an adult single, as of August 2021). Alight at Balerno High School; the Water of Leith Walkway starts just to the left-hand side of the school. At the other end, various buses connect Leith to the city centre; I caught the #22 to the Scott Monument (again, £1.80 for an adult single). For timetables (inc. live bus times and a journey planner tool) go to www.lothianbuses.com.
- Maps and guides | The Water of Leith Walkway is well-signposted, so there’s limited need for maps. The Water of Leith Conservation Trust have created a free audio trail (see www.waterofleith.org.uk/audio-trail) which provides more information about points of interest along the route.
- Distance | 20.8km/ miles; 46m of elevation gain.
- Refreshments | There are limited amenities on the first half of the Water of Leith Walkway, so you’d be wise to pack a bottle of water and some snacks. At the halfway point, you’ll find the Visitor Centre, which serves light refreshments, and later you’ll pass through Stockbridge where there are cafés aplenty. You’ll also find lots of watering holes in Leith to round off your walk (and a Sainsbury’s Local if it’s sunny and, like I did, you fancy an ice lolly instead…).
- Misc. | If you don’t fancy walking the whole lot in one go, you’re in luck – you can divide the route into chunks, and Edinburgh’s bus network makes it easy to pick up where you left off. Check the Water of Leith Conservation Trust’s website (www.waterofleith.org.uk) before you set off, just in case any sections of the path are closed for repairs.