OUT­DOORS

The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS -

FLOW­ING for 24 miles from its source in the Pent­land Hills, the Wa­ter of Leith winds its way through Balerno, Cur­rie, Ju­niper Green, Colin­ton, Slate­ford, Rose­burn and Dean Vil­lage into the heart of Ed­in­burgh, be­fore con­tin­u­ing its way through Stock­bridge, Canon­mills and Bon­ning­ton to the Firth of Forth at Leith.

Once Ed­in­burgh’s in­dus­trial heart­land, the val­ley was host to more than 70 mills har­ness­ing the power of the wa­ter to pro­duce pa­per, fab­ric and flour with the river mouth sup­port­ing a vi­brant dock and boat build­ing in­dus­try. Today the river is home to a wide di­ver­sity of plants and an­i­mals from wild gar­lic and or­chids to brown trout, heron, king­fisher and ot­ter, and can be ex­plored on foot or bike along the Wa­ter of Leith Walk­way.

The Wa­ter of Leith Con­ser­va­tion Trust works to con­serve and en­hance the river and its banks and does a fan­tas­tic job. In op­er­a­tion since 1988, the Con­ser­va­tion Trust was the first river char­ity to be es­tab­lished in Scot­land and has de­vel­oped an ex­cel­lent Vis­i­tor Cen­tre at Slate­ford, just be­low the Union Canal.

It’s pos­si­bly best to walk the route with the flow of the wa­ter, that’s from Balerno to Leith and re­mem­ber you don’t have to walk the whole of the route in one out­ing – you can join and leave it at many points up and down the river. You can even link with other paths, cy­cle routes, the canal and a whole net­work of routes in the Pent­land Hills .

If you choose to start in Balerno catch the 44 bus from Ed­in­burgh city cen­tre. The start of the walk is ad­ja­cent to Balerno High School and is well sign­posted.

In terms of un­der­foot con­di­tions the path is gen­er­ally very good with less than a mile on road. It’s also a pretty good sur­face for cy­clists. The route fol­lows the river al­most in its en­tirety and is well clear of traf­fic.

The Wa­ter of Leith path is well signed, but you may find your­self check­ing for signs at a few lo­ca­tions, par­tic­u­larly where the path crosses a road and the con­tin­u­a­tion is not im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent. Hav­ing said that, it’s highly un­likely you’ll get lost.

It al­ways amazes me that in our Scot­tish cities we can boast routes like this – green ar­ter­ies that make their way through the most built-up ar­eas of­fer­ing lo­cal folk a vi­tal lung away from the diesel fumes and busy roads. For vis­i­tors the Wa­ter of Leith not only of­fers a great lin­ear walk but a fas­ci­nat­ing in­sight into the Ed­in­burgh of the past.

The walk from Balerno to Leith is al­most 13 miles long but there is no short­age of at­trac­tions to main­tain in­ter­est

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