With its towering fortress, Medieval and Georgian architecture and maze of ancient streets, Edinburgh is a wonderful city to explore on foot. But away from the centre, there are hidden corners that tourists, and even some residents, never discover. This circular route follows the Water of Leith Walkway through this idyllic valley, before returning along a disused railway now turned into a traffic-free path.
From Canonmills, walk along Brandon Terrace then head down Glenogle Road before turning right through iron gates to go down steps to the Water of Leith Walkway. After 200m, cross a bridge and turn left. Now follow the river for 500m until you reach Arboretum Avenue. Turn left as far as St Bernards Row, then rejoin the walkway for another 300m.
Climb the steps to Deanhaugh Street and turn left to cross the river, then turn right and follow Saunders Street to pass through a stone arch to enter the Dene, the old Scots’ word for gorge.
1. ONE AND A HALF MILES
Pass St Bernard’s Well then enjoy the country-in-the-city feel as you walk through this leafy glen with the buildings of old Edinburgh above you.
Walk under the Dean Bridge – built by Thomas Telford in 1832 – then pass the remains of the 17th-century watermills. Keep on until you join Bell’s Brae. This area is Dean Village. Cross the road and briefly follow Hawthorn Bank Lane before crossing the river on a green metal bridge.
Turn left (by doubling back under the bridge) and pass a weir then, after 400m, walk under the stone Belford Bridge. Soon afterwards, cross the river on a wooden bridge, then
turn right for 500m to reach open ground.
2. TWO AND A HALF MILES
From here it’s a great diversion to cross a footbridge and climb steeply to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Once you’ve had your fill of culture, return to the walkway and walk for 300m to pass under a high bridge.
Immediately after the bridge, turn left and leave the Water of Leith Walkway to climb steep steps to a cycle path. Turn left and cross high above the river. Follow the path for a mile and, where the path splits, keep straight on (ignoring the left fork).
After 100m, turn right to leave the cycle path, following a signpost to Craigleith. At South Groathill Avenue, turn left and after 200m cross the road and turn on to Craigleith Hill Avenue.
3. THREE AND THREE QUARTER MILES
Follow this avenue for 800m, cross Crewe Road South and then keep straight on along Carrington Road. On the right is Edinburgh Castle and the hill known as Arthur’s Seat. On the left are the magnificent buildings of Fettes College, Tony Blair’s old school. At a junction, cross East Fettes Avenue and walk straight through Inverleith Park.
Cross Arboretum Place then enter the West Gate of the
Royal Botanic Garden. Meander through the gardens to reach the
East Gate. Turn right down Inverleith Row to return to Canonmills and the start of the walk.
Good paths throughout, some steep stepped sections. Some walking on quiet roads
HOW TO GET THERE
There’s usually on-street parking somewhere in the Canonmills area – but make sure you obey the rules: Edinburgh parking wardens are notoriously strict.
By public transport:
Regular bus services (23 or 27) from Hanover Street (next to Charlotte Square bus station) to Canonmills run by Lothian Buses.
☎ 0131 554 4494
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Café
75 Belford Road
Edinburgh, EH4 3DR
Hector’s Bar & Bistro
47-49 Deanhaugh Street
☎ 0131 343 1735
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 75 Belford Road, Edinburgh EH4 3DR
☎ 0131 624 6558
Open daily 10am-5pm
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 350.
Grid ref: NT 252 751