From the Borders to Cape Wrath via the Water of Leith

In October, the Gore-tex Scottish National Trail was launched by the First Minister at an event at the Water of Leith visitor centre in Edinburgh.  This 470-mile trail runs from Kirk Yetholm in the Borders to Cape Wrath in the far north-west, making use of existing paths and hilltracks and threading them all together to give a trail which enables walkers to travel from one end of Scotland to the other.

It is the brainchild of broadcaster and outdoors writer Cameron McNeish.
The launch took place in Edinburgh because the trail actually runs along part of the Water of Leith Walkway as it passes through the Lothians.  While most of us will never walk the entire end-to-end national trail, we can still be part of this inspirational new route by walking our local section!  The Water of Leith path is already well-known and well-used and yet there are sections which I rarely visit.  Is it time to remind ourselves of the fabulous recreational resource we have on our doorstep?  It meanders through the city’s industrial heritage and is also a valuable green corridor for wildlife, with kingfishers, otters and herons to be spotted.

The path runs for 12 miles from Balerno to Leith docks.  It is ideal for short strolls on winter days when the trees can help to shelter you from a chilly wind, and there are plenty of options to bail out if you need a coffee, or to hop on a bus home if the weans are getting tired!  The route is well-signed and has a good surface, although it can be muddy in places.  Information on the history and wildlife along the river can be found at the visitor centre in Slateford.  Note that currently the Walkway has a few diversions due to tram and flood defence works, but signs show you the diversions.

Here are a few suggestions for shorter walks along the route all starting from Princes Street in Edinburgh city centre.

•       Circuit via the Modern Art Gallery, 4.5 miles.  From the National Gallery, walk down Hanover Street through the New Town and bear right to Canonmills to join the Walkway just after Glenogle Road.  Head upstream through Stockbridge and the Dean Village until you see the sign for the back entrance of the Modern Art Gallery, which has a handy cafe.  From the front of the gallery turn right and take Belford Road along to Queensferry Street.  Turn right again and head to the west end of Princes Street and return to the start.

•       Balerno to Slateford, 4.5 miles.  Take Lothian bus 44 to Balerno.  From Balerno join the walkway at the start, just before the high school, and head back towards town.  For a shorter walk, get off the bus at Currie or Juniper Green to join the path.  Hop back on the same bus at Slateford by the visitor centre to return to Princes Street.

•       Leith to Stockbridge, 3 miles.  Take Lothian bus 22 to Ocean Terminal.  Walk across to the mouth of the Water of Leith and head back into town along the Walkway.  At Stockbridge, bus 29 returns you to the start, or it’s a short walk up the hill.

For more information on the Walkway see:


There’s more information about organised walks here

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