Musselburgh Circuit

There are lots of reasons to go for a walk round what I call the Musselburgh Circuit. Ordnance Survey sheet 66 will help you keep your bearings.

As the year draws to its end, it sometimes can feel as if you never see any sunshine for days on end.  A run of dreich, murky weather can keep you stuck indoors, with no temptation at all to get outside.  So when the sun does shine it’s time to drop everything, get outdoors, and enjoy the light levels and fresh air.  Normally, walks along the coast are a great option on sunny winter days, with the endless sandy beaches along the East Lothian coast being a favourite place to head for.  The skies are big here, with expansive views over the Firth of Forth and across to Fife, and Arthur’s Seat and the Pentlands silhouetted behind.  But if you’re on the coast you do tend to catch any wind that’s going – and there can be a biting wind coming off the North Sea at times, making a walk hard work! 

This route around Musselburgh is a circular walk which includes a good blow along the shore, but mainly keeps you a little bit more sheltered, as you explore the greenspaces around the town.  You will make use of the River Esk Way, the John Muir Way and the National Cycle Network, as well as passing through the National Trust for Scotland’s property at Newhailes.  Just 5 miles east of Edinburgh, Musselburgh is a great wee town for a variety of good walks with interesting historic architecture and opportunities to pop into cafes to warm up!  The route is described from the station which is on the Edinburgh to North Berwick line with a half-hourly service Monday to Saturday, and hourly trains on Sundays.  There are plenty of buses from Edinburgh too.

Circular walk from Musselburgh Station, 7 miles
From the bridge over the railway line, head towards the sea and follow signs for National Cycle Route 1 to Whitecraig.  The route soon turns right through houses until finally reaching a bridge over the River Esk.  Here turn left and follow the River Esk Way as it winds downstream towards Musselburgh.  Keep following this bank of the river right to the mouth of the Esk (with a short diversion along High Street if you need a coffee break!).

Looking to Edinburgh from MusselburghAs you reach the estuary, you pick up National Cycle Route 76 which uses the John Muir Way to follow the coast eastwards around the Levenhall Links, a series of lagoons and a nature reserve.  Pause here to enjoy the views across the rivermouth and back towards the city of Edinburgh.

If you are feeling fit, there is an optional extra 2.5 mile circuit from here using the John Muir Way and then returning along a network of paths passing the boating pool on your way.  Otherwise, from the mouth of the river, retrace your steps back to the first bridge over the Esk, which takes you across to Fisherrow. On another Day you might fancy a one way walk from Musselburgh to Aberlady along the John Muir Way.

Turn right and follow the path around Fisherrow links until you reach the harbour and, finally, the main Edinburgh Road.  Continue on the road for about half a mile until you see a sign on the left for the Brunstane Burn walkway.  Take this path to the first junction and turn left, signed for Newhailes. 

Newhailes near EdinburghThis path brings you into the National Trust for Scotland’s estate which has numerous paths around the policies.  At the gate turn right and follow the path through woodland past the ruined tea house and shell grotto until the house comes into view.  Bear left and then right to the car park and exit the main gate.  Turn left and follow the estate wall up to traffic lights then cross over to Clayknowes Crescent.  Turn right immediately along a path which runs for three-quarters of a mile to the station and back to the start of the walk.

For more information about Musselburgh itself, see this article The Honest Toun.

There’s more information about organised local walks here


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