As the film â€˜Sunshine on Leithâ€™ has opened in cinemas this month, it seemed like a good idea to head down to Edinburghâ€™s port for a walk. If you havenâ€™t been to Leith for a while youâ€™re in for a surprise; there have been plenty of changes over the past decade.
Leithâ€™s historic and maritime heritage is still there to discover, and the area is now very attractive for visitors. Walkways, cafes and bars abound and, beyond the historic heart of the town, the sharp lines of Ocean Terminal shopping centre and the industrial buildings of the docks make an interesting backdrop for a walk. Sunshine canâ€™t always be guaranteed in Leith, but thereâ€™s no doubt that a brisk breeze off the Firth of Forth whipping the white horses on a sparkling blue sea makes for a great setting.
This walk starts from Ocean Terminal, reached from the city centre by Lothian buses 11, 22 ,34, 35 or36. The route is around 3.5 miles but since this is a city-centre walk it can easily be made shorter or longer. The streets of Leith bear much more exploration than just the route described here.
The route starts with a brief detour to check out the short, new Britannia Walk pathway. With Ocean Terminal behind you, turn left to the end of the building where you see signs for this waterside path heading left. There are expansive views across the Western Harbour and over to Fife, and you can look back to the Royal Yacht Britannia at its berth alongside Ocean Terminal.
Return to the start of the walkway and, with Ocean Terminal on your right, at the first roundabout turn left along Ocean Drive. This takes you past the imposing Scottish Government building at Victoria Quay, and over a bridge where you can see the Victoria swing bridge to your right. Keep straight on then turn left into Prince of Wales Dock which is now open to walkers and cyclists. The dock is right at the centre of the port of Leith and gives you some idea of the scale of the activity that must have taken place there over the years.
Retrace your steps back to the swing bridge and, keeping it on your right, head inland down the side of the Water of Leith to the Shore. Pass the historic buildings, restaurants and bars to cross over the second bridge on your right, Sandport Place, and take the pathway immediately to your left. This is the Water of Leith Walkway which leads all the way to Balerno, 12 miles away.
Fortunately, you are not heading that far today! Take the Walkway along the side of the river as it picks up the route of an old railway line. After about a mile bear right at a junction towards a black National Cycle Network route marker. This is the Victoria Path which leads you for half a mile through a green corridor, under Ferry Road and into Victoria Park. Go through the park until the path bears left under Craighall Road and joins up with the Hawthornvale cycle path. Turn right and this leads you back towards Leith. The path emerges on Lindsay Road, where you turn right and then left into North Leith Sands. At the end of this street turn right and head back to your start point at Ocean Terminal.
You can find more information about organised local walks here