Water of Leith

This route winds through quiet woodland and alongside the Water of Leith, taking you out of Edinburgh and into peaceful countryside. As you cycle or walk along this lovely trail you’ll pass rivers and canals which are home to a wealth of wildlife including wildflowers, moorhen and swans.

The ride or walk starts in the Meadows in Edinburgh, then continues on to a path which runs alongside the Union Canal. The canal is home to a wealth of wildlife, including moorhen, mallards, coots and mute swans.

As you cycle or walk along this lovely route you'll pass Harrison Park, a Green Flag community park, with plenty of places to have a picnic, relax, and play. You can also enjoy some lovely views of the Polwarth Parish Church on the opposite side of the canal.

The route continues down the canal, passing over the impressive Slateford Aqueduct, built in 1822 and spanning 152 metres. The crossing offers views across the city, and cyclists should dismount and walk with their bicycles over the narrow cobbled walkway.

The path then winds through quiet woodland and alongside the Water of Leith, whose waters rise in the Pentland Hills and flow into the Firth of Forth at Leith. The river is a peaceful green space, home to an array of wildlife, including over 80 species of bird, 11 species of fish, and over 250 varieties of wildflowers.

After that you cycle or walk through the Colinton Tunnel, then past Spylaw Park, where there’s a pleasant children's playpark and benches to take a breather on. After following the river for a short period you'll pass more built-up areas before returning to the quiet wooded path.

The final mile or so takes you through pleasant fields, with horses, rabbits and other wildlife to spot. The end of the route is at Balerno High School. You can continue on Route 75 or to Curriehill train station from where you can return to Edinburgh via train.

Things to see and do

  • Malleny Garden
  • Water of Leith Visitor Centre
  • Edinburgh Castle

Please note

We have taken all responsible steps to ensure that these routes are safe and achievable by people with a reasonable level of fitness. However, all outdoor activities involve a degree of risk. To the extent permitted by law, Sustrans accepts no responsibility for any accidents or injury resulting from following these routes. Walking and cycling routes change over time. Weather conditions may also affect path surfaces. Please use your own judgement when using the routes based upon the weather and the ability, experience and confidence levels of those in your group.

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