Published: 29th SEPTEMBER 2023

Active travel route along the Water of Leith opens during Scotland’s Climate Week

Patrick Harvie, Minister for Active Travel, has officially opened the path along the Water of Leith to Balerno. Part of plans to improve the National Cycle Network Route 75, the project used recycled tires, and aims to create a safe and attractive shared-use path for people to walk, wheel and cycle all year round.

Ribbon Cutting with Patrick Harvie, Water of Leith, NCN 75. Photo credit: Andy Catlin.

Approximately 6.7 kilometres of the path has been upgraded, stretching from just upstream of the Union Canal on Lanark Road to Balerno. 

What was once a challenging, muddy terrain has been improved using a groundbreaking material made from over 49,000 recycled tires.

As the Scottish Government aims to reach net zero by 2045, this innovative approach not only provides a safe path but also contributes to a remarkable carbon footprint reduction of 1,097,087kg when compared to traditional tire disposal methods. 

Primary school children cycling along the National Cycle Network Route 75. Photo credit Andy Catlin

Improvements to allow access all year round

One of the key benefits of this new path is its excellent drainage capability, allowing year-round access, even during the winter months.   

Additionally, physical barriers were removed to improve accessibility.

This includes the redesign of 21 bollards and the construction of a new ramp for easy access to Lanark Road. 

People walking along the new path. Photo credit: Andy Catlin

Opening up new opportunities

The City of Edinburgh Council Natural Heritage Section worked closely with local community groups, including The Water of Leith Conservation Trust, to help shape the project.     

For the communities of Currie and neighbouring Balerno, home to over 13,000 residents, this upgraded path opens many opportunities. 

It enables daily commutes to Edinburgh city centre, offers a safe route to schools, and connects residents with local shops and restaurants along the National Cycle Network Route 75. 

Crucially, these enhancements will allow people in Edinburgh West the opportunity to make sustainable choices.

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During Scotland’s Climate Week, it’s particularly welcome to see that almost 50,000 old tyres have now been reused to make the new path. Blockquote quotation marks
Patrick Harvie, Minister for Active Travel, Scotland

Artwork, Water of Leith to Balerno. Photo credit: Andy Catlin

Bringing communities together

Following the path opening, Charlie Cumming, Chief Executive of Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust, said: 

"ELGT are delighted to have completed the upgrading of the path that will enable more people to benefit from accessing a wonderful walkway which links the city to the countryside and surrounding hills.

"The improved surface provides everyone a great way to explore the local area and will bring communities across the city and beyond together.

"The trail offers the perfect opportunity for locals and visitors to get out, exercise and try something new while enjoying some fresh air along the route of the Water of Leith, whether it is completing the entire length, or some of the more local circular routes."


Chris Brace, Senior Network Delivery Manager at Sustrans Scotland, said:

"We are delighted to see the completion of a major upgrade to a section of Route 75 on the National Cycle Network.

"The new surfacing and sustainable measures ensure that walking, wheeling, and cycling can be an attractive and enjoyable option year-round, reaffirming our commitment to providing accessible infrastructure for everyone.

"We hope the new shared-use path will be a vital amenity for the local community in Edinburgh West, making it easier and safer for everyone to make healthier, happier and more sustainable choices for their everyday journeys."


Caring for the environment

Speaking of the new path, Patrick Harvie, Minister for Active Travel, Scotland, said:

"I’m pleased to see the improvements to the Water of Leith path, which is part of the National Cycle Network Route 75.

"Over £1.7 million from the Scottish Government has been invested here to make walking, wheeling and cycling easier for all and I know the path is particularly popular for families and people undertaking more leisurely journeys.

"During Scotland’s Climate Week, it’s particularly welcome to see that almost 50,000 old tyres have now been reused to make the new path."


Find out more about National Cycle Network routes in Edinburgh and the Lothians.  

Read more about our work in Scotland.

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