Water of Leith

Route Details

  • From - to: Edinburgh to Balerno
  • Type: Towpath and railway path, mostly traffic-free (on-road links to stations at either end) 
  • Access: Railway stations at Curriehill, Kirknewton, Kingsknowe and central Edinburgh
  • Surface: Gravel and tarmac
  • Route number: 75

Route Description

Starting in the Meadows in Edinburgh, the route follows on-road path until reaching Leamington Lift, where you’ll turn onto a sealed shared-use path, which runs alongside the Union Canal. The canal is home to a wealth of wildlife, including moorhen, mallard, coot and mute swan. Take care when passing under bridges along the way where the path narrows – it's a good idea to ring your bell to alert oncoming path users you are there.

You'll pass Harrison Park, a Green Flag community park, with plenty of places to have a picnic, relax, and play, as well as some lovely views of the Polwarth Parish Church on the opposite side of the canal. For those interested in water sports, the Forth Canoe Club provides a range of lessons and activities for all level of canoeists.

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. After the aqueduct the path continues on as Route 754, while Route 75 turns off at a junction marked with a brightly painted millennium milepost, turning steeply up a short incline and over the A70.

The path 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.

The path then takes you through Colinton Tunnel, past another milepost and Spylaw Park, with a pleasant children's playpark and benches to take a breather on. After following the river for a short period, you'll pass under the A720, and turn off to the left, continuing along behind housing, 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. At Balerno High School, you can continue on Route 75, or to Curriehill train station and return to Edinburgh via train. 

Download a ride description sheet.

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The ride begins in central Edinburgh, travelling down the traffic-free route beside the Water of Leith, whose waters rise in the Pentland Hills and flow into the Firth of Forth at Leith. You'll travel down to Balerno High School, which can be reached via quiet roads from the stations at Curriehill or Kirknewton.