Jo’s Monday walk : Water of Leith, Edinburgh

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I do find Edinburgh an entrancing city, and one that has so many aspects!  I hopped off the train at Waverley Station into dire Scots weather, determined to make the most of my two days.  Holyrood Palace was on my list, and I reveled in all of its history.  A proposed hike up Arthur’s Seat was doomed by the veil of mist, but I still had another card up my sleeve.  There’s something mysterious sounding about the Water of Leith, and I was all set to unravel the mystery.

“A silver thread in a ribbon of green”.  How inviting that sounds.  The Water of Leith Walkway extends for 12 and a half miles, the river rising in the Pentland Hills, and flowing out to sea at the Port of Leith.  I intended to walk only part of its length, as my accommodation was close to an access point at Dean Bridge.  Designed by Thomas Telford and built in 1832, the bridge loftily spans a gorge, en route for South Queensferry.  I could see the pathway, winding beneath the bridge, but no obvious way down there, as private gardens border the river.  I had to backtrack, down through Dean Village, only to find that section closed due to subsidence.

Dean Village is the site of Lindsay’s Mill, one of eleven water-powered mills that rumbled through this valley in the 17th century.  The weir held back the flow of water to drive the mills.  Nowadays the area has been converted to smart modern homes but reminders of the past are everywhere, if you look.  Bell’s Brae was a granary, built in 1675.  I left the dog having his splash in the water and climbed back up to the bridge.  When a nice old gentleman pointed me in the direction of Stockbridge, I set off to rejoin the walkway.

I love the feeling of being in the countryside, in the middle of the city, and it wasn’t long before I’d edged away from smart Stockbridge and its stylish waterside homes.  Arboretum Avenue hints strongly at the Botanic Gardens, not too far away.   The path dodges and weaves from one river bank to another, and I’m pleased to spot a reassuring sign.  Still on track!

There are bridges aplenty and I’m rather glad I’d printed off details of the walk, or I’d never be sure when to cross over.  The terraced houses are the Stockbridge Colonies, originally built by a cooperative to provide low cost housing for mill workers. At Canonmills I again leave the river, to cross a busy street and yet another bridge.  My attention is caught by a young man, whose eyes are fixed on the river.  Following his gaze I’m thrilled to see a large heron, unperturbed by the presence of humans.

Flood gates control this stretch of river, a warning that things are not always so tranquil. Ducks peck and glide.  A parkland opens up before me and, around the corner, a lovely surprise.  A fast flowing weir is home to a pair of swans who preen for my delectation.

Ahead lies a quirky section,  where I pass through an industrial estate with a sense of humour.  I know that I’m not too far from Leith, where I hope to relax and enjoy the evening sunshine.  This walk has been full of surprises.

Just one last bridge to go and I’ve reached the Shore of Leith.  A place full of history, it started life as a medieval settlement and merged with the city of Edinburgh in 1920.  The port is still a commercial enterprise but old Leith has a wealth of charm.

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In the quiet of late afternoon I read the displays telling me that Leith was once bustling with activity as tall masted ships unloaded their cargoes. Fish, coal, grain and hides were exported to northern Europe and the Med, in return for wine, fruit, spices and cloth.  As ships grew too large for this shallow river mouth, the harbour was moved north.  New life has been breathed into old bones and the result is a pleasing melange.

Let’s sit a while with Sandy, with his gently smiling face, before we take a closer look at the Royal Navy War Memorial.  The details are on a display board in the square facing the water.  Calm reigns supreme under Sandy’s benign gaze.

So many facts, I can’t begin to reproduce them all, but if you delve into this Wikipedia link I’m sure you’ll find something of interest.  I didn’t have time to walk as far as the Royal Yacht Britannia, the Queen’s former floating home, now docked at Ocean Terminal. Reason to come back one day?

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A fascinating place, I think you’ll agree?  I didn’t intend for this post to be so long, so my apologies if I don’t offer you haggis, neeps and tatties. Just take my word for it- they were delicious.  Kettle on time, at last!

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Thank you so much for your indulgence and your generous support.  Again I have some wonderful walks to share and it’s all thanks to you.  If you’d like to join in at all, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page, or click on my logo above.  You’ll be very welcome.

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Always charming, often funny and never boring.  It has to be Drake, doesn’t it?

Speedy walk on water

I’ll never be able to produce jaw-dropping photography like Cardinal’s, but I can admire :

A Walk Through Praha- Part 2

I cannot resist sharing Meg.  She finds such pleasure in the small things in life :

Walking Warsaw with a friend

And rather more seriously, some Polish history :

A walking tour of Jewish Warsaw

BiTi’s here again, with some great photos.  Shame I’m no cook!

Ballymaloe Cooking School Gardens

Remember Smidge?  I stepped back into her territory last week so I thought I’d give her a shout :

I heart North Berwick

And for those of you who don’t know, lucky Sue lives on Samos in Greece :

The house with the pink shutters- The Potter, Samos Island

You know that game, ‘Where’s Wally?’  I’m playing ‘Where’s Susan?’ :

Walking Oslo, Norway

Kathrin takes us down Memory Lane to an area of Cologne in Germany :

My weekly ramble

Delighted to welcome Amanda to my walks.  Make sure you don’t miss this one!

Hanging Around in Helsinki – Part  II

That’s it for another week!  Perhaps now is a good time to tell you that I have one more walk for you next week and then I’ll be taking a 2 week break in the Algarve.  Poor me!  If you’d like to join me next week get those walks in soon.  Have a happy one!

172 comments

  1. Thanks for including me Jo! Your photos really gave me an impression of Water of Leith. It did look like a silvery thread in a sea of green. Lovely reflections on your photo of the wider sections of the river too.

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