Jo’s Monday walk : Water of Leith, Edinburgh


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.


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?


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!

walking logo

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.


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!


  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.

  2. Sigh… I can’t open your site on the connection I have this week (only sites with the https:// work) and the photos ran out at the heron. I will come back for a visit once home to see the rest. You do make it all look very attractive. I think I am still recovering from all the steps and hills!

  3. the memorial photos are my favorite part – and the detailed images give us a feel for the rich texture and solid material. what a great, artsy tribute!
    and then the swans – heron – ducks….. ah – cheers for this Monday walk Jo (ready for that tea now)

  4. Edinburgh was one of my favourite places when my parents took my brother and me to Europe when I was twelve. We walked the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace with stops along the way. I’ve repeated that walk with my own boys but one day I hope to get back there again and do this walk you’ve shared and see more of this wonderful city. 🙂

    1. It is one of the best looking cities I know, H. Suffers from being perishing cold at times, which is one of the reasons my other half didn’t want to come along (that and he’s scared of Jude! 🙂 🙂 ). I was just going through my zillion photos and wondering what next. Maybe Holyrood Palace, but that would make a good Traces of the Past post for Paula. Sigh! A blogger’s life is terrible hard 🙂

  5. I have read a lot about Edinburgh lately. Have to say your photos and story present a different face of what I have seen. Have never been a fan of Scotland but I think I am changing my mind.

    1. Thanks for the link up 🙂 I would have found you before next Monday but you’ve saved me the trouble. 🙂 Not that it IS a trouble, but my commenters take precedence over the Inbox. It’s simply a question of time.

      1. No problem, I understand! 🙂 There are so many channels of informations and so many messages to check and answer!

  6. A really wonderful post, Jo. I’ve never been to Edinburgh, so I was fascinated by all your photos. Love the Navy memorial. What is the writing on the side of that car? “Is it too weird to live, too rare to die”? 🙂 Whenever I see the word Leith, I remember my mom getting us as kids to say the tongue twister, “The Leith police dismisseth us.” Trying to say it fast, it always came out as “The Leith polith dithmitheth uth.” Funny the memories that sometimes pop up almost out of nowhere. 🙂 xx

    1. How funny- Elaine quoted exactly the same tongue twister! I don’t remember it 🙂 🙂 Yes, too rare to die- endangered species? Quite clever I thought, and amusing in a back street garage. Never know what you’ll find! Saturday’s post, with Jude, is possibly more typical but there are so many aspects to Edinburgh. I hope to be doing Holyrood Palace on Thursday. Thanks for your company! 🙂

  7. Jo, my husband is Scotish and we often visit Edinburgh. Brian’s mother and brother live there and so we have a place to stay. It is such a beautiful and elegant city. I did not know about this walk and it is now firmly on my list for my next visit. Maybe next time you will get to climb up to Arthur’s Seat, the views from the top are amazing. Thank you for your beautiful photos 😄

    1. Small world Gilda, but with a name like Baxter I should have known. 🙂 🙂 I don’t know that I would have managed Arthur’s Seat this time because my ankle is still playing up after I twisted it down on the Moors a couple of weeks ago. I’d have been seriously tempted to try if the sun had broken out a teeny bit sooner though. 🙂 I remember looking across at it from Calton Hill last time I was there and thinking ‘one of these days’ 🙂 🙂 Leith is lovely, and I still have the other half of the walkway to do. A return next September is on the cards. There’s a link in this post to the Water of Leith walkway site if you need more details.

  8. Absolutely lovely ….. I been to Dean Village twice… but I never seen any of this … I have to go back, after seeing this. There is some buildings I recognize.
    Same with Leith, only been once, but I was so in love that I only had eyes from HIM …. so I have to back again. Now I have a full program for my 5 days next year. Magnificent images, Jo. You and your little camera create magic.
    Thanks for the pub-card … arrived yestday.

    1. Hiya Vivi 🙂 I have an Edinburgh postie for you too- if I ever get around to posting it! 🙂 🙂 My Airbnb was in one of the big Georgian houses just past the bridge so it was all on my doorstep. Too tempting not to give it a try, even with a poorly hoof. What lovely times you must have had back then. Here’s to memories, golden girl 🙂

      1. Thanks, Ms Badly …. I have been looking at Airbnb for quite a few destinations … but they are not cheap. Maybe I should have a look again for September next year or I put our money with Premier Inn. Absolutely lovely post.

      2. Thanks, sweetheart 🙂 Just been baking apple pies to use up the last of the apples. Phew! You know I’m no cook 🙂 My room only cost £33, Vivi, but it was shared facilities. I wouldn’t do it if I’d been there with Michael. I think there was quite a lot of choice but I went for cheap and good location. Floury hugs!

      3. Okay, I looked at Airbnb and I think it will end up with Premier Inn or Ibis Styles.
        I’m not a pie person …. don’t make and very seldom eat. But a home made apple pie with some ice cream .. I will never say no too. I will be over later for a piece … and COFFEE! Afternoon hug with sunshine.

  9. What a fabulous post Jo! You’ve woven a lovely descriptive story interspersed with all those gorgeous photos. The history is fascinating and the way all the elements come together to produce the character of a place is so interesting. I’ve seen some of those Stockbridge houses on property programmes and they look so elegant. The waterway photos are stunning along with the local wildlife. A lovely way to start the week (sort of I know it’s Tuesday!). And now a cup of tea sounds a lovely idea. Thanks for a wonderful walk and have a great week! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Rosemay. You’re always so appreciative. It makes the time and effort worthwhile (and I enjoy it too 🙂 ). Hoping your week just gets better and better! :

      1. You’re very welcome Jo – I love reading your posts and it amazes me how much time and effort you put into them all not to mention coordinating the “Monday Walking Group”! Thanks and wishing you a wonderful week too! 🙂

  10. From these gorgeous photos I can tell that Edinburgh didn’t let you down weather-wise. Those blue skies are fabulous. We only spend a day in Edinburgh, to go to the tattoo, so it’s definitely on my list to return to one day.

    1. It has the most stunning location, doesn’t it Carol? I saw briefly that you were at Beatrix Potter’s but haven’t had time to visit FB this week. Later when I do my ’round up’ 🙂 🙂 You move on to York tomorrow?

    1. The ‘good’ news, Elena is that there are 6 and a half more potential miles of the walkway to explore. It’s just that I didn’t have time 😦 Maybe next time 🙂 🙂 Thanks for your enthusiasm.

    1. Could you use your influence, Sue? 🙂 🙂 Actually it’s often a little cold up there for me but Jude and me were incredibly lucky with the weather. It’s a fabulous city, though, and I’m sure you’ll love it if you get the opportunity. 🙂 Thanks for the kind words. I read somewhere you have some more excitement planned? Always! 🙂

      1. If I had any influence there I would use it indeed! So glad the two of you had fun.
        We have a trip to Africa planned in late March. It seems like a long time yet. First things first it will be sea kayaking in the Sea of Cortez in October off the coast of Mexico.

  11. Well darling you are making north of the border look very appealing, but I don’t think I can risk teh chill, not while it’s cheaper to fly south anyway. Love the bike on the bridge, actually I love all these pics x:-)x

    1. It was incredible how warm it was, Gilly, but I can’t pretend that’s a regular occurrence. Well, not in my experience anyway 🙂 I haven’t caught up with Jude yet today so I don’t know if it’s continuing. A beautiful city though. Back to work today? How grim! 😦 Hugs darlin!

  12. Another person who hasn’t ventured to Edinburgh for oh I don’t know how many years … but Leith looks rather special . My word you did some walking, gathering photos and so much historical information along the way .. do you remember it all I wonder with my memory I’m hopeless I’m afraid :-/
    A really enjoyable post Jo you write so well x

  13. Hi, just found you by popping over from Jude. I love Edinburgh but never spent any time in Leith. What an omission that was! The swans would have made it for me too. Lovely walk.

  14. Jo, I’ve only once been to Leith on a rainy (no surprise there!) day in winter – I had no idea of the rich history and scenery it offered. Such a beautiful city-non-city walk with surprises all the way. What a beautiful bench statue of Sandy – lovely detail and facial expression of contentment.

    1. It was my first visit to Leith, Annika, and a long promised one. I was so lucky to be able to sit outside the Shore pub in gentle sunshine (and with aching feet- it was a full on day 🙂 Holyrood House still to come). Thank you for your company and kind remarks.

  15. Thanks, Jo, for another great suggestion! Hopefully – like I sadi before – we’ll have the opportunity some tiem to go back to Edinburgh,
    Have a wonderful week,

    1. I need to go back some time to walk in the other direction, Anabel, but there are only so many hours in a day. 🙂 I have a photo of my feet, propped up at the end of my bed in exhaustion 🙂 Thanks for your link. I’ll be over as soon as I’ve cooked tea.

    1. The day after was even better, Paula, and I met Jude! We shared the Royal Botanic gardens and a rather nice cocktail (details on 6WS but Jude was averse to having her photo taken 🙂 ). Thanks for taking time out for me- I know this is rather lengthy.

  16. What a great walk, in an entrancing city and area, Jo. Very diverse, informing and attractive. And, I like that it was flat and involved a river. And, that the sky turned blue eventually, of course. That reflection is awesome! Do they have scones in Scotland? I better get on with the blogging about my recent walks…

    1. Girdle scones, I believe, Liesbet and they’re flat. I never got to sweet things in my couple of days (unless you count the whisky sauce on the haggis meatballs? 🙂 ) Thanks, darlin!

  17. My head is spinning now with all the different (and interesting) things you saw on this walk. I’m pretty sure I haven’t been to Leith (unless I was too young to remember) but it looks like a walk well worth doing. When I see the word Leith I always think of the tongue twister that we learned as children ‘ ‘The Leith Police Dismisseth us’. 🙂

      1. I have a return engagement for 9/11 next year, would you believe? It’s Viveka Gustavson’s birthday(My Guilty Escapes) and I hope to go along for the celebration. 🙂

      1. Got back from Wisley just over an hour ago….I went with Sarah Longes@ Mirador design, and she persuaded me to hire a buggy so I could get around further and see all the sculptures displayed at present – result!!

  18. Oh wow what a stunning walk, much prettier than my riverside walk this week! And a side of Edinburgh I’ve not seen . . .something else for us to do when we are up there (fingers crossed) in a few weeks. Glorious post Jo 🙂

    1. A proper map will help if you do, Becky. The Water of Leith Walkway link has one you can download. As often happens some bits were not so pristine as others but choc a block full of character. I would walk some more of it if I went back. Thanks a lot, hon, and for the walk too. I’m late getting to the laptop today. Nothing planned but it turned out hectic 🙂 🙂

      1. Thanks for the tip . . . if we do I’ll let you know how we get on 🙂
        I’m days and days out of touch so only just now catching up on messages and comments!

  19. Is this your first Edinburgh visit? It looks like a great place. My eye especially caught by sharp reflections in that beautiful first photo, the wonderful bike and the figures on the memorial. I hope your week is exactly as you’d like it. I’ve hidden a hug in each day. Play hugemon!

    1. Hello, sweetheart 🙂 🙂 Edinburgh is only 2/3 hours away by train and I’ve been a few times over the years. Usually in the Winter when it is the most perishing cold place in the world (and Michael has refused to return there with me because of that 🙂 ). My last time was just a day visit and the ice rink and Christmas carousel were up in Princes St. I’ve never been to the West End of the city or the Leith walkway, and have wanted to do it for a number of years. Tick in box 🙂 🙂 (but I still have about 6 and a half miles to do in the other direction). Ooh, hugemon! Yes, please 🙂 Now, where shall I hide yours?
      What was intended to be a ‘rest’ day today ended up a walk around a country park (with a gorgeous raffia dragon 🙂 ) and coffee with the girls this afternoon. Late to the temple of blogging 🙂

      1. I’m glad you put brackets around the raffia dragon!!! The image of you arm in arm was enticing. I love the “temple of blogging”. Very apt. I’m hunting for my hugs. I hope they’re not in my room or I’ll never find them. I’m tidying up.

    1. Fabulous, Kathe! 🙂 🙂 Small world. I’m sitting looking out at a greyish north east this morning but it has been wonderful. Hope the weather holds for you- but you won’t care. The scenery’s glorious, isn’t it?

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