Walk: Water of Leith & Union Canal - Edinburgh's silver threads

City of Edinburgh | Slateford | Half day walk | ★★★

[Union Canal, Merchiston]

Unusually among Scotland's cities, Edinburgh doesn't have a large river running through it. The closest contender is the modest Water of Leith, whose beautiful banks prove that size isn't everything. Indeed, this 22-mile silver thread forms the backbone to a string of milling villages which underpinned much of the capital's growth over the centuries. This fairly lengthy route covers the stretch between busy Slateford, desirable Dean Village and fashionable Stockbridge, remaining remarkably green and verdant even in close proximity to congested streets and retail parks. The return along the Union Canal is equally alluring, with more leafy surroundings together with stylish residences overlooking the popular towpath. The walk can be joined in the city centre, but starting in Slateford (as described here) gives the opportunity to break for lunch in one of the New Town's numerous cafes and restaurants.

[Water of Leith, Dean Village]

Location & info

📌 Walk: Water of Leith & Union Canal - Edinburgh's silver threads ★★★
Start / finish at Water of Leith Visitor Centre (street parking available to west), Lanark Road (A70), Slateford, 3 mi southwest of Edinburgh Waverley station, G.R.: NT 221708 ///wisely.lock.lush
🚆🚌 Train to Slateford, local buses, or join the route in Edinburgh city centre.

► 14 km / 9 mi | ▲ 120 m | ⌚ Half a day | Easy
Features: Water of Leith & Visitor Centre; Saughton Park ★★★; Dean Village ★★★; Stockbridge; Edinburgh ★★★★★ New Town & local sights; Union Canal
Terrain: River and canal sections on clear, level paths. Pavements for city centre section, sometimes hilly.

Route: Start & Water of Leith Visitor Centre - Saughton Park, Dean Village & Stockbridge by Water of Leith Walkway - Edinburgh New Town (Clarence Street, Circus Lane, Moray Place, Charlotte Square, Lothian Road) & local sights - start via Union Canal

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On our visit

Wildlife: Grey squirrels, rabbits and orange-tip butterflies. Small fish in the Water of Leith. Plenty of birdlife including grey herons, swans, dippers and grey wagtails.
Weather: Slightly hazy sunshine, 20°C, light winds.

Chronological photo guide

[Water of Leith Visitor Centre]

[Water of Leith, Slateford]

[Grey heron]


[Saughton Park]



[Bell's Mills]

[Water of Leith Walkway]

[Water of Leith]

[Water of Leith]

[Weir in Dean Village]

[Dean Village]

[Dean Village]



[Circus Lane]

[New Town staircases]

[Moray Place]

[Bute House, Charlotte Square]

[Rose Street]

[Usher Hall]

[Start of the Union Canal at Tolcross]

[Leamington Lift Bridge]

[Union Canal]

[Union Canal]

[Polwarth Parish Church]

[Union Canal]

[Union Canal]

[Rejoining the Water of Leith Walkway at the finish]


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