07 Nov A walk in the countryside in Edinburgh
If you want to get out of the city for a couple of hours, then a walk along the Union Canal to Colinton Village is a good suggestion. It gives you the feeling of a walk in the country while still in the City of Edinburgh. All the more relevant in the present time of COVID-19.
Why not start with breakfast at Hula or Loudon on Fountainbridge. After breakfast cross the road at the main traffic lights, there is access to the canal either side of the Akva bar. Walk on the right-hand side of the canal, at the outset you will see a number of canal barges some occupied full time and other for holidaying. You will also view the Leamington canal bridge which still works and will rise to let the barges in and out of the Fountainbridge canal basin.
The first half mile or so is through built up area of Edinburgh. But soon opens up with playing field to the right. After walking under a bridge, to your left you will see building for canoe training mainly used in early evenings and weekends. On the right is Harrison Park very popular with local dog walkers . You’ll often see a group of people standing chatting while a variety of dogs chase each other around the park.
Just before going under the next bridge on the left is a little shed. They used to let out rowing boats from here but seems to be no longer in use. (The photo on right of Boat Hire Shed was taken by Wendy Murray)
As you walk further along in the next half mile you will see boat sheds on your left and further on-again boat sheds on your right. The first lot are used by a local secondary school and the latter by Edinburgh University rowing club. Just after this on the right is Boroughmuir Rugby club ground and playing fields.
After a few hundred yards the canal will slowly go around a corner . You will walk over a small aqueduct over the Lanark road. But this is just a taster of what is to come. A few yards further on you will walk over The Slateford aqueduct which spans the river of Leith, and Inglis Green road. At 38 metres high and 175 metres long, it is quite an impressive piece of engineering.
Water of Leith Walkway
A few hundred yards further on you will see a bridge going over the canal as you walk under the bridge, immediately to your right is a walkway. Take this route onto the bridge and you are now on the Water of Leith walkway.
You will now start to feel you are in the countryside as the walk slowly winds it way up to Colinton village. The Water of Leith running down below to your left. This area can be muddy under foot, so walking shoes recommended or least shoes you don’t mind getting a bit dirty. You are walking on what was an old railway line. Part of the walk will take you through a long, well lit railway tunnel that has a huge mural painted along the full length, which even during COVID-19 lockdown is almost finished. This work has be done by local Graffiti artists and local school children. The Theme is a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson who wrote Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde amongst many other books and poems. He was born in Edinburgh but suffered from TB so spent time as a child out in Colinton Village where the air was cleaner.
After coming through the tunnel you will come to a bridge over head. To your left there are stairs going down into Spylaw park and these access Colinton Village. On the way down the stairs on your left-hand side you will see water diverted over a round stone which would have been part of a mill and would have driven cogs to grind wheat or other local grains.
Follow the signpost up into the village, as you come out of Spylaw Park .You can go down to the left and visit he local church where you can find information about Robert Louis Stevenson and the time he spent here. Alternatively walk straight across the road, watching out for traffic, and up the small alleyway to Colinton High street. Here you will find a small café called Java Moment which has homemade soup and sandwiches. If you are there early enough their home made cheese scones go well with a bowl of soup. I have since found out you can phone Java Moment and pre order a scone or sandwich to eat in Spylaw park. There are also two bars in Colinton Village, Colinton Inn in the main street and The Spylaw back down near where you exited the park. They both have a good selection of bar food and have outside seating areas should the weather be warm enough.
After you have explored the area you can catch a Lothian Region Number 16 bus which will take you back into Princes street. The bus goes via Morningside, Bruntsfield, Tollcross and Lothian road at the cost of £1.70 per person. Lothian region buses now take credit cards, simply tap the card reader with your card and payment is taken automatically. Otherwise you need the correct change as drivers don’t have access to cash. The bus will take about 30-40 minutes to get you back into town.
All photos except the Canal bridge and the old boat shed were taken by myself on a walk to Colinton Village on the 6th Nov between 1pm and 3.30pm we walked there and back. It took an hour each way, distance from Fountainbridge to Colinton Village is around 3.5 miles.
Eat walk Edinburgh food tours offer walks through the Old and New town tasting locally sourced Scottish food at five different venues with three of the stops also having Scottish drink tastings. The guides talk about the history of the area as the tour walks between venues. the tour covers over 2 miles but is broken up with food stops where we have table reservations with seating to enjoy the food and the company.