Water of Leith 2

Having scooted the lower sections of the Water of Leith walkway, from the Port of Leith up to the Slateford area of Edinburgh, the previous weekend, I was keen this weekend to complete the final upstream section. This would take me from Slateford to Balerno, a slightly shorter stretch at only 5.5 miles, though uphill all the way but with the bonus of 5.5 miles downhill on the way back.

Not paying attention at the start had me searching for the entrance to the walkway, taking me along Lanark Road and finally finding access at Redhall Walled Garden – the actual entrance I’d missed was just a few meters in the other direction from where I started. A footbridge took me across the Water of Leith to join the path proper. Initial sections of the walk were quite rough, being loose gravel but the Swifty Air was able to manage just fine, and pretty much all the route was through leafy woodland with a few short stretches alongside housing.

One place I was keeping an eye out for was Colinton Tunnel, a remnant of the railway line that once ran here, the Balerno Branch of the Caledonian Railway. The tunnel has recently been preserved with good lighting and a mural running the full length of the tunnel. Well worth stopping to take a look.

The route now followed the line of the old railway, the surface varying from rough gravel to smooth tarmac and yet again, my bell was frequently in use to alert the many dog walkers, slow-strollers, pram-pushers, speeding cyclists and morning joggers, all out enjoying the bright but cool September weather. One old lady even thanked me for using my bell, which was most pleasing.

The 12.5 mile Water of Leith Walkway is an enjoyable scoot, walk, cycle or run, through very pleasant surroundings, however, when scooting much of the time is spent keeping an eye on surface conditions, watching out for pot holes, large stones, sudden sticks, wandering dogs, errant bicycles and staying children, so you don’t always have the opportunity to see what is going on around you. Having said that, scooting along on the Swifty Air is such an enjoyable activity that it doesn’t really matter.

The route ends at Balerno, where I stopped for some welcome chocolate and a drink, before about-turning and heading back with the added bonus of having gravity in my favour now, as I scooted downstream. Many of the pedestrians I’d passed on the way up, I was now meeting again on the return.

At Bogsmill, I somehow took a wrong turning. Well, not strictly wrong, just different, and I found myself following the Union Canal and crossing the Slateford Viaduct with it’s very narrow cobbled footpath, quite tricky when there are cyclists coming the other way, all be it pushing their bicycles. This different route would be not a problem as this would bring me out exactly where I started.

With the entire 12.5-mile length of the Water of Leith Walkway now completed, I had a good idea of what the route entails, surface conditions and so on, and could now look forward to completing the entire route in a single outing, some 25 miles in all. I also made a mental note that a night ride would also an interesting possibility. Watch this space, as they say.

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