The Water of Leith

Serenity in the City

Flowing for 24 miles from its source in the Pentland Hills, the Water of Leith winds its way through Edinburgh to its outflow into the Firth of Forth at Leith.

In the late 19th century the area was at the centre of Edinburgh’s industrial heritage - it’s close proximity to water used to power the mills that produced paper, fabric and flour.

Water Of Leith Walkway Juniper Green Credit Water Of Leith Conservation Facebook

(Image Credit: Water of Leith Conservation Facebook)

Today, however the river is a much calmer scene. It has been designated as an Urban Wildlife Site and is home to a wide diversity of plants and animals from wild garlic and orchids to brown trout, heron, kingfisher and otter, all of which can be explored on foot or bike along the 12 3/4 mile Water of Leith Walkway from Balerno to Leith. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a roe deer, badger or otter.

Colinton Dell Copyright Visit Scotland Kenny Lam

(Image Credit: Visit Scotland Kenny Lam)

Operating since 1988, The Water of Leith Conservation Trust work tirelessly to protect and enhance the river by promoting education and recreation in the Visitor Centre, as well as working with volunteers and community groups to deliver around 240 river clean-ups each year.

Discover more about the Water of Leith Conservation Trust> 

This urban haven is a popular year-round for both residents and visitors. In the spring, it’s a joy to behold as plants and flowers start to burst into life, while in the autumn, crisp brown leaves blanket the area. However, don't feel like you must do the whole trail at once! Many locals join in the walk and drop off as they please from places such as Haymarket and Juniper Green. Make sure you have your camera at the ready as you never know what you might discover…

Dean Village Copyright Visit Scotland Kenny Lam

(Image Credit: Visit Scotland Kenny Lam)

The route travels through many areas of interest including: Colinton Village and Dell, the Union Canal, Saughton Winter Gardens, Murrayfield Stadium, the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Dean Village, Stockbridge, the Royal Botanic Garden and Leith. The walkway, which is suitable for cycling and accessible in part by wheelchairs and even by horseback, is well signposted and a map is available from the Visitor Centre. You can also see amazing works of art such as The Colinton Tunnel and “6 Times” by Anthony Gormley

Arguably one of the most charming sections is the route from Stockbridge to Dean Village which twists and turns through the New Town with landmarks such as St Bernards Well, which was once said to have healing waters, and the mighty Dean Bridge, which was designed by Thomas Telford. Top marks if you can also spot the otter statue!

8 St Bernards Well


So, shoes on, fill your flask and off you go – find your next adventure on the Water of Leith Walkway!