Hiking On The Water of Leith Walkway (Juniper Green – Slateford)

With its stunning scenery and well-maintained footpaths, this walk is as easy on the eye as it is on the legs. Starting at The Juniper Green Inn and heading down the hill, you will reach the start of this splendid 1 – 1.5 hour walk.

Getting there

  • By car: there is plenty of free on street parking in Juniper Green
  • By public transport: take either bus routes 44 or 45 and get off at Baberton Avenue, right next to The Juniper Green Inn.

After walking down from the busy main road at Juniper Green, the first thing you will notice is how quiet and serene the area is. As well as being set back from the road, the path is also shielded from the noise by the abundance of trees. You will cross a number of bridges- both ancient and modern- all of which provide excellent photo opportunities.

A little further on, you will come to Spylaw Park which really is a lovely place to stop off for half an hour or so. The park is vast and surrounded by many interesting trees. If you’re lucky, you might see a variety of of dog breeds running around and playing.

As you exit the park via the northeastern end, you will come across a very striking old building. This will be the mansion of local historical figure and philanthropist, James Gillespie. Gillespie made his fortune as a snuff merchant and built the house in 1773 right next to his snuff-mill. Gillespie requested that upon his death, his fortune should be used to build a hospital and a school for the poor.

The mansion of James Gillespie

Next up is the car park where, until 1943, was the location of Colinton Rail Station, part of the Balerno branch. Keep going a little further and you will come across the old train tunnel which now has a cycle path running through it. Around this area, those with a keen eye might spot a heron or a kingfisher. The tunnel is well lit enough to be able to see all the interesting graffiti on the walls. In fact, along with the bare brick walls, the old style orange street lighting only makes this location more atmospheric.

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Colinton train tunnel. This tunnel was on the old Balerno to Edinburgh line. Marina said how lovely it would be to ride a train along this beautiful river walk. She's right. But what's funny is that I bet people on the train, years ago, were thinking how nice it would be to walk along this same route. . . . #Edonburgh #scotland #visitscotland #visitedinburgh #igersedinburgh #tunnel #train #rail #abandonedplaces #abandonedtrainstation #instawalk #waterofleith #worldplaces #travel #worldphoto #trees #nature #aroundtheworld #aroundtheglobe #travel #travelphoto #tunnelphoto #natgeo #natgeotravel #hiddenedinburgh #exploreedinburgh #bestoftheday #photooftheday #picoftheday

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The rest of the hike is more of the same, relaxing riverside walk that you will have become accustomed to, over the course of the last hour. At this point, there are a number of different paths you can take to continue and they all head much in the same direction. There will be a path turning left to take you to the Union Canal, but we chose to stick to the path which is closest to the river.

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Eventually, you will end up at the Water of Leith Visitor Centre which is well worth a visit if it happens to be open when you arrive. From here, you can head up onto the canal and check out Slateford Viaduct or it’s just 25 minutes to the city centre from here. If you drove to Juniper Green, it’s only 15 minutes back up the hill on the 44 bus.

And here is the full route: