We head to Scotland every August for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. There are always an amazing array of performances to choose from (literally hundreds every day) and we could easily fill a weekend or even a week just going to shows. However, Edinburgh offers so much more so we always try to carve out a morning or afternoon to explore a new part of the city. This summer, we spent some time exploring the Water of Leith Walkway which runs almost 13 miles through the city and out to Leith (at least the name isn't misleading!). We explored two sections of the walkway from Stockbridge to Dean Village and from Leith to a point on the bus line near Bonnington. Here are eight highlights of our walk.
1. Sweet Treats and Cheeses in Stockbridge
Stockbridge is a quaint neighborhood about a 20 minute walk from Edinburgh's New Town. The Water of Leith runs right through the heart of town. Come to Stockbridge if you want to eat well. There are plenty of restaurants and artisanal coffee shops along the high street. We sampled a delicious fruit danish and coffee at Peter's Yard, a Swedish inspired coffee shop. We also stopped into I. J. Mellis Cheesemongers to pick up supplies for our walk.
2. St. Bernard's Well
Strolling along the water from Stockbridge, we soon came upon Bernard's Well. Famous for its mineral waters, the current structure was raised in 1789. The building is usually closed except for special occasions but it adds great atmosphere to the walk along the Water of Leith.
3. Sandwiches by the Riverside
We ducked down a flight a stairs to the water's edge for a makeshift picnic lunch. We'd selected mature cheddar and onion jam sandwiches pressed into a panini from I.J. Melis Cheesemongers. It was very zen having a bite and listening to the water gurgle past.
4. Steep Steps
Continuing along the path through a deeply forested area, we encountered a steep set of stairs and headed down toward water's edge, an air of mystery surrounded us as we wondered what was in store at the other end and hoping we wouldn't find a dead end and have to climb back up :-)
5. Waterfalls and Runes
Fortunately, the stairs led us along the Water of Leith toward Dean Village. We passed a waterfall and then small piles of rocks (dare I say runes?) dotting the middle of the water. How did they get there and why? It remains a mystery but looks really cool.
6. Beautiful Butterflies
The Water of Leith is an area of natural beauty passing through the heart of Edinburgh. I spotted this gorgeous butterfly along the path which made my day.
7. Nesting Birds
On our second outing along the Water of Leith from Leith to Bonnington, we spotted a number of nesting birds like this moorhen. So many species call this river home.
8. Sculpture Out to Sea
The Water of Leith terminates at (surprise!) Leith. We took the opportunity to walk along the port. There are some shops, a mall, and plenty of large container ships in the area. What impressed me the most though was this solitary figure sculptured at the end of the pier looking out toward the horizon. I found it very poignant somehow.
Overall, the Water of Leith provides a great opportunity to take a break from the craziness of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Get outside, get your legs pumping, and have a quiet walk through this lovely area of nature befor your next show.