Allan Crow is in training to join Bob’s Walk 2015. His latest walk took him across the Forth to the Water of Leith
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One of the joys of walking is you get to see towns and cities from an entirely new perspective.
I grew up in Wester Hailes in Edinburgh - a grim housing estate designed to suck to the life out of any community spirit even before folk move in.
It sits at the bottom of a dual carriageway which feeds into Colinton, and leads to the leafy suburbs of Juniper Green and Balerno.
And it’s there you can start the Water of Leith trail; a 12.5-mile journey which takes you all the way to Leith.
Over the course of five hours on a gloriously sunny Saturday I meandered the length and breadth of my home city.
A number 44 bus trip through the town and out to Balerno, off at the stop next to the high school and I was ready to roll.
The Water of Leith is pretty much flat, almost entirely off-road, perfect for families, cyclists and joggers … and walkers.
It’s easy, accessible, and you can leave it at any time and be in a shop, cafe, shop or back on the bus in a matter of minutes. In fact, that rucksack on your back is pretty much redundant.
It truly is a green corridor which weaves like a ribbon through the heart of Auld Reekie.
In Balerno I saw a couple relaxing by their outdoor swimming pool which featured a ceramic penguin as a lifeguard - one of the many hidden features in gardens which take your breath away.
It takes no time at all to pass Juniper Green and Colinton before arriving at the Slateford canal with its narrow path and no wall between you and the flat water. The duck sitting on sunbathing in the jetty didn’t seem too concerned as cyclists dismounted to negotiate the path as walkers passed in the opposite direction, all careful to avoid a diup in the calm water.
You can continue and follow the canal, or you can take a left and head to the visitor centre. It’s a good stopping off point for info and a cuppa before carrying on towards Saughton where the playing fields now boast a tree of hanging trainers - shoes thrown up and into the branches!
Cross the road and you are back on to the path which picks up the river once more all the way to Murrayfield and round the rugby stadium into Roseburn.
One more hop across the road and down a flight of wooden steps and you are back into the tranquil wooded walks along the river’s edge where you’ll find some amazing waterfront homes; places you never even knew existed far less lived in!
You’ll pass the back stairs to the National Gallery of Modern Art - one of many obvious stopping places - before you head to Dean Village, arguably the most stunning part of the walk. It’s the perfect place to stay if you have oodles of money - waterfront balconies in modern flats where time is marked by the sound of water lapping agast the river banks, magnificent historic buildings with many nooks and crannies, old town houses still standing and looking resplendent, and everything wrapped in tranquility. Alas, I can but look, dream and move on ...
If you want food, Stockbridge is as good a place to any to stop - the area is packed with great eateries, from sandwich shops to cafes and great pubs such as Hector’s Bar. You can be seated with a cold beer within minutes before returning to the path as it heads on from Canonmills - where properties balance right over the water - and onwards to Bonnington before finally arriving in Leith.
I turned off just after it passed Leith Walk, and doubled back for my bus, but you can follow it all the way to Ocean Terminal
I’ll definitely do the Water of Leith at least once more before Bob’s Walk in June.
It was a pleasure to see my home city from a completely different perspective.
>> There will be a daily blog during Bob’s walk in June here at www.fifetoday.co.uk and www.bobswalk.co.uk - plus several updates leading up to the fundraiser for Maggie’s Fife
>> Allan Crow is joining Bob’s Walk 2015, June 13-21, from The Kelpies round Fife Coastal Path to Maggie’s in Dundee, raising funds for Maggie’s Fife.
You can donate online: BobsWalk2015