Starting in the Pentland Hills, The Water of Leith Walkway takes you through leafy Juniper Green along the old Colinton railway and Dell then through Edinburgh to the Firth of Forth. The full walk is 13 miles but for a half-day easy stroll you can start halfway at the Water of Leith Visitor Centre and get a view of the importance of this river to Edinburgh. Once boasting 70 mills producing paper, flour, snuff and textiles, it flows from the rural Pentland Hills through Edinburgh to Leith’s busy port.
Follow the meandering river downstream to the preserved Dean Village deep in a gorge spanned by Thomas Telford’s dramatic Dean Bridge. Here you can stop off at the Gallery of Modern Art. At Canonmills leave the trail for a visit to the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens.
The walkway passes through considerable woodland and the river flourishes with wildlife; brown trout, grayling, eels and otters have been seen. There are kingfishers, herons, wagtails and dippers. You may also see roe deer and otters.
End up with a visit to the Royal Yacht Britannia docked at Leith’s Ocean Terminal and immerse yourself in the bustling splendour of this great whaling and shipping port.
The Water of Leith is Edinburgh's secret river, winding a 12 mile path from the outer suburb of Balerno right through the heart of the City until it emerges near the docked Royal Yacht Britannia. If you pick up the trail behind the National Gallery of Modern Art then the last few miles are enlivened by spotting five life-sized Anthony Gormley figures who stand in the river bed.
Well signposted nearby, easiest found behind the National Gallery of Modern Art
24 Lanark Road, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH14 1TQ
+44(0)131 455 7367
Google map: bit.ly/p2NMgS
Edinburgh isn't exactly a city that hides its charms: a castle bang in the centre of town atop dramatic cliffs, a gothic skyline, a cobbled old town crammed full of tourist shops, a Georgian 'New Town' of refined restaurants and leafy squares, and several celebrated museums and galleries.
However, if you tire of tourists and want to seek real, everyday Edinburgh, consider a trip to the district just south-west of the city centre. Tollcross isn't what you would call beautiful, but is home to some of the city's finest ethnic restaurants (such as Number 1 Sushi and Lai Thai), as well as the King's Theatre and the Cameo Cinema. One of the finest arthouse cinemas in the country, the Cameo is both atmospheric and cheap, and with several screens offers something for every discerning cinema goer, as well as a much loved bar seeping with old-world atmosphere. The Beckett Pub nearby is similarly atmospheric, and neighbourhood newcomer, Cuckoo's Nest offers some of the cities best value for money drinks (particularly the cocktails).
Heading up the hill, you reach the Bruntsfield Links on your left, and beyond spectacular views across the Meadows to the Castle, Old Town and Arthur's Seat. Bruntsfield itself is one of the city's loveliest districts, a pleasing mixture of vibrant student district and upscale residential neighbourhood. Its main drag is home to several quality restaurants and bars, as well as a handful of intriguing shops, especially for foodies.
Coco's is arguably Edinburgh's best chocolatier, and sits near to a branch of Peckham's delicatessen and an extravagant cake shop. For those who wish to continue, the main road heads down into extremely well-heeled Morningside (though the shopping strip is perhaps a little underwhelming), and neighbouring the Grange and Merchiston, all of which are home to some beautiful Victorian villas on their leafy streets, and are a pleasure to stroll around.
Tollcross is at the southern end of Lothian Road, a ten-fifteen minute walk from all parts of central Edinburgh. The main road, Gilmore Place-Bruntsfield Place leads up the hill to Bruntsfield and then round towards Morningside. Multiple buses to all of these neighbourhoods, see Lothian Buses website.
If up near the castle it is well worth wandering down through the Grass Market as a previous reader has remarked. Where the road continues into West Port there are some splendid shops tourists might not otherwise find. Just by walking a bit more I came across a wonderful shop, Cabaret Antiques and Curios, which is spread over two floors and has an extraordinary selection of antiques, knick knacks, curios, books and other treasures. I found presents for several people in here and the prices seemed very reasonable. The owners seem happy for you to browse and take your time. It was an unexpected surprise and proves it is well worth exploring sometimes away from the usual tourist areas. Edinburgh is definitely a city for walking and exploring, especially the old town bit all around the castle which so dominates the city.
137 West Port
0131 229 4100
From the antique grandeur of the Old Town to the cold classical beauty of the New Town, this is the most beautiful city in Europe.
I am a Canadian who visits every January. The weather is not unpleasant: last year there were days and days of glorious sunshine.
The best place to stay is in the Old Town. This is where all the real-life characters of the city hang out. Sit on a bench in Hunter Square or one close to St Giles and just observe the people. Walk down the High Street from the castle to Holyrood.
A great place to eat is Always Sunday close to the Fringe Office, spend Friday/Saturday night listening to the band at the small Scotsman Lounge on Cockburn.
See you there...
Visit Edinburgh in the middle of winter - at Christmas or at New Year...?
Yes, and I recommend it!
The locals are full of bonhomie; every pub or eatery with a fireplace is welcoming; and the locals, who act as tourist guides at the castle and other touristy places, are happy to see you and have a chat.
Crowds? No ... have have the castle and the whisky tours all to yourself.
You can even venture out of town and maybe have a hit at St Andrews ('cos there is noone else there playing).
There is also the added bonus of Scottish New Year celebrations. Something everyone should do at least once in a lifetime: Hogmanay.
Downside? It's cold - very cold; sleeting and snowing, but hey, nothing a couple of jackets, coats, mufflers, gloves and hats can't fix.
Seriously: go and visit in winter;
it is a different place.
Take an al fresco jaunt with chilled drinking vessels to The Meadows. Get great views of the city skyline on raised grassy knolls where beer and good company can enjoy the respite in Scottish summer weather - welcome global warming (just kidding)!
It’s a popular and well-known area of green in the centre-south of the city - 5 minutes from the George IV Bridge and student area – a 10 minute walk from Princes Street.
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org