Here it is, my top 5 walks and cycles about Edinburgh over the past year:
1. Leith – Edinburgh Botanic Gardens
You can walk this in just under an hour, from the end of North Junction St. out along Ferry Rd, turning off at Inverleith or Arboretum Avenue. Ferry Road is busy, but Inverleith is calmer and the Botanics themselves are a joy! I have never walked there without it lifting my spirits, even in the middle of Winter. Extend the walk out the John Hope Gate and into town via Dean Village and Stockbridge. If you’re passing through on a Sunday morning check out the Stockbridge farmer’s market.
From Leith you can walk to Holyrood Park in an hour at a brisk pace. Arthur’s seat is a wonderful (if sometimes crowded) place to take a breather and gain some perspective. Coming off the hill follow Queen’s Drive and connect with Duddingston Low Rd, or the signposted path to Duddingston Loch- this little oasis of calm in the heart of the city is a bird sanctuary.
3. Leith to Cramond cycle
This is about 6 miles each way. I did this via Ferry Road to Davidson’s Mains, but there is a cycle path that takes you along the coast via Granton. Cramond is a charming and affluent village (now more of a suburb) at the mouth of the River Almond where it enters the Firth of Forth. Archaeological evidence suggests it is one of Britain’s earliest settlements and the remains of a Roman fort can be seen in the parkland. Cramond Island is a tidal islet which can be reached on foot via a causeway at low tide. It gets a mention in Kate Atkinson’s One Good Turn.
3. Leith to Musselburgh cycle via Portobello
Again, about 6 miles either way but a very pleasant coastal cycle- out of Leith via Seafield, Portobello and Joppa. You can avoid the A1 and most of Portobello High Street by following the promenade, but look out for joggers and dogs.
4. Balerno reservoirs
Take a 44 bus from Princes St to Balerno (about 40 minutes) and walk up through the village- follow signs for Pentlands Regional Park. You can take any number of routes up into the Pentlands from here, but the three reservoirs and the Red Moss can be done in a couple of hours. Take food or pick some up in the local co-op, there is only one pub serving food in Balerno (The Grey Horse) and the kitchen was closed on the day I was there.
5. Water of Leith walk
I’ve only walked a section of this, from the city centre to Leith, in parts the path is difficult to find and not fully developed (and I can imagine a little bit dodgy if you’re on your own) but stretches of it are very beautiful, particularly about Stockbridge. The entire route is 12 miles long and runs from the back of Balerno High School so I will be revisiting.