Scotland's capital city is a fine place for walkers with canals, mountains, country parks and coast to enjoy. Highlights include the geologically fascinating Holyrood Park with the climb to Arthur's Seat a must for hiking fans. The views over the city to the coast are a splendid sight.
For an easier, waterside walk try the Union Canal which runs through the city to Falkirk.
Please use the links below to view full route information including descriptions, elevation profiles, interactive maps and GPS downloads.
You can also view an overview map of all the routes in the using the Edinburgh Walk Map
|Almondell and Calderwood Country Park||3 miles (5 km)||Explore 220 acres of country park near Broxburn on this easy cycle or walk. In the park you will find peaceful woodland and a lovely waterside trail running along the River Almond. Almondell is a haven for wildlife - look out for Roe deer, fox, heron, otters and woodpeckers as you make your way through the park.|
Also of interest is the excellent Visitor Centre with displays, a gallery, information and a conservatory with a cafe.
If you would like to continue your outing you could head north to the Union Canal. You could follow the towpath east into Edinburgh on foot or bike. View Full Details>>
|Arthur's Seat||3 miles (4.5 km)||This is a hugely popular climb to the peak of Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh's Holyrood Park. It's a fairly challenging hike with the hill reaching a height of 251 m (823 ft) at the top. Here you can enjoy panoramic views of the city, the coast and the surrounding mountains. |
The site is geologically significant being part of the Arthur's Seat Volcano site of special scientific interest. Like the rock on which Edinburgh Castle is built, the hill was formed by an extinct volcano system of the Carboniferous age, which was then eroded by a glacier about 350 million years ago.
The shortest route to the top is from the Dunsapie Loch, just to the east of the hill. There's a car park there and trails leading up from the loch to the peak, which is a short distance away. This longer circular route climbs to Arthur's seat from Holyrood Palace, just to the north of the hill.
Starting from the car park near the palace, you first bear east before turning west and climbing along Salisbury Crags. There's some fine views back down to the palace from here with the Scottish Parliament and the Firth of Forth also visible on a clear day.
After passing along the crags you pass Gutted Haddie before coming to the summit which is the site of a hill fort. After taking in the wide ranging views you descend towards the remains of St Anthony's Chapel. The atmospheric ruins stand on a rocky outcrop above St Margaret's Loch, commanding excellent views over North Edinburgh, Leith and the River Forth.
From the chapel you continue the descent to St Margaret's Loch where you will see lots of ducks, geese and swans on the water. You then pass the natural spring at St Margaret's Well, before returning to the car park. Near here you can also visit the fascinating Dynamic Earth visitor attraction. The principal focus of Dynamic Earth is to facilitate a better public understanding of the processes that have shaped the Earth (known as earth science). This includes the Big Bang, abiogenesis, plate tectonics and glaciation.
To continue your walking in the area you could head north west and enjoy another climb to Calton Hill. The hill is home to a number of significant monuments and the City Observatory.
Also nearby are Bonaly Country Park and Dalkeith Country Park where there's more nice walking and cycling trails to try. In the parks there's nice woodland trails, reservoirs and riverside paths to enjoy. View Full Details>>
|Bonaly Country Park||5 miles (8 km)||This country park is located a few miles to the south of Edinburgh city centre. The park features cycle and walking trails taking you through woodland and open moorland to a series of reservoirs. There are excellent views of the Pentland Hills, Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Firth of Forth from the park. |
The park is located near to the Water of Leith where you will find a lovely,waterside cycling and walking path. This leads to the Union Canal which you can follow into the centre of Edinburgh.
Also nearby is the climb to Arthur's Seat. This splendid hike is a real highlight of the area, commanding fine views over city and the coast. View Full Details>>
|Calton Hill||1 miles (1 km)||Enjoy a short walk to Calton Hill in Edinburgh and enjoy lovely views across the city to the coast. It's a short and fairly easy climb with the hill also home to a number of significant monuments and the City Observatory.|
The walk starts at the western end of the hill, next to Regent Road. Here you will find the Dugald Stewart Monument, dedicated to the Scottish philosopher. Dugald Stewart was a professor at the University of Edinburgh, holding the chair of moral philosophy from 1786 until his death. From the monument follow the path east to the Nelson Monument, paid for by public subscription and erected on the hill in 1816. You can climb the spiral staircase for enhanced views along Princes Street below. There's also a path off to the side which you can follow to the south viewpoint. This route continues to the National Monument, Scotland's national memorial to the Scottish soldiers and sailors who died fighting in the Napoleonic Wars. The structure is modelled on the Parthenon in Athens but due to the lack of funds, was left unfinished in 1829. From here there are wonderful views to the Firth of Forth, Arthur's Seat, Salisbury Crags and Holyrood Park.
The walk continues past the monument and heads along Hulme Walk to the North Viewpoint before heading towards the City Observatory. The astronomical observatory was established in 1776 and includes a fine old gothic tower in the southwest corner. The central building is designed in the style of a Greek temple and houses the 6-inch (15 cm) refractor in its dome and the 6.4-inch (16 cm) transit telescope.
To extend your walking in the area, head south east and visit Holyrood Park where you can climb to Arthur's Seat. The park is only a 10 minute walk from Calton Hill and includes several small lochs, a ruined chapel and the fascinating Dynamic Earth. The principal focus of Dynamic Earth is to facilitate a better public understanding of the processes that have shaped the Earth (known as earth science). This includes the Big Bang, abiogenesis, plate tectonics and glaciation. View Full Details>>
|Dalkeith Country Park||3 miles (5 km)||This large country park near Edinburgh has a number of excellent walking and cycling paths. The waymarked walking trails run through the ancient oak woodland and along the River Esk which runs through the park. Cyclists can follow the miles of estate roads and then follow a lovely off road path along the River Esk to Musselburgh on the coast.|
Look out for an abundance of wildlife including deer, foxes, herons and otters.
To extend your walking in the area you could head into Holyrood Park in the city and climb to Arthur's Seat. This splendid hike is a real highlight of the area, commanding fine views over city and the coast. Also nearby is Bonaly Country Park where there are more good cycling and walking trails to try. View Full Details>>
|Harlaw Reservoir||2 miles (3 km)||This easy walk visits Harlaw Reservoir, near Edinburgh. The site is located near Balerno, about 8 miles south-west of the city centre. It's a lovely, peaceful area with nice views of the surrounding Pentland Hills.|
The reservoir has a nice 2 mile footpath running around the perimiter. You can park at the visitor centre car park at the northern end of the water. From here it is a short stroll to the footpath which runs through the waterside woodland. You can extend the walk by heading along the footpath to the adjacent Threipmuir Reservoir.
To continue your exercise, simply head to Balermo and pick up the Water of Leith Walkway. It's a great way to explore the city on a well surfaced cycling and walking trail.
If you'd like to continue your reservoir walking then you could head towards Livingston and visit Cobbinshaw Reservoir where there's some lovely views and wildfowl to look out for. View Full Details>>
|Roslin Glen Country Park||2 miles (3.5 km)||Enjoy a super cycle or walk along the River North Esk in this country park in Midlothian. You will pass along the Penicuik to Musselburgh cycle/walkway which makes use of disused railway lines. It's ideal for a peaceful off road cycle or walk, taking you through wooded glens with views of the rushing River North Esk as you go. You will also pass a number of interesting historical sites including Rosslyn Chapel, Roslin Castle, Wallace's Cave and Hawthornden Castle.|
The park is excellent for wildlife with otters, kingfishers and dippers around the river. Look out for buzzards, woodpeckers and badgers in the gorge woodland area. Owls, field voles and butterflies can be seen in the pretty meadows and grasslands.
Roslin Glen is located about 7 miles south of Edinburgh city centre, near Pencuik. View Full Details>>
|Union Canal||31 miles (50 km)||Follow the Union Canal towpath from Falkirk to Edinburgh on this super, waterside cycling and walking route. The route follows National Cycle Network Routes 75 and 754 so is well signed throughout. At Falkirk you can link up with the Forth and Clyde Canal which will take you into Glasgow. |
The route starts at Falkirk near the train station and follows the canal to Linlithgow, passing Polmont and Muiravonside Country Park. Here you will find 170 acres of woodland and parkland with views of the River Avon. Also in Linlithgow you'll pass the splendid Beecraigs Country Park which has miles of woodland cycling and walking trails. You can also enjoy a stroll around Linlithgow Loch.
The next section runs from Linlithgow to Ratho, passing farmland, woodland and the settlements of Broxburn, Winchburgh and Philpstoun. You also pass the Almond Aqueduct which carries the canal 23 metres above the wooded River Almond gorge. Not far from here you will find the pretty Almondell and Calderwood Country Park with peaceful woodland and a lovely waterside trail running along the River Almond.
The final section takes you from Ratho in Edinburgh. The first few miles take you through farmland before entering the suburbs of Edinburgh. You soon come to Slateford Aqueduct which carries the canal over the Water of Leith. It is the second largest aqueduct in Scotland at 180 metres long and 18 metres tall. The route ends at Lochrin Basin in the city centre of Edinburgh. View Full Details>>
|Vogrie Country Park||2 miles (4 km)||Explore this beautiful Victorian Parkland Estate located in the heart of the Midlothian countryside. The park contains several walking and cycling trails taking you through the acres of woodland and parkland which surround the baronial-styled Vogrie House. There are several pretty water features to enjoy with ponds, burns and the River Tyne running through the park. Also make time to visit the pretty walled garden and the Rookery.|
The peaceful woodland contains a variety of different trees including Oak, Rowan and Red Cedar. It's a haven for wildlife so look out for Jay, Nuthatch and Woodpeckers.
Vogrie has several additional attractions with a nine hole golf course, miniature railway and the Cedar Tree Cafe. There is also a Ranger Service which organises guided walks through the grounds.
The estate is located about 10 miles south east of Edinburgh, near Dalkieth. View Full Details>>
|Water of Leith||12 miles (20 km)||This waterside cycling and walking trail follows the Water of Leith through Edinburgh. The route runs for just over 12 miles from Balerno to Leith along the small river. It's a nice flat path, ideal for cyclists looking for an easy ride, or walkers after an easy waterside stroll. Along the way there's lots of pretty waterfalls and weirs with wildlife such as herons to look out for.|
The access point for the start of the walk is at Balerno School on Bridge Road. You then follow the path in a north easterly direction, passing Currie, Juniper Green and Colinton Dell. Around here you will pass Redhall Mill and the accompanying mill cottages, with woodland and weirs to enjoy. Shortly after you will come to Slateford where you can explore The Water of Leith visitor centre. This is another good access point for the walk as there is a small car park and interesting exhibits about the walk in the centre. From here you pass under the aquaduct carrying the Union Canal and the viaduct carrying the railway.
You continue through Saughton to Murrayfield where you will pass Murrayfield Stadium, home to Scottish rugby. The walk then heads through the delightful Dean Village. This area is one of the real highlights of the route, with some wonderful Georgian architecture and the Scottish National Galleries of Modern Art.
The next stage takes you under the 19th century Telford Dean Bridge to St Bernard's Well, where there is a Roman temple-style folly and a statue of Hygeia, Goddess of Health. You continue to Stockbridge where you will find the lovely Royal Botanic Gardens. The garden's living collection consists of more than 13,302 plant species, whilst the herbarium contains in excess of 3 million preserved specimens.
The final section takes you through Bonnington to the finish point at North Leith, near to the docks of the Port of Leath.
If you would like to extend your walking in the area then the walking trail around Harlaw Reservoir in Balerno is a good option. Around Slateford the river joins with the Union Canal which has a nice waterside walking and cycling trail. View Full Details>>