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Cycling The Water of Leith

Edinburgh's hidden river.

(Last Updated On: January 8, 2018) 

Did you know Edinburgh has a river running through it? Surprisingly, not many people do. And since it has the rather strange name of ‘The Water of Leith’, you’d be excused for confusing it with a local utility company if you did happen to hear of it anyway.

It wasn’t until a neighbor introduced me to it after I’d been living here for quite a few months that I was set straight. Now you can often find me on The Water of Leith path because it’s the perfect place for a bike ride; accessible from many places in the city, ridiculously pretty and most exciting for me, there’s barely any uphills.


This is my neighbor’s idea of going for a little bike ride. I can honestly say a new friendship has never hurt so much, so quickly.

Edinburgh is a very cycle friendly city and visitors should be encouraged to hire a bike and explore sides of it I’m sure many miss out on. The Water of Leith is one of the prettiest and most historically interesting of the city’s many nature-tastic paths. The river starts in the nearby Pentland Hills, but most join the walkway from Roseburn or Haymarket (or you take your pick from other spots along the path) and go as far as their legs will take them. The most popular section is Roseburn to Stockbridge, but anyone with reasonable fitness can go all the way to Leith itself, where the river runs into the north Sea.

A lot of the path looks like this…

The Water of Leith

Well, obviously that’s not the path, that’s the river next to the path. There’s also this…

The Water of Leith

You can stop off at the Gallery of Modern Art through this cool back entrance.

The Water of Leith

You’ll go under stunning bridges left over from ye olden railway days…

The Water of Leith

There’s a bit you can pretend is a waterfall…

The Water of Leith

And at one point you go past this ugly place… Dean Village.

Dean Village

The Water of Leith Walkway is a mixture of dirt track, paved path, and cobblestones. At certain points the track ends and you need to cross the river along small bridges, and at others there are posted diversions due to conservation. Whilst the path isn’t terribly busy, you’ll pass by people out for a stroll, walking their dogs, or simply taking a break and enjoying the surrounds, so if you’re cycling you’ll need to slow down in certain spots.

The Water of Leith, as in the river, has oodles of historical importance, more of which you can read about here.

But for now, trust me, when you get to Edinburgh, get on yer bike!

Stuff to Know

Grease Monkey Cycles is the closest bike rental shop to the Roseburn entry of the river path. As their location isn’t right in the center of town, you might want to take advantage of their free delivery. If you’re starting in Leith, the Leith Cycle Company is where you should head.

Download a basic map of the Water of Leith Walkway. For up-to-date information on the path, check out the Water of Leith Conservation Trust website.

Bits of this post were taken from an article I did for the Matador Network.

The Roseburn starting point of The Water of Leith Walkway is below.

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2 Comments on Cycling The Water of Leith

  1. Great post! This has to be one of our favourite cycle routes in Edinburgh.

    • Natalie DeWinter // October 5, 2014 at 4:48 pm //

      Thanks guys 🙂 I plan to add more rides as I go, but yeah this one’s very pretty. And not too hard either. Bonus!

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