Thursday 10 February 2022

Scotland By Rail - Edinburgh Haymarket to Redhall Walled Garden along the Union Canal & Water of Leith

Water of Leith and red wall of Redhall
(Walled Garden).
Hoping for a Kingfisher or Dipper.

A three mile walk from Edinburgh Haymarket to Redhall Walled Garden. Almost entirely traffic-free along the very well-walked and safe feeling Union Canal & Water of Leith. At a fast speed I with long legs can manage it in a bit over an hour. I prefer taking much longer and enjoying all there is to see -including cafe at Water of Leith Visitor Centre!

Get off the train at Haymarket, a great one for train watching with four-year-olds. These are the views looking west and east from the station concourse:


It's hard to remember now just how much smaller and darker Haymarket used to be. It's my favourite of all the big station renovations. These two pics show the old stone building and how it was incorporated into the new:

There's loads of bike parking space outside:

From Haymarket turn right past historic Ryrie's Bar (interesting reading about its past here) and a huge construction site gradually shutting away the sky. Walk a short way along Dalry Road past an excellent Shelter shop then turn left up pedestrianised Dalry Place past the house where I spend the first two years of my life:

At the top of Dalry Place turn right and curve round with Morrison Crescent until you reach the lights taking you safely across the nasty Western Approach Road:

A good bit of urban tree planting as you walk straight ahead along McEwan Square (though more tall buildings have recently stolen the sky) but sadly sadly a lot of these are ash trees and last year were looking pretty unwell:

Cross Fountainbridge / Dundee Street (turning right takes you to cinema and bowling) and walk uphill up Gilmore Park. Edinburgh Printmakers is on your right with a great cafe and print Viewing Rooms:


The Canal

At the top of Gilmore Park is the Union Canal and the historic Leamington Lift Bridge:

And an info board about the area's canal, coal, rubber and breweries:

From here it's easy - turn right and walk along the Union Canal westwards for two miles until you reach the Slateford aqueduct. 

On the way there's all this to enjoy:

first glimpse of the Pentland Hills

Harrison Park looks a great one with open space, tree planting, dog-free playparks  and community events

A lot of watersports take place along this stretch:

And so many back gardens to enjoy!

A Cormorant was looking for fish just here:

canal crossing railway

If you're out of time you can at this point leave the canal and walk a short way to Slateford station.
Trains from Slateford run only hourly.

But you'd miss some more great gardens (and Wood pigeons):

Wood pigeon

And Goldfinches bathing:

And some extremely good beeches (the best type of tree):

And the Slateford Aqueduct:

Once you've walked over the aqueduct and back (of course you must) head down these steps to the Water of Leith:

Note the trough on the right for wheeling bikes up and down. If only all steps were this thoughtful.


The River

You're on the Water of Leith now!

Turn left for the Water of Leith Visitor Centre and the rest of our walk to Redhall Walled Garden:

The Water of Leith Visitor Centre is a lovely, small, free to enter centre with cafe, toilets, info to read, hands-on displays for the little and big ones, local books to buy.

Very useful map of the whole Water of Leith walkway from Balerno to Leith. Only £1.

and an audio trail -

Here's how to donate to the work of the Water of Leith Conservation Trust:

Leave the Visitor Centre and cross your second really not nice road, Lanark Road, at the lights. The Water of Leith walkway continues just to the left of the lights. 

Here on the ground twists a silver trail:

An intriguing woven enclosure, not yet finished, no gap for an entrance.

well-trodden path

There are various paths. To find a grotto stick to the low one.

To find where a Dipper once was look for little white patches on stones in the river:

Or maybe it was a Grey wagtail.

This is the bridge which takes you over the water to Redhall:

The yellow flowers of Lesser celandine are really beautiful but it's their leaves I love most of all.

I made time to sketch. No Kingfisher came, and no Dipper.

Sketch and picnic lunch over, back to the walk. You've crossed the bridge, now turn left and walk with river on your left and red wall of Redhall on your right. Under that gateway:

Here's Redhall Walled Garden where I am currently running art sessions.

Redhall Walled Garden is "a therapeutic horticultural project for SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) based in a beautiful walled garden.

The project works to improve... mental health and wellbeing through gardening and a variety of outdoor tasks... a supportive environment for learning skills in IT, horticulture, being more active, spending time in nature and working alongside others."

Visitors are welcome at Redhall Walled Garden, 9am-4pm Monday to Friday.

The garden is not open at weekends.

The inside of the garden will be the subject of my next Scotland By Rail blog post.


Getting back to the centre of Edinburgh:

- walk back to Haymarket the way you came.

- walk to Slateford or Kingsknowe station, each about a 15 minute walk from the walled garden. Trains from these stations are usually hourly - check your journey in advance on ScotRail website or app -

- get one of various buses from previously mentioned not nice road, Lanark Road


Thank you for reading my Scotland By Rail blog. Please share with anyone who might be interested and let me know if there are any railway days out you recommend me to try. 

1 comment:

  1. What a great blog-of-a-walk. You have inspired me. I shared to Facebook!