Tuesday 8 November 2022

Scotland By Rail - Edinburgh - a walk from Waverley to the shore and Wardie Bay breakwater

Diver & Inchkeith Island from Granton breakwater, Wardie Bay, Edinburgh. Soft pastel on pastel paper

Wherever I go and whenever possible I try to make some time and space for nature. I'm almost always travelling by public transport and I believe that makes it easier, not harder, to get yourself into a little bit of green. By car it's so easy to step out of your house and straight into your car bubble then out of your car bubble and straight into wherever you were going, no experiencing anything along the way.

By public transport it's different.

If it's a place I've never been to, perhaps to attend an appointment or run a workshop in a new place or deliver work to a new gallery, I make a point of checking the Ordnance Survey map and Google maps (on Satellite view - look for green) for places near to my route which I could walk to or through. Rather than doing as Google tells me I'll get off the train a stop early, or the bus five minutes early, have a bit of a walk to complete the journey. Or after my appointment I'll give myself half an hour in a local park with my lunch or a book or my sketchbook, or just my binoculars.

Being like this makes such a difference to my day, to my contentment levels. To my life.

If it's a place I'm familiar with, such as Edinburgh which is 'my city', I already have a strong idea of what's where and where I might detour to. I likely don't need to check a map, just think, "I'm due in 'x' at such and such a time, I'll catch the train an hour early so I can walk along rather than get the bus. But I still get surprises, find spots I never knew. This time it was Wardie Bay and the Granton Harbour breakwater.

I had paintings to deliver to the Edinburgh Macmillan Art Show, raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support, in the Tattoo Office at the bottom of Cockburn Street, right by Waverley Station. And paintings to collect from St Columba's Hospice, 2.6 miles to the north (Google says so), right on the shore at Granton.

I knew I could get the no.16 bus the whole way down, taking maybe 40 minutes depending on traffic, or I could walk down, taking maybe an hour, depending how many cafes and charity shops I stopped at. It was a truly gorgeous autumn day. Edinburgh looks perfect in that weather. 

Here's what I ended up finding, a spot I never knew. 3min 40sec video:

And this is my walk:

From Waverley Station I walked through the new pretty impressive St James Quarter and down Broughton Street.

Past Mansfield Traquair, have you ever been in?

You should to see the Phoebe Anna Traquair murals inside

East Claremont Street and Bellevue Terrace

here you can go straight ahead down Canonmills or right onto Broughton Road to join the network of old Edinburgh railways - now brilliant walk and cycle ways

This is turning right and onto the path network. From here it's traffic free, and green green green almost all the way to the shore.

But I felt like walking the Edinburgh streets while they we were looking so beautiful, and there was a charity shop I wanted to visit a bit further on. So I continued down Canonmills:

over the Water of Leith at Canonmills

Inverleith Row. People allowing trees to be trees! I love this.

Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, East Gate

Botanics entrance and signposts showing so many places to walk and cycle

Wonderful! We all need to be much more like this.

Still Inverleith Row. It's a lonnnnnnnnnng, straight road with very picturesque buildings, good gardens...

great side streets too

at the end turn right onto Ferry Road.
(good charity shop just visible on the right here and cafes not far behind me)

then left onto South Trinity Road, and straight on until pretty much at the shore

passing another way down onto the Edinburgh railway path network

path network - connects so many parts of Edinburgh. trees all the way

still on South Trinity Road, a lovely place to walk

South Trinity Road becomes Stirling Road

past St Columba's Hospice Care
(they have a really nice cafe, - The Iona Cafe - open to all)
and down to the shore.

I emerged onto the shore road and wide traffic free path, spend a good while just looking then noticed a breakwater sticking out on the left, and that people were walking on it. I had to go, never mind about getting home later than planned.

panoramic photo showing the whole spread of shore.
Granton Harbour on far left, Newhaven on far right.
Walkway and cycle path runs along here for miles.

Brilliant wildlife watching all along the shore and all along the breakwater.  Seals, dolphins, porpoise and whales all might, at times, be seen from here.

I saw
herring gull
black-headed gull
red-throated diver
black-throated diver
great crested grebe
eider duck
rock pipit
grey wagtail
pied wagtail
feral pigeon

Probably more but I forgot to consciously take note of all species until on the bus back to the station.

Still, 20 bird species without trying. 

Have you ever tried noting all the wildlife you see on a walk / in a day / in your garden / from your office window? 

It's amazing how high the list can get. It's amazing how it makes you start to notice more.


grey wagtail (yes, they are bright yellow underneath)

grey wagtail hopping for flies

at least four turnstones in this photo

what can you spot?

grey heron

red-throated diver

Look, I like this a lot.
Not fencing off a wonderful asset to the community, just trusting people. And lots of people were using it. Sensibly.

Looking to Newhaven from the breakwater

along the breakwater. Fife across the water.

Inchkeith island and waterfront buildings at Newhaven 

two thirds of the way along the breakwater! Stunning

looking back to the shore, Arthur's Seat just visible

Berwick Law, North Berwick

I stopped and sketched. Diver, buoy/beacon/marker thingy, Inchkeith island. Soft pastel.

Here are some of the islands of the Forth you can see from the breakwater and shore:


Inchcolm and Inchcolm Abbey.
Visitable April to October - https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/inchcolm-abbey/

Inchkeith island and lighthouse

Wardie Bay Residents Association on

twitter https://twitter.com/wardiebay

Eventually I dragged myself away and headed home. Lothian Buses number 16 goes all the way from the shore at Granton, heading east, eventually coming along Commercial Street, up the shore (very nice to wander around), up Leith walk and to Princes Street, right by Waverley Station.

Newhaven Harbour, from the top deck of no.16 bus

past the Royal Yacht Britannia

Over the Water of Leith at the Shore, still on the no.16 bus

Why not try a bit more public transport and a bit more room for nature :)


Getting to Edinburgh:

Trains from all over Scotland!

Check ScotRail 'Buy Tickets' in advance of your journey - www.scotrail.co.uk


Thank you for reading my Scotland By Rail blog.

Spread the word and let me know about your own favourite railway days out.

Leo du Feu
ScotRail Community Rail Champion
November 2022

#ScotlandByRail on social media 

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