With the nights drawing in and the Hallowe’en month of ghouls, goblins and guising nearly upon us, why not indulge your creepy side with a walk through some of Scotland’s tunnels, hewn out of the rock to carry trains or canal boats?

Alternatively, simply enjoy a series of routes of varying degrees of difficulty which have been re-purposed as walk- or cycleways.


Although never that spectacular in its own right – at 140 metres it isn’t even that long – this railway tunnel in the south of Edinburgh has come into its own since mural artist Chris Rutterford undertook the mother of all makeovers.

Today, the tunnel is a tourist attraction in its own right thanks to its entire length being decorated with one jaw-dropping mural after another, such as the one which features words from Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem From A Railway Carriage.

The Herald: http://www.colintontunnel.org.uk/http://www.colintontunnel.org.uk/

Another shows a train at a crowded railway platform and is a reference to a mural of a train known as the Balerno Pug which was painted when the tunnel was re-opened in 1980. Located close to the site of the old Colinton Station, which operated from 1874 to 1967, the route is now part of the Water Of Leith Walkway and is popular with walkers, cyclists, joggers and the ever-present dog-walkers.


Located just outside Peebles, this was once part of the Symington, Biggar and Broughton Railway line, which was begun in 1858. The tunnel, which opened in 1864, was required in large part because Lord Elgin owned the land the railway ran across and made the construction of a tunnel a condition of his supporting the project.

The tunnel itself is 500 metres long and unlit, so do take a torch. Plus there’s a tight bend so it’s one of those where at one point you actually can’t see either end.

Railway nerds take note: the tunnellers employed a distinctive horseshoe-shaped bore and there’s an uncorroborated (and utterly unverifiable) story that during the Second World War the tunnel was intended as a hiding place for the royal train.


At 630 metres the longest canal tunnel built in Scotland, the Falkirk Tunnel carries the Union Canal into the heart of Edinburgh.

Today it’s lit with coloured lights and is quite the tourist attraction. With 200 years of history to its name it comes with some colourful histories attached: notorious killers Burke and Hare both worked on it during its construction, for example.


There are two tunnels, north and south, each of around 450 metres. There’s a similar distance between them and both once formed part of the Glenfarg Line, which opened in 1890 and was part of the same project which resulted in the main Edinburgh to Perth line.

The southern tunnel is a doable without a torch (just) but the northern tunnel is a continuous bend so a flashlight is recommended. As well as two tunnels, walkers can enjoy a viaduct and the odd burned out car.

St Leonards

Part of the Innocent Railway which once ran from Edinburgh Waverley to Dalkeith – and so-called apparently because there were never any fatal accidents on the line – the railway tunnel at St Leonards in the south of the capital is believed to be the oldest in Scotland, having been begun in 1827 and used to transport coal from Dalkeith to a depot at St Leonards.

Railway nerds will be keen to learn that its five hundred metre length is carved through volcanic rock (you’re not very far from Arthur’s Seat), lined with Craigleith sandstone and its semi-circular cross-sectional top is twenty feet wide and fifteen feet high at the crown.

Once lit by gas lamps it now has electric lights and forms part of an excellent cycle path which will take you all the way to Musselburgh should that be your heart’s desire.