THIS column is dedicated to walking and ramblers’ groups from across Scotland, where they can suggest the best routes to enjoy from their areas and further afield.

Water of Leith Walkway: Currie to Slateford

By Gail Cousins, Balerno Ramblers

Start: Currie Library, 210 Lanark Road West, Currie, EH14 5NX

Distance: Four miles/6.5 kilometres

Time: 2 hours to 2.5 hours

Terrain: Mostly level unsurfaced walkway path with two sets of steps. The path can be muddy in places if wet.

Level: Suitable for all ages.

Access: By car on A70 from Edinburgh, M8 to Hermiston Gait, then follow signs to Edinburgh City West, A71, Heriot Watt University and south towards Currie on Riccarton Mains Road.

At the top of the hill turn right onto Lanark Road A70 and Currie Library will be on your right. By No 44 bus travelling from Edinburgh, alight at Currie Post Office stop, opposite Currie Library.

What makes it special: A woodland dell walk, tunnel, eye-catching artwork, history and wildlife.

A GENTLE four-mile woodland walk from Currie to Slateford following the Water of Leith downstream and the former Balerno railway line via Colinton Tunnel close to Colinton Village – a childhood haunt of Robert Louis Stevenson whose maternal grandfather Dr Lewis Balfour was the minister of the parish church.

The 150-yard-long Colinton Tunnel, once poorly lit and covered in graffiti, has had a makeover thanks to a community art project. The colourful mural describes Stevenson’s poem From a Railway Carriage. The poem’s verses are written on the tunnel walls, illustrated by colourful paintings.

HeraldScotland: Colinton Tunnel on the Water of Leith Walkway: Currie to Slateford walking route. Picture: Gail Cousins/Balerno RamblersColinton Tunnel on the Water of Leith Walkway: Currie to Slateford walking route. Picture: Gail Cousins/Balerno Ramblers

The Balerno line opened in 1874 as a transport link for millworkers and supplies for what was, at that time, 37 mills located along the river.

In 1791, there had been an incredible 76 mills producing timber, flour, paper, linen, wool, snuff, spice and more. Although the mills are now no longer in use, the remains of the weirs and lades that powered them can still be seen.

The railway line closed in 1967 and is now a popular walking and cycling route as part of the Water of Leith Walkway.

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Despite being a predominately urban river there is an opportunity to see grey wagtails, dippers, kingfishers, herons, and otters. Along the route look out for postcard-sized plaques called “river rubbings” placed by the Water of Leith Conservation Trust in 2001.

Route: Beginning at Currie Library, cross the A70 towards the bus shelter. The path leading to the Water of Leith begins with a gentle sloping lane, turn right over the stone bridge, and climb the steps to the former railway line.

HeraldScotland: A mural at the Colinton Station platform on the Water of Leith Walkway: Currie to Slateford walking route. Picture: Gail Cousins/Balerno RamblersA mural at the Colinton Station platform on the Water of Leith Walkway: Currie to Slateford walking route. Picture: Gail Cousins/Balerno Ramblers

Here you will have a good view of Currie Kirk. Turn left and head east along the former railway line. In 200 metres, locate the stone on the left near the descending steps for the “St Mungo’s Well” river rubbing.

Follow the walkway towards Juniper Green, another mill village. Scottish Water is undertaking pipe laying construction work, so there is a detour off to the left up Baberton Loan to Lanark Road.

HeraldScotland: One of the weirs on the Water of Leith Walkway: Currie to Slateford walking route. Picture: Gail Cousins/Balerno RamblersOne of the weirs on the Water of Leith Walkway: Currie to Slateford walking route. Picture: Gail Cousins/Balerno Ramblers

It is well signposted and within 200m take the pathway to the right to descend back to the walkway. After a further 200m look out for the second river rubbing “Mills” on the right and the end of a short stone wall after a wooden fence.

The walkway goes under the A720 City Bypass. Stop at the weir and see if the heron is there. West Mill was the site of Scott’s Porage Oats mill but is now a luxury apartment block. In a short distance lookout for the gap in the wall signposted “Spylaw Park”. Take a break, sit on a seat, and enjoy the park.

Continue your walk eastwards to the former Colinton Station, under the arches for Colinton Bridge. Then Colinton Tunnel. Take time to read the poem on the information board and view it alongside the colourful illustrations that line the tunnel walls. Have your picture taken with angel wings.

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Stay on the walkway until you reach a green finger post that reads “Slateford via Canal” and “Slateford via Dells”. Go right to Slateford via Dells. Keep following the river, cross a stone bridge and go left following “Slateford” signs.

The path goes past a domed grotto overlooking a small waterfall. The grotto was built in the 18th century by Dr Alexander Munro to provide visitors to his estate with a spot to stop and rest.

HeraldScotland: The grotto on the Water of Leith Walkway: Currie to Slateford walking route. Picture: Gail Cousins/Balerno RamblersThe grotto on the Water of Leith Walkway: Currie to Slateford walking route. Picture: Gail Cousins/Balerno Ramblers

Continue to follow the path through the dell until you reach Lanark Road. Across the road is the Water of Leith visitor centre, open 10am to 4pm, which sells maps, refreshments and has interesting displays about the route and river. Also: toilets.

On the wall by the outdoor seating area you will find the third river rubbing “Place of the Bridges”. To return to Currie, catch the No 44 bus.

Don’t miss: Taking a fun photograph with the angel wings at Colinton Tunnel.

HeraldScotland: Gail Cousins from Balerno Ramblers beside the angel wings mural on the Water of Leith Walkway: Currie to Slateford walking route. Picture: Gail Cousins/Balerno RamblersGail Cousins from Balerno Ramblers beside the angel wings mural on the Water of Leith Walkway: Currie to Slateford walking route. Picture: Gail Cousins/Balerno Ramblers

Useful information: Balerno Ramblers has a rolling programme of midweek and weekend walks in the Edinburgh area and further afield as travel restrictions have eased. Walks are open to members and non-members but must be booked in advance. New members are always welcome.

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If you are interested in joining, they have a mailing list with information on forthcoming walks. For more information and contact details, visit the Balerno Ramblers page on Ramblers website: ramblers.org.uk/balerno

  • Do you have a walk you would like to suggest? Email susan.swarbrick@theherald.co.uk