Not only is Edinburgh blessed with some of the world’s most famous visitor attractions, but the surrounding countryside is also home to some of Scotland’s most stunning hiking routes.
If you’re visiting the city and fancy escaping the squeak of bagpipes or the hustle and bustle of the cobbled streets, why not take a day trip to explore the great outdoors by foot?
We’ve put together our favourite walking routes with some transport tips and the best places to stop for a bite to eat or a victory beer at the finish line.
Whether you’re a fitness freak looking for adventure or you enjoy a gentle wander in the fresh air, Edinburgh has it all. From beautiful strolls through woodlands to spontaneous scrambles in the Pentlands, Edinburgh is a lovely part of the world which everyone needs to explore.
Distance: 12 km
Time: 3-4 hours
The Water of Leith is a stunning stretch of parkland, snaking its way through Edinburgh on its journey from the foothills of the Pentlands to the docks in Leith.
As a protected urban wildlife site, the route attracts some of Scotland’s most diverse wildlife including over 80 different species of birds.
The 12 kilometre stretch between Slateford to Leith is a well-trodden path where locals enjoy tranquil walks along the waterway as they pass the honeypot neighbourhoods of Dean Village and Stockbridge.
If you’re staying in the centre of Edinburgh, the starting point in Slateford is just a 20-minute walk across The Meadows park towards the residential areas of Bruntsfield and Merchiston.
Once you’re finished in Leith, jump on the 16 bus heading to Colinton for a 15-minute journey which drops you right in the centre of town.
If you’re walking on a Sunday, stopping off for a bite to eat at Stockbridge Market is a must.
Artisans from across Scotland set up shop to offer delicious cuisine ranging from gigantic Spanish paellas to Highland cheeses. An hour can easily fly by as you browse the stalls, so be sure to leave plenty of time.
Time: 1.5-2 hours
If you're looking for a family adventure, the enchanting woodland gorge of Rosslyn Glen is a no-brainer.
Wander along the beautiful banks of the North Esk river as you weave your way through dramatic countryside and pass the semi-ruined Rosslyn Castle. The 14th-century fortress was rebuilt following its destruction in 1544 and has since been restored for a second time to open its doors to the public.
Start your walk from Rosslyn Chapel car park and keep the river on your left as you follow its twists and turns before turning back on yourself at the Roslin Gunpowder Factory. From here, head North along a small lane which runs through gorgeous woodland to arrive back in the quaint village of Rosslyn.
Rosslyn is just a 45-minute bus ride from Edinburgh city centre. Hop on the 37 service heading to Penicuik/Deanburn which you can catch from the shop side of Princes Street.
The Original Rosslyn Inn is a family-friendly gastropub which serves honest food and delicious local ales for the perfect end to a stunning walk.
Distance: 18 km
For the more serious walkers out there, this challenging route in the Pentland Hills will take your breath away. If you can handle the tough terrain, dotted with boggy marshes and steep climbs, you’ll be rewarded with extensive views of the surrounding countryside.
Starting at the Gladhouse Reservoir, this circular route takes you over Blackhope Scar, the highest Moorfoot peak at 651 metres. A full map of the route is available here.
We recommend coming prepared with good hiking boots, waterproofs and plenty of supplies to keep energy levels high as you take on this mighty route.
The best way to get to the Gladhouse Reservoir is by car.
Alternatively, you can take the 31 bus, followed by the R5 service to the village of Temple. The reservoir is an hour walk from the village.
After trekking 18 kilometres, we imagine you’ll be pretty hungry. The Horseshoe Inn is the ideal resting place to round off a spectacular day with a wholesome meal, washed down with a hard-earned real ale or three.
Here at Edinburgh Flats, we have a wonderful selection of holiday apartments located in the heart of Edinburgh.
If you’re looking for the perfect base to explore the city and its stunning countryside, we’re only ever a phone call away and would love to help.
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Written by Karen
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