Walks to take around the Stockbridge area
Stockbridge and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Head out from central Edinburgh to explore the wonders of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Stockbridge, one of the most desirable neighbourhoods in the capital.
Roads, pavements and parkland paths.
Train to Edinburgh Waverley; alternatively local buses stop on Princes Street or longer distance buses at the bus station in St Andrew Square.
Distance 7.5km / 4.75 miles
Time 2.5 – 3 hours
Waverley Bridge exit from Edinburgh Waverley Rail Station.
There is no parking at the start of this walk. It is described starting from Edinburgh Waverley Rail station, though it could be shortened by 1.5km each way by catching a bus to Stockbridge. Beginning from Waverley, leave the station by the ramp onto Waverley Bridge and turn right, then left onto Princes’ Street. This is one of the most impressive of urban spaces, with the New Town off to the right and the Old Town and Castle seen across Princes Street Gardens on the left. Pass the impressive Waverley Monument to Sir Walter Scott and the front of the Royal Scottish Academy before taking a right turn into Frederick Street.
Keep straight on, passing the roundabout with a statue of William Pitt on the junction with George Street, continuing down Frederick Street down through Queen Street Gardens. St Stephen’s Church is prominent at the foot of the hill but before reaching it turn left into Circus Place. Follow the right hand curve of the Royal Circus on the right to avoid the busy traffic and enjoy one of Edinburgh’s most graceful curves of Georgian facades. At the far end turn right to rejoin the main road, Northwest Circus Place, and follow it down – passing independent shops and cafes – to cross the bridge at the heart of Stockbridge. At this point the Dean Village walk heads off to the left, but for our route continue ahead, eventually following a right fork into St Bernard’s Row.
At the next fork keep right (ignoring the sign for the Botanic Gardens) into Glenogle Road, which soon curves to the right. Branching off to the left are a whole series of 11 parallel Victorian cul-de-sacs. These – the Stockbridge Colonies – were built between 1861 and 1911 by a Co-operative to provide low-cost housing for working people; though some are built back-to-back.
Continue along the street until the East Gate to the Royal Botanic Garden is reached on the left. Pass through to reach the entrance kiosk to the gardens, which cover 70 acres and houses one of the world’s great plant collections. There is a maze of paths and areas that can be visited in the gardens – it is well worth buying a map from the kiosk to help explore more fully. Our route keeps right at two forks to reach the glasshouses – pass to the left of the first long glasshouse to reach the Victorian Palm House – the tallest in the UK. There is an entrance charge if you wish to go into the glasshouses.
Turn left just past the Palm House; the wide path soon reaches a huge herbaceous border. An arch in the hedge behind gives access to the more formal areas of the gardens, including the demonstration garden and the Queen Mother’s Memorial garden; however our route is a left turn onto a path which climbs uphill, signed for Inverleith House and the terrace cafe. Keep ahead at a junction to reach the rear of Inverleith House, and go through the gateway in the wall to the right of the house to reach the cafe and terrace. The house itself houses art exhibitions, whilst the terrace beyond it offers magnificent views to the skyline of central Edinburgh.
Pass the benches on the path beyond the house lawn to reach a t-junction; go right here and then left to begin the descent of the Chinese Hillside via a series of zigzags. At the bottom is a pagoda; turn right from here to head to the striking modern buildings at the John Hope Gateway, that include the garden shop, exhibition and Gateway restaurant. Exit through this building out of the gardens onto Arboretum Place. Go straight across the road here and through the gates opposite into Inverleith Park. Continue ahead until the cross-paths in the centre of the park – marked by a rough tower of stone (formerly a fountain) is reached.
Here turn left, following a path which curves left and descends with views over the pond, then curving slightly right before continuing to the park exit onto Raeburn Place. Turn left here to follow the road back to Stockbridge. To return to Waverley Station from here you can retrace your steps from the outward route, though you can vary the route by taking the second left onto St Stephen Street after crossing the bridge to follow the curving road past the grand church before continuing back into the city centre.
Stockbridge to Dean Village Water of Leith Walk
A short walk along the river
A lovely walk out from the bridge at Stockbridge under an arch up to St Bernards mineral Well and then on under Thomas Telford’s wonderfully engineered bridge to Dean Village. It does not take long (maybe 10-15 minutes) and is a relatively easy walk. A few stairs in places but there is wheelchair access part of the way.
See bullfinch, robins and a heron amongst the wildlife. look for fish in The Water of Leith. The river can be ferocious in winter but not a danger to pedestrians as far as I know.
Dean village is a revelation. Lots of interesting architecture and some very ancient buildings. Remains of old mills, of which there were apparently over 1000 in the Edinburgh area in the past. Lots of water to turn the wheels.It does feel a bit exclusive probably what the residents like that about it.
It’s all just a place to walk and look, no tearooms etc but there are plenty in the Stockbridge area.
Telford’s bridge is sublime and particularly interesting.