5.7km Edinburgh Leafy Garden Walk
This route starts at the Royal Botanic Gardens.
The Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh is one of four gardens. Botanics, as it is known to the locals, is 70 acres of fresh flowers in all rainbow colours and heavenly floral scents. The iconic Research Glasshouses (all 16 of them) incubate roughly 4,300 plant species in almost 12,000 pots. With numerous collections of species that read as much of a mouthful for non-botanists, you’ll discover a whole new array of plants you never knew existed. Botanics also houses various initiatives, such as community gardens, which your donations can help support.
Exiting the park at West Gate/Side, turn left down Arboretum Place.
Continue over Inverleith Terrace to get onto Arboretum Avenue, which becomes St Bernard’s Row after the bend. At the end of St Bernard’s Row, turn left into Deanhaugh Street, then left into Dean Terrace.
Turn left onto St Bernard’s Bridge, which will be the first bridge on your left. Take the steps leading down to the Waters of Leith Walkway.
The Waters of Leith have played a crucial role in the development of its surrounding areas. It’s been providing water and power as far back as the Bronze Age to medieval mill sites, which peaked in the late 1700s with 76 mill sites over the 23-mile stretch of river. Along this route, you will see St Bernard’s Well, with a statue of the Hygieia aptly placed in the centre, as the water in the well was once believed to have healing powers. The Water of Leith Conservation Trust also provides the option for an audio trail, which you can listen to on Soundcloud or download here if you wish to know more about specific stretches of the walkway.
Continue straight under the Dean Bridge onto Miller Row. At the split in the road, turn right onto Bell’s Brae over the small bridge, which becomes Dean Path, then turn left onto Damside. At the next street, turn left again and continue straight over the bridge, then turn left again onto Hawthornbank Lane. When you reach the end of the road, turn right onto Bells Brae. Continue straight to turn left into Randolph Crescent.
Part 4 of the 5.7km Edinburgh Leafy Garden Walk
Go straight down Great Stuart Street, around Ainslie Place, and back onto Great Stuart Street. Go up Moray Place, then take the second street right, Darnaway Street, which becomes Heriot Row.
Turn right into Queen Street Gardens East, continuing straight when it becomes Hanover Street.
You will then reach Princes Street with West Princes Street Gardens just to the right.
Princes Street Gardens is beautiful in any season. With buildings of note surrounding the park, set in the foreground of Edinburgh Castle, and sitting right between Old Town and New Town, it is perhaps one of the most picturesque gardens in Edinburgh steeped in history. Look out specifically for Ross Fountain, the Gardener’s Cottage, and the floral clock (these are all part of West Princes Street Gardens).
Exit the park at the same place you entered, turn right down The Mound, and follow the curve that becomes North Bank Street. Then turn sharp right into Bank Street.
Continue all the way straight and at the National Museum of Scotland, turn right into Forrest Road and over the intersection into Middle Meadow Walk leading into the Meadows.
The Meadows, also one of the most picturesque parks in Edinburgh, is a popular gathering spot for university students, dog walkers, and primary school children. The Middle Meadow Walk is lined with pink cherry blossom trees, which bloom in the spring. And in the winter, see peaceful misty mornings with dew-covered grass. Walk around this vast open-spaced park and enjoy a quick snack at one of the stalls in the park to end your park’s walk on a high note.
If you enjoyed this route, see our 4.5km Inspiring Edinburgh Art Museums Walk