Best walking & hiking trails in Edinburgh
With its compact scale, hills and fantastic vistas, Edinburgh is a great city to walk in. whether it’s the shorefront at Leith or Portobello, the Old Town or grand Georgian streets of the New Town, there are plenty of amazing places to walk.
Let's go through the top places to walk your dog in the Scottish capital, all within an easy drive from us at Seton Sands.
Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags
The remains of an ancient volcano and a tilted plain of dolerite formed these twin wonders which tower over the city to the north. Both are accessible to dog walkers, with Arthur’s Seat proving the more challenging climb.
Dogs can be let off the leash if they are well-behaved, and the views from the top of both slopes are stunning. There’s a large meadow on the gradual slope of Salisbury Crags suitable for throwing a ball around but beware of the cliffs – they are 174 metres high in places.
If you’re in the north of the city then do go for a wander in Inverleith Park. You’ll want to keep your pet on a lead, however, as there are usually quite a few swans and geese on the ornamental pond. Alternatively, walk down to the Water of Leith via Arboretum Avenue and follow the footpath in either direction along the water’s edge.
There’s plenty of space in the park for a picnic but not too many facilities, so do plan your visit accordingly.
Head from Colinton up to Bonaly Country Park, a beautiful, hilly section of the Pentland Hills which contains several reservoirs and wooded walks. In the lower sections, animals can run free. Above the treeline, there are sheep, so it may be wise to re-attach your lead.
The views from Bonaly Park are spectacular – on a clear day you can see over the First to Fife and beyond. Watch out for skittish roe deer and waterfowl on the reservoirs. There’s a free car park at Bonaly, which saves you walking some of the steeper sections.
Water of Leith Walkway
Edinburgh’s 'secret’ river is the 35km-long Water of Leith which flows from the Pentland Hills to the sea at Leith. Much of its length contains a walkway, and all is accessible to dog-walkers, with their animals on a lead.
There are often bins to help you tidy up after your animal and stretches out to the west, particularly between Colinton and Balerno, where you can take your pet off the lead for a run or plouter (Scots slang for dabbling in a stream!)
Blackford Hill and the adjacent Hermitage of Braid, offer other magnificent 360° views, particularly of Arthur’s Seat to the northwest. Park in the small car park on Observatory Road, where there are a small cluster of buildings devoted to science and scientific history. Walk up to the top of the hill, or down into the woods.
It should be fine to let your pet roam free here while you explore the unusual architectural and historic features, such as the site of a prehistoric hill fort and the Braid Ice House, an 18th-century stone-walled cold store.
As well as the Water of Leith winding through its centre, Edinburgh is the easternmost destination of the Union Canal, which links the city over 31 miles to Falkirk in the west (then via a different canal to Glasgow). Most of its length contains a picturesque waterway dotted with occasional open spaces, attractive buildings, and churches.
The stretch from Polwarth west to the Slateford Aqueduct is the most picturesque, although expect to share the path with cyclists, walkers, and runners, so keep your dog on a short lead.
Dean Village Walk
Once a thriving mill community, the Dean Village is a beautifully preserved area of cobbled lanes, bridges and weirs. Walk from here along the river path towards the Scottish Galleries of Modern Art at Belford Road. Look out for kingfishers and even river otters as you wander.
The river path continues, in various guises, for 22 miles in total, so plan your public transport in case your feet lead you too far!
Calton Hill and the New Town
One of the best city centre views can be obtained from Calton Hill to the east of the New Town. Enter via the steps on Regent Road and wander up past the iconic Dugald Stewart monument.
The famously never-finished ‘nation’s shame’ monument to the Napoleonic Wars, can be found here too with its arc of Doric columns.
The Royal Mile
As its name suggests, the Royal Mile spans a little over a modern mile between the Castle to the west and the Royal Palace of Holyrood to the east. Interestingly, Scots miles were once longer than their English equivalent, resulting in the slightly extended distance.
Castle to Palace is the easier, downhill route and includes many wonderful monuments and buildings including St Giles Cathedral, John Knox’s House, and the Museum of Childhood. It’s a street now very much given over to tourism, so you’ll find several opportunities to purchase whisky and tartan, but you may want to look further afield for bargain souvenirs. There are plenty of great tearooms and pubs on route too, for those all-important rest stops.
The Pentland Hills are one of the loveliest stretches of local countryside, lying just southwest of the city and is accessible from the free car park at Bonaly Park, near the Dreghorn interchange of the Edinburgh bypass.
From there, walkers can head up through the trees and over the hill, enjoying wonderful views over the Firth of forth to Fife, to reach Bonaly reservoir, where swimming is permitted (although icy much of the year). If you want a longer walk, you can follow the trail past the reservoir and round to the right of Allermuir Hill to reach Glencorse Reservoir, which has permit fishing and places to picnic.