Water of Leith Walkway Stage 1 – Balerno to Juniper Green

Hello Fellow Gallopers,

Took a few days off to walk the Water of Leith Walkway to experience and discover the natural beauty and wildlife that this waterway sustains as it flows from the Pentland Hills and meanders through the heart of the capital city of Scotland (Edinburgh) before emptying itself into the Firth of Forth at Leith. The river itself is 35kms (25 miles long) and rises in the Colzium Springs in the Pentland Hills.

The 12 3/4 mile walkway starts in Balerno and follows the path of the old Balerno Branch railway line to Slateford; it then runs parallel to the river all the way to Leith. The main areas of the city that the river passes in this stage are Balerno, Currie and Juniper Green.

Balerno is the last of a chain of villages linked by the river, which skirts the Northern slopes of the Pentland Hills. Originally a farming community, it expanded into paper-making and flax milling around 1800. The Balerno Branch Railway was opened in 1874, principally to service the paper mills but also to carry passengers. The railway line now serves as a level Walkway from Balerno just over fives miles to Slateford. Former mills of the area include the Waulkmill of Ballernoch. Dating from 1376, it became a distillery in 1845 and a piggery in recent memory. The Balerno Paper Mill dates from 1788; it became a glue works in 1882 and finally a tannery.

Currie was an ancient settlement, the name being derived from the Celtic “Curagh” meaning hollow or glen. The village was the centre of a large parish, mainly farmland, ranging from the crest of the Pentlands in the south down to the Gogar Burn in the north. The site of Currie Kirk has housed a church for over 1000 years. In 1296 it was dedicated to St.Kentigern and the present church was built in 1785 at a cost of £433. Kinleith Mill was the largest mill on this section of the river and the biggest employer, with 389 workers at its peak, leaving a massive gap in the community, especially in Currie, when it closed in 1966.

Juniper Green was first mentioned as a village in 1707 and may take its name from the juniper bushes growing on the Pentland slopes. The area was dominated by the Woodhall Estate which included Woodhall Paper Board Mill (a paper mill dating from 1749) and Inglis or Woodhall Grain Mill which worked at drying grain under electric power until 2003, being the last working mill on the river to be then demolished to create housing. Below the City Bypass, one will see the Upper Spylaw Mill, which was one of Scotland’s earliest paper mills (1682) and later made snuff (1765). It had a colourful history and for a time (c.1776) the top floor was an inn frequented by smugglers. The mill became a dairy and recently a riding school.

To see all the images* in this set, please click the link below:

http://koshy.smugmug.com/Places/Water-of-Leith-Walkway-Stage1/12331733_mBrb2#880747950_uB4Ri

Please do join me next time for Stage 2 of the journey which will start at Colinton and pass through Slateford and end in Saughton.

Till next time, take care and gallop free.

* – images taken with the Canon 50D.

Ride with the Black Stallion: www.igallopfree.com

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