I heard that Tia Tours of the Seven Hills was a New York Times bestseller ;) so I thought I would follow up with another blog post on some relatively flat areas to explore around Edinburgh. If hills are not your thing, not to worry. There is so much more to explore from the canal, The Meadows, The Water of Leith, or Cramond beach.
Let's start with Cramond. Cramond is a small village in the northwest of Edinburgh, nestled at the mouth of the River Almond where it enters the Firth of Forth.
Arguably, the best part of Cramond beach is the large promenade, ideal for leisurely strolls, cycling or running with a beautiful seaside backdrop. If you plan it well, you can even cross over to Cramond Island at low tide, where you can explore old war defences or get a great view of the rest of the Firth of Forth.
Apparently Robert Louis Stevenson’s writings were inspired by the area, however, there’s no treasure on the island and if you don’t get the tide times right then you can get stranded!
What’s in it for Tia?
Well endless space to run, an infinite (but funny tasting) water bowl and of course the sand itself. One of my proudest achievements is teaching Tia to dig on command (DIG DIG DIG!) to which she’ll aim for New Zealand in her efforts to dig for...something?.....No one actually knows what. The command isn’t constrained to the beach either and I owe my parents about £20 in flowers after boldly demonstrating Tia’s mining skills in their garden.
The Water of Leith walkway is a 20 km path that runs along a river in Edinburgh, starting in Balerno and ending at Leith waterfront into the Firth of Forth. The pathway passes through some of the most picturesque neighbourhoods in Edinburgh, including Dean Village and Stockbridge, known for their quaint architecture and surrounding landscapes. A must-see is the Colinton Tunnel mural, a 140 m long piece of local artwork that celebrates a wide range of Scottish life, whilst brightening up a previously gloomy part of the journey!. There’s several more features to see on the way - such as museums, parks and Edinburgh’s architecture and I’d certainly recommend dipping into it at least. Although 20km seems a long way you can easily complete it in sections, or by bike if you have a bit of suspension and decent tyres.
The Water of Leith provides Tia with all the things that a dog needs - furry friends, squirrels, a river to play in, and obviously the chance to get a 20km walk under the belt. The Colinton Tunnel was probably not her favourite place however, since she doesn’t quite understand how echoes work and was perplexed by how much noise a three-year old child can make when ice-cream is dropped. Either that, or she’s an art snob and unappreciative of the paintings?
Next up, The Union Canal. The canal opened in 1822, linking Edinburgh with Falkirk where it now connects with the Forth and Clyde Canal into Glasgow. This artificial waterway was crucial in the transportation of goods before the age of both rail and motorways, with horses pulling large barges between key cities in Scotland. Personally, I love the canal. There’s so many cute bridges, converted cafe-barges and it’s a surprisingly effective way to directly move across some parts of the city. For those keen cyclists, a day trip to Falkirk (~100 km there and back) is possible and you go through some beautiful scenery with not a hill in sight!
I live fairly close to the canal, and I’ve tried to do a dog+cycle combo a few times with Tia. Turns out you can easily outrun a dog on a bike...who’s the pace setter now eh! In all fairness, she’s pretty good at keeping up, but has clearly not read the cycling code and I’ve nearly ended up in the water when she decides to randomly switch lanes to investigate a passing duck.
Lastly, The Meadows and Bruntsfield Links, a favourite haunt of all Edinburgh’s students. Most of the student accommodation surrounds this large patch of grass and people will flock to the area for BBQs if the weather is more than 13℃ and its not raining. There’s a permanent 9-hole golf course that you can play too - just turn up with the kit and watch your head!!
The Meadows was actually a loch at one point, and provided much of Edinburgh’s water until 1621. It was then drained, and over the centuries converted from simple grazing land to the communal grassy area that we see today. It’s a great place for informal socialising, a run or really just a place to sit and be outdoors. For such a simple place, it’s possibly one of Edinburgh’s most loved areas and has an amazing community vibe.
In the eyes of Tia, the Meadows are a seasonal hunting ground. Winter brings a barren and lifeless landscape, but in the summer there’s a incomprehensible migration of sausages, burgers, and chicken to the grassland. Truly, it’s Tia’s version of rain after a drought. Alas, students guard their food jealousy, and only her finest puppy eyes ever win her a morsel. Probably a good thing, since she’d resemble a sausage if she was better at begging!