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Water of Leith - Dean Village to Stockbridge

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by David C. Weinczok (subscribe)
Historian, presenter, writer. David C. Weinczok lives and works in Scotland and has visited over 160 castles. He works with major heritage organisations and has appeared as an expert in a BBC2 documentary. Follow him on Twitter at @TheCastleHunter
Published November 8th 2016
The sights to be seen between Stockbridge and Dean
If you're looking to escape the Princes Street crowds or fancy taking a quick trip to a European-style village, walking along the Water of Leith between Dean Village and Stockbridge is simply unbeatable.

Starting at Dean Village, whose name means 'deep valley', this leisurely route is less than a mile long yet has enough to see that you can spend days coming back again and again. Huge areas of the Edinburgh make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and down here you can find mill stones and carved plaques marking the area's past as a milling town. Records talk of a settlement here as far back as the 1120s. The view from the wee bridge instantly transports you somewhere else entirely. To me it's a bit like Bruges or Bavaria - what do you think?

Dean Village, Water of Leith, world heritage site, Edinburgh, river, Scotland, mills, milling, heritage
Echoes of mainland Europe in the heart of Scotland's capital


There's a little paved path leading away from Dean Village towards Stockbridge with lots to be seen on the way. Check out the man-made waterfalls and gaze up at the impressively tall Dean Bridge, designed by famed Scots architect Thomas Telford. Up top you get fantastic views, and at sunset in particular it's a photographer's dream come true.

Rhema Church, Dean Bridge, Thomas Telford, bridge, Dean Village, Water of Leith, Edinburgh
Enjoying sunset from atop Dean Bridge


Keep going for a few minutes and you'll reach a true sanctuary, St Bernard's Well. Just before the well is a gateway on the left which takes you right down to the water's edge. This is perhaps my favourite spot in Edinburgh - peaceful, beautiful, and with a crane that can often be found hanging out nearby. Here he is flying past with St Bernard's Well on the right.

Edinburgh, St Bernard's Well, Water of Leith, crane, bird, Victorian, world heritage, UNESCO
A crane swoops past St Bernard's Well


Following the main path takes you through the Harry Potter-esque Dene bridge and passageway. To me, walking through it takes you tangibly back 200 years for one special moment. This, along with St Bernard's Well, make this short span of the walk a perfect place to take a contemplative solo stroll or to go for a romantic day out.

The Dene, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, bridge, Victorian, architecture
The Dene, looking like something from a Harry Potter set


Through the other side brings you into the heart of Stockbridge, and the courtyard at the crossroads is where the fantastic Stockbridge Market is held every Sunday. This is also one of the best areas of town for charity shops, restaurants and quirky high-end retail outlets. It doesn't hurt that it's all set to buildings like this:

Stockbridge, Edinburgh, world heritage, bridge, architecture, Scotland
Stockbridge comes alight at dusk


But an even better treat awaits around the corner. If you follow the bridge road uphill towards the town centre, just past St Stephen Street you'll see an inconspicuous cobbled road on your left called Circus Lane. Follow it. It's perhaps Edinburgh's prettiest hidden gem with St Stephen's Centre, a converted church, appearing ahead to make a picture perfect end to this walk.

Stockbridge, Circus Lane, This Is Edinburgh, UNESCO, world heritage, cobbled street, Scotland, St Stephen Centre
Circus Lane, one of Edinburgh's best kept secrets

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Great article and the photographs are stunning!
by Jay Johnson (score: 3|1368) 666 days ago
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