Time for walkies! Top Spots to Go Off-the-Lead Around Edinburgh
Today Gareth from Edinburgh Expert Walking Tours is kindly letting us in on some of the best spots to go for a relaxing leash-free walk with your dog around Edinburgh. Gareth provides ‘Tours With Paws’ featuring Scotland’s only canine tour guide, Monty the French bulldog – perhaps something for you and your dog?!
5 brilliant spots for walking your dog in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is a wonderfully walkable city, giving dogs (and you, their owners) a great workout as you explore the sights – from the narrow lanes and ‘closes’ of the Old Town to the Georgian terraces of the New Town, it’s a city best explored on foot.
But if you’re visiting with your pet, you may also want to give your dog a chance to run free and enjoy some time off the leash, so here are my (and my canine co-guide Monty’s) top spots for running and chasing, throwing a ball, making new doggy friends, and seeing the city in a whole new light! Whether you are looking for a short walk or a longer, more active trek there’s somewhere suitable for you…
Nestled at the end of Princes Street, this central vantage point for enjoying panoramic views across the city also serves as a great place to allow your dog off the lead for a short run. From the city side, follow the signposted steps off Waterloo Place – past a gateway into Rock House – and up, up, up to the summit of this extinct volcano.
From here you’ll be rewarded with an outlook over the city and surrounding landscape, extending as far away as Fife to the north, with a chance to see up-close iconic features like the the Grecian columns of the National Monument (or ‘Edinburgh’s Shame’) and the Nelson Monument with its time ball. A large expanse of grass behind the columns is perfect for your dog to enjoy an impromptu chase with other dogs, while you enjoy the views!
Follow the steps down at the northern side of the hill to return to the city near the Edinburgh Playhouse to make it a circular walk.
Allow 45 minutes to an hour.
Dean Village and Water of Leith
Running through the valley to the north of the New Town is the Water of Leith, a gentle stream that emerges at the port of Leith, and which today offers a glorious way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre for a while.
From Charlotte Square in the west end of the New Town, walk away from Princes Street along Queensferry Road then take the steep hill on the left down towards the historic Dean Village, a former industrial village which is today a haven of peace and quiet. Let your dog off the lead as you do a short circuit through the picturesque village before following the Water of Leith pathway under the Dean Bridge and along the wooded trail.
You’ll pass hidden gems like the eighteenth-century St Bernard’s mineral well, before you re-enter the city via Stockbridge, an always-popular suburb with plenty of dog-friendly bars, cafes, shops and restaurants.
Allow 1 hour to 90 minutes.
From the bottom of the Royal Mile, the expanse of Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat offers you and your furry friend a great opportunity to stretch your legs.
Follow one of the many routes through the park, around either the base or across the top of the crags to the west of the park, or all the way to the summit of Arthur’s Seat itself. Drive and park around the back (road closed on Sundays) near Dunsapie Loch to explore the far side of the park, and be sure to stop off to feed the ducks or explore the ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel overlooking Holyrood Palace.
The views over the Old Town are unparalleled, and as it’s a popular spot for local dog owners to walk, you’ll be sure to make some new friends while you’re here!
Allow 1 to 2 hours.
Cramond Foreshore and Island
To the north of Edinburgh is the suburb of Cramond, with its remains of a Roman fort and a popular path along the beach front for cyclists and dog walkers. Park in the village of Cramond itself, or a little further out on Marine Drive, and explore the rocky shoreline, with a walk inland through the woods along the River Almond to the Cramond Falls Cafe.
At low tide it’s a gentle stroll out over the exposed sand to Cramond Island, where you can explore the abandoned structures from its time as a defensive site during the Second World War, or just enjoy the absence of city noise – except for periodic flights descending into Edinburgh Airport passing above you! Be sure to leave enough time to return to the mainland before the tide turns…
Allow 1 to 2 hours.
Blackford Hill and Hermitage of Braid
A short drive from the city centre takes you to this hidden gem (for visitors – but a popular spot for locals), past the bottom of Morningside Road to the south of the Old Town. Park near the Lodge Coffee House on Braid Road and charge your batteries with a takeaway coffee (for you) and a piece of homemade liver cake (for your dog), or plan to sit in and refresh yourself after your walk on the way back.
Follow the Braid burn through a beautifully kept wooded nature reserve where your dog can splash in the stream or nose through the trees, past the historic Hermitage of Braid building and visitor centre, before following signs to climb up Blackford Hill, another of the city’s great vantage points. The city’s Royal Observatory is at the top of the hill (with an alternative car park for those who prefer to start their walks at the top of the route!) before you descend back into the valley and return along the Braid burn.
Allow 90 minutes to 2 hours.
Looking for dog friendly accommodation in Edinburgh?
We look after many wonderful and unique self catering homes in Edinburgh where dogs are welcome too – such as the absolutely charming two bedroom apartment on 88 St Stephen street in Stockbridge in the photo above.