DSC_3412

Winter Walk: Water of Leith, Dean Village

Strolling along the Water of Leith on a Sunny winter day – from Comely Bank to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.  Free Fun – free parking on Sunday, Free entry to museums and free to walk along the Water of Leith!!

For 2013, the Christmas and New Year’s weather was pretty dismal – lots of rain and wind – however, these bursts of ‘frightful’ holiday weather were scattered with periods of mild weather, blue skies and sunshine.  So when the sun was out, so were we!!  A few years ago we discovered Jupiter Artland, outside of Edinburgh.  As you enter the ‘gardens’ you are greeted with a sea of lush green grass sculpted into curves and waves, sweeping around tranquil pools of water.  These installations at Jupiter Artland were created by American landscape artist Charles Jencks (co-founder of Maggie’s Centers).  Its not easy to get out to Jupiter Artland, and it is only open during the summer, so I was thrilled to discover that there was a Jencks installation in Edinburgh, located at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.  OK, I’ll admit I’m not super arty so I’ve never been and didn’t even know where it was – but when I found out it was along the Water of Leith, I knew it would make a great walking day out.  It was in the back of my mind for a while but when I woke up this morning and the sun was shining, I knew today was the day.  We had a late start (around 11am) and wanted to finish before dusk so we planned a short, scenic route.  We parked our car at the top of Comely Bank Avenue, walked along Queensferry Road (over Dean Bridge) then down Bell’s Brae where we could pick up the Water of Leith walkway.  There is direct access from the walkway to the National Gallery.  We would take ‘the high road’ back – and since we were in the area, it would be a crime NOT to stop at Affogato for hand made artisan gelato.  We had our plan, our walking boots and our cameras, so away we went.  The weather was glorious, the walk was scenic, magical even, and the gelato was outstanding.   A perfect way to spend a few hours on a bright winter’s day.

Here’s our route:

2.5 mile walk along the Water of Leith, through Dean Village

2.5 mile walk along the Water of Leith, through Dean Village

Section 1 (Starting with the red route from Comely Bank Avenue):

A hidden world?

A hidden world?

Hidden Doors and Garages cut into Sloping Road

Hidden Doors and Garages cut into Sloping Road

Heading down to the Water of Leith - Bell's Brae

Heading down to the Water of Leith – Bell’s Brae

DSC_3400_3 DSC_3405_6 DSC_3410

We join the Water of Leith Walkway at the bottom of Bell’s Brae in the historical, enchanting and surprising Dean Village….

Well's Court viewed from the Water of Leith Walkway

Well’s Court viewed from the Water of Leith Walkway

DSC_3412

Iron gateway cut into the wall - lots of little engineering oddities along the way

Iron gateway cut into the wall – lots of little engineering oddities along the way

Where did the path go??

Where did the path go?? – Luckily we head in the opposite direction…

The walkway leads right to the Gallery

The walkway leads right to the Gallery

DSC_3417

The high water levels created a dramatic surge for the falls

The high water levels created a dramatic surge for the falls

DSC_3420

oops - there goes a tree...

oops – there goes a tree…

DSC_3425

Beyond the falls we are rewarded with still water and majestic reflections

Beyond the falls we are rewarded with still water and majestic reflections

DSC_3429 DSC_3431

half-way to the Galleries, the path is closed due to mud - so up so stairs to..

half-way to the Galleries, the path is closed due to mud – so up some stairs to..

The steps lead to Dean Path and a left on Ralveston Terrace finds us behind…

The steps lead to Dean Path and the 'Hogwart's-like' Stewart's Melville College

the ‘Hogwart’s-like’ Stewart’s Melville College

This is all new territory to us, so the detour was actually a bit of a blessing!!  A left onto Belford Road unveils an enclosed garden with a quaint wooden church that would look more at home in New England than Edinburgh.  We find out that this is St. Andrews Catholic Church; built in 1902 as a ‘temporary’ wooden structure, but is now a listed Arts and Crafts building.

St. Andrew's Catholic Church

St. Andrew’s Catholic Church

DSC_3436The detour also brings us closer to our goal – the Jenck’s installation in front of Building One of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art – the Water of Leith Walkway would have taken us across the street to Building Two.  Although smaller, the Jencks Landform here is just as awe inspiring, fun, and jaw droppingly impressive as the ones at Jupiter Artland.

So cool that they allow you to walk around and on the landform

So cool that they allow you to walk around and on the landform

DSC_3442 DSC_3445 DSC_3449 DSC_3452 DSC_3455 DSC_3458 DSC_3459 DSC_3461 DSC_3467

There several other art installations in the grounds, these are just a couple…

The plaque says 'Femme (woman)' but I just see a penquin

The plaque says ‘Femme (woman)’ but I just see a penquin

I have NO idea!! - therefore it must be art

I have NO idea!! – therefore it must be art

As we leave the gallery, the sign above the portico assures us that 'Everything is going to be alright'

As we leave the gallery, the sign above the portico assures us that ‘Everything is going to be alright’

We only go inside for a look round the shop (picked up some Christmas Baubles on sale!!) and to use the toilets – we’ll spend more time on a rainy day.

We head back towards the West End along the ‘High Road’ and follow Belford Road all the way around, back through Dean Village to Queensferry Road (the Blue route on the map)…

Dean Village is a quirky mix of medieval, victorian, stone, brick, stucco, tudor, cobbles...

Dean Village is a quirky mix of medieval, victorian, stone, brick, stucco, tudor, cobbles…

DSC_3473

A perfect setting for a Victorian Movie or period drama

A perfect setting for a Victorian Movie or period drama

Stepping back in time

Stepping back in time

Sunbury and Belford Mews

Sunbury and Belford Mews

Guarding the closey

Guarding the closey

The tenements of the West End tower over the quirky cottages of Dean Village

The tenements of the West End tower over the quirky cottages of Dean Village

The Chimneys of Dean and Bell's Court

The Chimneys of Dean and Bell’s Court

So cool to have a wee bridge to your front door

So cool to have a wee bridge to your front door

More Chimneys

More Chimneys

As we turn right up Queensferry Road we feel we are leaving ‘the past’ and are transported back to the present time.  All that time travel made us hungry so we reward ourselves with the best authentic gelato in Edinburgh, Affogato!!

Fresh, local, seasonal and hand made

Fresh, local, seasonal and hand made

3 thoughts on “Winter Walk: Water of Leith, Dean Village

  1. Lovely photos, I like all the small details you’ve noticed. I love the landform art too. Next time you go to the Gallery, go to the cafe, they have lovely cakes! And the walkway goes past both galleries,

    • Thank you. I will definitely be back to wander around inside both galleries soon. It’s such a lovely walk and setting, definitely adds to the ‘green’ vibe in Edinburgh.

Leave a Comment