A walk near water  

Article in the Konect Directory, Calders edition, July 2010

Karen Murray enjoys a local stroll taking in the sights along the canal and the river valley

Everyone has their favourite local walk which they will head out on regularly and always find something new to enjoy, but at the same time, finding somewhere a bit different for a stroll is also good. 


And so it is with me. As someone who has just completed the moonwalk for the second time, walking becomes something to fit into the everyday routine and therefore my moonwalk training partners and I tended to fall into a regular routine with a couple of walks - one longer, one shorter, being the norm.  Every now and then however, we’d go in search of somewhere different but nonetheless handy.

So it was we discovered a route from the Canal basin at Ratho that offered us a change of scene and can in fact be a longer or a shorter walk. It’s best to take the car to Ratho in the first place, but you could walk there if you so desired.

Park in the public car park by the canal and then cross over the road and walk along the road away from the canal, to the road junction where you take a left turn down a small rutted lane. 

The lane dwindles to a track running between the M8 motorway on the right and the quarry housing the Edinburgh Indoor Climbing Arena on the left.

Follow the track over the top of the hill and down along the edge of a field to where it meets the canal, close to climbing centre. 

You then continue the walk along the canal towpath, pass over a small aqueduct, then underneath three bridges, before reaching the much bigger Lin’s Mill Aqueduct, with its five arches, looming 75 feet above the River Almond. It was designed by Hugh Baird with advice from Thomas Telford and completed eventually in 1822. There’s a great view so totally worth a rest here.

At this point you can decided to head back to the Canal Centre at Ratho or carry on to the Almondell Country Park for a longer route back.  

The longer route…

The latter route takes you right at the beginning of the aqueduct, down some steps to an access road under the aqueduct. Follow the road to top of a hill where a footpath signpost indicates the next section of the route along the River Almond Valley to the country park. For most of the way this path runs beside a millrace and eventually you reach Shiel Mill (now a private residence). Cross the access road and keep to the footpath until you reach a large, metal footbridge spanning the river. Head across it, unless you want to detour to the left to the park visitor centre and a cup of tea…

If not, once over the bridge, walk ahead away from the river then bear right onto a tarmac track that leads to the park’s northern entrance. Then walk along the road until you reach a crossroads. Turn right and stay on this minor road, round a double bend, to a farm on a corner of the road. Go straight ahead on a farm track that leads to a bridge over the Union Canal. Cross the bridge then follow the towpath all the way back to Ratho.

The shorter route…

At the Lin’s Mill Aqueduct, stop, enjoy the view, then retrace your steps along the canal towpath. However, when you reach the smaller aqueduct, don’t head back up to the track you came on, simply continue on the towpath back to the Canal Centre. Go under the bridge and turn left back to the car park. This shorter route is around five miles and is perfect for a brisk circular walk taking around two hours. The longer route is around 8.5 miles so it is more of an adventure - perhaps with a picnic or a coffee stop in the country park along the way, or as you go past the Climbing Centre you could grab a coffee there or stop for a climbing experience. You could time your walk to finish with a drink or a meal at the Bridge Inn at  Ratho or even take a boat cruise along the canal.  

© Lothian Publications Ltd 2014 

Union Canal near Ratho