On a gloriously sunny day a few weeks ago we decided to go for a walk along the Union Canal in Edinburgh.
Since we live on the east side of the city centre and the canal starts from the Lochrin Basin on the west side we walked through the centre of town via the National Museum of Scotland. Walking down Candlemaker Row there’s a great view of Edinburgh Castle rising high above the Grassmarket on Castle Rock.
Candlemaker is quite a narrow street with tall buildings on one side which are the back of those on George IV Bridge, including the old Harvey’s Furniture Store and the former Martyr’s Free Church for the Reformed Presbyterians (both now pubs).
Rising even higher is the French-influenced roof of the Central Public Library, the first library in Scotland to be funded by Andrew Carnegie.
Passing through the Grassmarket we caught another glimpse of the Castle.
On the corner of East Fountainbridge and Lothian Road is the old Fountainbridge branch of the Trustee Savings Bank (now a Lloyds TSB), above the door of which is a domed recess containing a mosaic with the quotation “Thrift is Blessing” from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.
Across Lothian Road East Fountain Bridge becomes Fountainbridge, and we passed the arched entrance to the old Edinburgh Meat Market.
Not much further along Fountainbridge is the entrance to the Lochrin Basin, the eastern terminal of the Union Canal. The canal used to continue to a point between Semple Street and Lothian Road but was truncated and the land there reclaimed for development.
Completed in 1822 the canal was built to connect Edinburgh to the Forth and Clyde Canal to allow coal and other goods to be brought into the city by boat. With the advancement of the railways the canal had fallen out of use by the 1930s but in recent years a regeneration programme has led to the canal being a popular place to walk, cycle, run and row.
There are lots of boats moored along the canal at this end, inlcuding a ship (ok, boat) called Dignity.
Not far along the canal is the Leamington Lift Bridge, an interesting vertical lift bridge.
Further still, above the keystone of the Viewforth Bridge is a carved representation of Edinburgh’s coat of arms.
As we rounded a slight bend in the canal Polwarth parish church came into view.
This really is a great place for a walk, very peaceful and relaxed. It doesn’t feel like you’re in the middle of a city at all.
Next to the bridge which connects Ashley Terrace to Gray’s Loan is the Ashley Terrace boathouse.
We left the canal’s towpath at this point, walking up Gray’s Loan before turning onto Polwarth Terrace, continuing along Polwarth Grove and Polwarth Gardens before turning up Merchiston Avenue to the junction between Morningside and Bruntsfield, known as Holy Corner. Across the road here is the Morningside United Church.
We walked across Bruntsfield Links and down to the Meadows, where the glass boxes of the Quartermile poke out above the trees.
Today was the first really warm day of the year so the Meadows was busy. Long may the good weather continue.
After basking in the sun for a while we made our way up Middle Meadow Walk, heading for home.