Here’s a blog post about some of my favourite weekend walks near Edinburgh (but not in the city centre). I don’t own a bike so every place that I mention is accessible with Lothian buses (Edinburgh’s normal city buses). You can check Google maps and the Lothian bus app for bus numbers and timetables.
Walks near the sea
One of my favourite places to go is Cramond island. It’s an island linked to the mainland by a walkway that us submerged twice a day due to the tides. The first time I went was in December, and I got stuck there for a few very cold hours 😂 so be careful to check the tide times before you go. There are multiple small beaches and cliffs (not very high or scary don’t worry) and beautiful views on Edinburgh and Arthur’s Seat, and all the way to North Berwick, as well as on the Firth of Forth (the big estuary near Edinburgh) bridges. In the warmer months there is always an ice-cream van parked near the start of the walkway on the mainland side, which is very nice! Cramond itself has a very large beach that’s perfect for evening barbecues in May. It also has Roman ruins as well as the first traces of human occupation in the UK (don’t quote me on that!), which date back to the time when most of Scotland was covered by glaciers 10,000+ years BC. You can also visit Lauriston castle’s gardens (it has a nice Japanese area) very close to Cramond. To go there, you can get bus 41 (which starts from Kings buildings where most earth science lectures and tutorials are held).
I also recommend going on a day trip to Portobello, then Musselburgh, then Prestonpans (going eastwards along the coastline from Edinburgh). There are very frequent buses running along the main road there and you get to visit a few different beaches and seaside cities. There are more expensive ‘country’ buses that can take you all the way to North Berwick, through Aberlady (very nice coastal walk with big sand dunes and beautiful views of Edinburgh).
Walks in the countryside and hills
Another one of my favourites is the Pentlands. You can walk along a lake in Balerno and through a forest along a river (but there aren’t any panoramic view of Edinburgh unless you continue towards Colinton, but that’s a much longer walk). If you don’t mind steeper walks, you can visit different small lakes near Bonaly (that walk goes through a forest and up a hill to a lake, and the views of Edinburgh and Fife on the other side of the Firth of Forth are amazing). I once walked from Bonaly to Hillend on a very windy day and it was very hard to keep standing up when I reached hilltops because the wind was extremely violent! But if you choose a calm day, you will be rewarded by beautiful landscapes, of the Pentlands hills to the south, and of Edinburgh and the North Sea to the left.
You can also take a bus that goes directly to Hillend, where there is an artificial ski slope that I highly recommend you visit if you are a snow sports enthusiast but don’t have time to go up to the Cairngorms or the Highlands to bigger ski resorts.
If you like fields and flat countryside walks you can walk from Gorebridge to Temple and back (there aren’t any Lothian buses in Temple). There are a few different itineraries, that can take you along the South Esk river, through fields, and across gardens (Arniston estate. The gardens are open to the public during the day).
You can also try Dalkeith’s country park, near Dalkeith castle. There are numerous walks, also along fields, rivers, and through forests.
May and June are perfect months for day trips around Edinburgh, and I hope that this article will have been informative. If you want more detailed information or precise itineraries, feel free to comment this article or contact us through our social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).
Of course, if you have a bike or a car, many more places are easily accessible from Edinburgh. If you have a few days to spare, why not head up to the Highlands, to the Cairngorms, or to the Hebrides?