Working in a Walkway Wonderland

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The Water of Leith Walkway which runs from Balerno to Leith is an interesting beast to say the least, the concept of a public path next to the river first appeared in 1949, and although parts of it were constructed from 1973 onwards. It wasn’t completed until 2002 with funding from the Millennium project scheme.

It’s a space that changes as the sun crosses the sky with a busyness in the morning as dog walkers, runners, cyclists and horse riders get out early to make the most of the day. Followed by those with a more carefree pace around noon as they wander on the search for a coffee or lunch to compliment the sights of sounds of being by the river. To once again be replaced by those racing to get home as the birds start to roost and the darkness draws in, leaving the walkway for the foxes, badgers, bats, owls and moths that have limited dark corridors elsewhere in the city.

The management of the walkway ultimately falls to the City of Edinburgh council who also care for many of the parks and greenspaces along the almost 13 miles route. Like many services provided by the council there are serious pressures on finite resources and thus as part of our mission to enhance and care for the Water of Leith, we also spend a considerable amount of time assisting the council in the maintenance of the walkway. This financial year alone out of 3,585 hours done by our volunteers to date, over a third, 1316 hours has been spent maintaining the walkway.

Our limitation is of course that when the snow fails, vegetation grows, leaves drop or heavy rain leaves puddles it normally happens along the full 13 miles of the walkway. Thus although we can’t be everywhere at once we chip away at what we can each session and improve it ,with the hope that no one will notice as they’ll be too busy enjoying being outdoors and not having to dodge nettles, jumping puddles or noticing litter.

The following photos show some of the work done to date this year to give a flavour of the contribution are amazing volunteers and staff get up to.

Clearing ice from stairs so it’s safe for people to use

Cutting back of overgrown vegetation as it grows onto the walkway during the summer 

Replacing rotten and worn out stairs 

Painting of railings along the walkway to stop them rusting away

Keeping drainage channels open so water can drain away 

Planting of trees and bulbs to enhance the edges of the walkway 

Keeping the walkway dry and usable by removing leaves galore from the walkway. 

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