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The east coast: Leith Shore to Granton

The east coast: Leith Shore to Granton

Postby nigheandonn » Sat Aug 22, 2020 5:14 pm

Date walked: 17/08/2020

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I had one last little stretch of local coast to do, from Leith shore to Granton - not far at all as the seagull flies, but industrial ground always gets complicated, and I thought it would probably take a while to work my way round the docks and Ocean Terminal and Western Harbour.

I came along the past the old warehouses on Commercial Street to pick up the route by the old Customs House, the western side of the Sandport bridge.

Behind the Customs House

It's not easy to keep to the river here - beyond the Customs House the bank is blocked by a private gardens sign at Sandport.

Sandport garden and bandaged pillar

The little bridge at Teuchter's Landing is closed too, so that I found myself in the space behind all the old warehouses I'd walked past before - this being the front side as far as the restaurants are concerned.

Commercial Quay

The other side of the space is the Scottish Government buildings, which is presumably why it's so difficult to get anywhere - I walked right along to the other end and a bit more before I could finally head down to the roundabout at Ocean Terminal and swing back along past Victoria Dock - I really should just have crossed the river in the first place, and back at the Ocean Drive bridge.

Scottish Government

The mouth of the river is not at all obvious, as it's all just docks - I'd crossed it before I'd realised what I'd done, and had a wander round as far as I was allowed to go.

Dock buildings

I went over the blue bridge into Rennie's Isle, partly in the hope of finding out what it had to do with Rennie, but there was nothing there except new houses, and I came out again to Victoria Dock and made my way back along.

(Apparently Rennie built what was the Old East Dock, now the Scottish Government site, and the Teuchter's Landing bridge is the remains of the old entrance lock.)

There was some kind of building works going on behind Ocean Terminal - I could get so far along to take a picture through the fence looking towards the docks entrance.

Looking out

The back of Ocean Terminal is blocked off because of the Royal Yacht Britannia, as far as I can tell, so I was turned round the front of it again, and then to an emptier space where I got a kind of view of it, and across the expanse of the almost empty Western Harbour.

Royal Yacht Brittania

Beyond Ocean Terminal I was finally starting to get somewhere, if it was only to the other side of Western Harbour - past the Chancelot Mill, once the Caledonia Flour Mill, and along past Asda to start walking out towards the end of the west breakwater.

This was the landfill side, and a mix of tall buildings - the ones that stand out so much from Granton - and fairly rough spaces in between. Towards the end some of the empty spaces seemed to be quite attractive wetland, although fenced off, but it wasn't the park that the map had seemed to promise.


Eventually I came round the corner to the end, with the park and the lighthouse and the fishermen along the seawall.

End of the road

The park itself was just a space with grass and some things that may or may not be benches, but I'd been waiting until here to eat my lunch, and it was still the best spot I'd passed for a while.

Lighthouse Park

The little lighthouse has had all its glass smashed and is in a bit of a sorry state, although it's not particularly historic.


The way back was the breakwater side, with the stone to walk on as well as the path.

Back along the breakwater

As I came round the curve the tiny harbour at Newhaven came into view - a sudden and surprising glimpse of east coast fishing village tucked into the corner of all this industrial scale.

Newhaven harbour

And it is, of course - the Newhaven fish wives were famous in their day. The old fish market is now an assortment of restaurants, but beyond that you go quite quickly back to slightly down-at-heel houses, beyond the handful standing with their gable ends to the street.

The fishmarket

One nice old building had a space built into it for a barometer case - first built in 1775, according to the inscription, and with a carving of a sailing ship as decoration.

Old houses

I had been here before, I realised, as the church building on the seafront is Alien Rock, but I've certainly never walked through.

With Western Harbour out of the view Granton was now clear ahead, the new flats standing up as disconcertingly as the Western Harbour flats do when seen from there.

Looking towards Granton

The next stretch was just houses on one side and sea on the other - a pub on this stretch was called the Old Chain Pier, although I could see no sign of remains of the pier itself - apparently built in 1821, in the style of a suspension bridge, and designed by the Captain Samuel Brown who also designed the Union Bridge at Horncliffe, the first suspension bridge to carry traffic when it was completed a year earlier.

Old Chain Pier

Quite quickly beyond that I was at the start of Granton, a grassy space and a path between the road and the sea wall, and then the long curve of terraced houses painted in different colours

Colourful houses

I had forgotten that I wanted to walk out to the end of the east breakwater, and so forgotten to allow for it in my timings - it's a good half mile from beginning to end, so no small undertaking.

Granton breakwater

Fishermen were even busier here than at the end of the Western Harbour breakwater, or at least out in greater numbers, because they never do seem very busy - they just stick the ends of their rods between the stones and let the rods fish by themselves.

From here I could look across at the other side of the harbour, beyond the waste ground at the start of my previous coastal walk.

Across Granton harbour

From Granton Square, with its battered grand buildings, I turned away from the coast for home - my line along the coast has been drawn erratically, but is now unbroken from North Shields to Queensferry, so I better get myself to the bridge.
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