The east coast: Fisherrow to Leith Shore

Date walked: 12/01/2019

South of the Tyne, my line along the coast is very neat, stretching now from South Shields down to Flamborough Head. The north, however, has never been very tidy, and although I filled in the gap between Whitley Bay and Cresswell a while ago, and between Berwick and Cockburnspath late last year, there's still a gap between the end of the old John Muir Way at Fisherrow and the Fife Coastal path at North Queensferry - all the bits that are too close to home to be interesting.

I didn't really want an exciting walk today, though - I wanted fresh air, and I wanted to get my miles for my month up a bit, but I didn't really feel like anything too energetic, so suddenly a nice path and beach walk from Fisherrow through to Leith sounded like just the thing.

It takes a surprisingly long time for a bus to wander through from the west of Edinburgh to Musselburgh - I could be miles and miles away in the same amount of time. But I got there in the end, and managed to get off the bus in the right place, and came down to the little harbour at Fisherrow. There were a few boats in the harbour, although there were a lot more up on the harbour wall, but there was no water.


All the signs here still talk about it being the end of the John Muir Way - in theory this isn't true any more, but in practice I don't think I saw any waymarkers pointing me on. I parted company from it pretty soon anyway, sticking to the coast as it turned inland.

Fife was in view on the other side of the water, giving me the same friendly feeling I had when I walked out along that coast last spring with the Lothian coast keeping me company across the water.


I hadn't bothered to turn up to the road at first, sticking to the shingly beach where a handful of other people were about.


After a little while I did come up to read another information board, but soon found a small road running back down towards the shore where other people seemed to be heading. Oddly, through, the road ran out at a locked gate - a very rough path led over to the beach, and I followed it down and crossed the burn with two long steps over a convenient stone, but the sandy stretch ahead seemed to be blocked by a rocky corner ahead.

Across the water were the distinctive shapes of the Lomond hills, and the distinctive buildings of Kirkcaldy with its triplet tower blocks.


I followed it on anyway, thinking there might be a way over the rocks, and as I came to the corner a new narrower stretch of sand came into sight - there were still rocks ahead, but low enough that it looked like there must be a way over.


Things got stonier as I went on, but I could see a great stretch of sand ahead of me again in the distance.


I had a chance further to escape up steps to the promenade and didn't take it, which was a mistake, as the last bit was the worst - but eventually I came round below what seemed to be a disused pavilion and onto the promenade at Joppa by the bandstand.


I kept to the good promenade path from then on as it led to Portobello.

A slightly odd looking collection turned out to be decorated pillars saved from a local house when it was demolished.


In Portobello itself the beach got broader and the promenade busier - it was quite windy, but not really cold, and a lot of people was out for a walk or a run or a cycle.


I'd hoped to get something to eat in one of the little cluster of places at the end of the main road down to the shore, but they were all quite busy, so I headed on hoping to find somewhere later, past the amusements and the odd tower behind them.


Over the water Fife had decided to disappear - a dark shadow of Inchkeith, and not much behind it.


I really gave up finding anything to eat after that, as I found myself in a long land of car salesrooms, and then on a road past builders' warehouse type shops as it climbed up well above the shore.


Where the road turned inland over the railway line leading to the docks a tiny path seemed to keep to the seaward side of the tracks, but I wasn't really convinced that it went anywhere, as it was quite overgrown, and the ground ahead was fenced off.

So I kept on along the road inland, hoping to find a shop and eventually buying chocolate at a petrol station, and then turned back to follow the first dock road down to the sea wall for a view of the sea and along the outside of the docks.


From there it was on Salamander Street, storage places and scrapyards and the blank walls of old factories, but it was a distinctive Leith name at least. The second dock road was just a little spur down to the gates, but I got a decent picture through the fence of an empty yard before I'd come to the gate itself with a sign saying that photography wasn't allowed.


From there it wasn't far to the junction of Constitution Street and a cluster of even older buildings, including the surprisingly grand Assembly Rooms. I'm always surprised when I go down to Leith just how beautiful it is and how much there is to look at, but I never remember about it in time to take me back sooner.


I turned up Constitution Street for a bit looking for something to eat, but nothing available really appealed, so I came back down and on past the Casino.

I'd meant to go on and finish at Ocean Terminal, which was a useful place to get a bus, but instead I was distracted by the turning up to the Shore, and more old buildings as well as the river.


After wandering up past various expensive places I found a Pizza Express, which was slightly less expensive and wouldn't mind feeding me at a silly time, halfway in between lunch and dinner - and the 22 bus stopped right by it to take me back into town, so I didn't have to go exploring for a bus, which was useful as they seem to scatter in all directions once leaving Leith Walk.

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Location: Edinburgh
Activity: Wanderer
Mountain: Eildon North Hill
Place: Tarbert Loch Fyne

Munros: 9
Corbetts: 7
Grahams: 6
Donalds: 17
Wainwrights: 176
Hewitts: 109
Sub 2000: 27
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way    Borders Abbeys Way    Fife Coastal Path    Forth & Clyde and Union canal towpath    St Cuthbert's Way    Berwickshire Coastal Path   

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Trips: 38
Munros: 3
Grahams: 2
Donalds: 1
Sub2000s: 11
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Trips: 35
Munros: 1
Corbetts: 2
Grahams: 2
Sub2000s: 5
Hewitts: 17
Wainwrights 24


Trips: 23
Munros: 1
Corbetts: 1
Donalds: 5
Hewitts: 16
Wainwrights 23


Trips: 25
Munros: 2
Corbetts: 2
Grahams: 2
Donalds: 8
Sub2000s: 1
Hewitts: 17
Wainwrights 38


Trips: 20
Munros: 2
Sub2000s: 3
Hewitts: 21
Wainwrights 40


Trips: 16
Corbetts: 1
Sub2000s: 1
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Distance: 90.5 km
Ascent: 395m
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