EDINBURGH'S BEST DOG WALKS
Updated: Nov 7, 2020
Here in Edinburgh, we are blessed to be surrounded by fantastic places to walk our beloved dogs. From beautiful beaches to breath taking hills, and from stunning country estates to enchanting forest walks, we have our pick of great locations to explore with our dogs.
However, if you are new to the area or just new to having a dog, finding these places isn't always as easy as you would like.
As a professional dog walker in Edinburgh, knowing where dogs love to go is my job! I've written this blog to share some of my favourite dog walking spots with you, in the hope you will get as much enjoyment from them as I do with my Clan!
DOG FRIENDLY BEACHES IN EDINBURGH
CRAMOND BEACH & ISLAND
By far, my favourite beach in Edinburgh is Cramond Beach. Situated around 5 miles north west of the city centre, it is a real hidden treasure.
There is a large, free car park situated behind The Cramond Inn which has around 150 parking spaces. There are also public toilets situated close to the car park.
You can access the beach from the car park via steps or a ramp and there is a promenade around 2 miles long if you don't want to go down to the beach itself - making Cramond very accessible to all abilities. Halfway along the promenade is a dog friendly cafe called The Boardwalk Beach Club. You can also choose to walk along the River Almond Walkway from the main car park, and there is also a great dog friendly cafe there called the Cramond Falls Cafe.
Cramond's real 'jewel in the crown' for dog walkers however, is most definitely Cramond Island. The island is only accessible during low tide, via a causeway that is around 1 mile long. The island itself is about 1/3 of a mile long with lots of exciting sights and smells for your dog to explore. The causeway begins just a few minutes walk from the main carpark and it is essential that you check tide times before you set off to avoid getting stranded on the island for around 8 hours! I would allow around half an hour to walk over to the island if you are of reasonable fitness, and another half hour to return. Ideally, give yourself another hour to explore the island itself. There are usually two safe crossing times per day which usually last around 4 hours each.
You can check the safe crossing times for Cramond Island here.
*Please note that at the time of writing this blog, access to Cramond Island is currently prohibited because of Covid 19 restrictions. Hopefully this restriction will be lifted soon. Contact Edinburgh City Council for more details.
Portobello has always been a firm favourite for dogs owners of Edinburgh. Situated a few miles East of the City Centre, it is around 2 miles long. Like Cramond, it is also dog friendly all year round.
There is free parking available on side streets adjacent to the beach, however these are fewer in number than Cramond has to offer. Please also be mindful not to accidentally block vital access routes for locals and emergency vehicles when parking close to the beach.
Generally Portobello beach is busier than Cramond so it's advisable to keep your dog on lead there unless they have fantastic recall - the lure of beach picnics and BBQs can be too much for some dogs to resist!
If you're making a day of it, I'd recommend a walk along Portobello High Street to make a visit to Bross Bagels, a fantastic, local bagel and coffee chain who are dog friendly.
If you're thinking of taking a drive out of the city centre, I'd highly recommend checking out Gullane Beach with your dog. Close to North Berwick, it's around a 40 minute drive from Leith.
There is a large car park which charges a very reasonable £2 to park for the day (you can use your Ringo app to pay) - just type 'Gullane Bents Car Park' into your SatNav and that should get you there. There are public toilets about a 2 minute walk from the main car park and there is usually a lovely ice cream van by the car park offering hot drinks as well as ice cream and soft drinks.
You can walk from Gullane Beach all the way to North Berwick when the tide allows, which is a beautiful walk on a sunny day. It's around 6 miles each way and you get really amazing views across the sea to Fife.
OTHER DOG FRIENDLY WALKS IN EDINBURGH
One of my favourite dog walking spots in West Edinburgh is Corstorphine Hill, mainly because it is so accessible from different locations.
I usually park at the top of Kaimes Road, where it meets Cairnmuir Road, as there are some car parking spaces there (around 8 spaces). Parking is free here. There is also a small, free car park (again, around 8 spaces) just off Clermiston Road North by Barnton Quarry. You could also park at the top of Balgreen Road, close to where it meets Corstorphine Road and access the hill via the gate on the other side of the main road.
Corstorphine Hill is the most westerly of Edinburgh's 'Seven Hills', and there are so many routes you can take that will give you variety no matter how often you go there. There are 3 large fields that your dog can have a great run around on, but please be aware that they sit parallel to Clermiston Road which can be very busy, so only allow your dog off here if they have good recall.
There are so many parts of Corstophine Hill to explore with your dog, including the Tower, the Walled Garden, the 'Rest and Be Thankful' viewpoint and the three main paths (top, middle and bottom).
As you would expect, there can be a lot of wildlife around the hill, from deer to rabbits, so stay alert if your dog has a tendency to chase! Occasionally you can also also meet horses, mainly on the lower path.
Another of my favourite spots to go with the Clan is Blackford Hill. We usually either park in the large, free carpark at the top of Observatory Road or in the small, free car park off Midmar Drive.
If you park at the top of Observatory Road, you can walk to the top of Blackford Hill in less than 10 minutes - a short walk for very spectacular views of Edinburgh Castle, Arthur's Seat and the whole city.
You can then follow some steps down to the Hermitage of Braid and the Braid Burn - an ideal spot on a warmer day as it is well shaded and your dog can have a paddle in the shallow burn. There are many benches to stop and rest and this whole area is very beautiful to explore.
As with Corstorphine Hill, you can meet a lot of wildlife here on your walk - we have met deer, rabbits and squirrels in the past.
Harlaw Reservoir is another of my very favourite places to take the Clan on our adventures. Situated at the foot of the Pentlands, it is about 8 miles south west of the city centre.
There is a good sized, free car park and a public toilet close by in the small visitor centre. To walk around the reservoir is about a 3.4 mile loop which usually takes us around an hour to complete. It's a fairly flat walk with a good path for accessibility. You can go off the main path and walk through the woods which lie between that and the reservoir itself. If you want to extend the walk, Threipmuir Reservoir is situated right next to Harlaw Reservoir and makes for a nice addition to the normal loop.
It is unusual to come across much wildlife here, we mainly encounter birds but horse riders on the main path are fairly common, and from April-September there are a lot of people fishing on the side of the reservoir.
There are several other routes you can explore from the same car park, including the walk to Glencorse Reservoir which is around a 6-8 mile round trip, depending on your return route. If you choose to go on this walk it is well signposted and the views are stunning, but be aware you will cross through fields with livestock and you are required to keep your dog on lead at certain parts.
VOGRIE COUNTRY PARK
Vogrie Country Park is situated in Gorebridge, Midlothian and is about a 30 minute drive from west Edinburgh.
There is a large car park which charges £2 to exit, regardless of time spent there. The machine only accepts cash so make sure you take two pound coins with you when you visit! There are also two sets of public toilets, one in the main carpark and one by the children's playground.
The Country Park is around 105 hectares of parkland and woods, with a stunning 19th century mansion, a small gold course, an adventure playground for children and a dog friendly cafe. It really is a great place to go for a long walk with your dog as there are over 11 miles of signed, countryside paths to explore.
As you may expect, a lot of wildlife can be found at Vogrie, including deer, rabbits and squirrels. You can also meet the occasional horse rider so keep your eyes peeled!
There are many other great locations in and around Edinburgh that I regularly explore with my Clan on our adventures, but hopefully these will have given you some inspiration to get started with.
If you do try any of them out, please let us know in the comments whether you enjoyed them and if you'd like to know any more about Clan Canines, check out our website here.