Scots Mag walkers out an about in Edinburgh

Why choose to walk in a town or city, rather than the wonderful Scottish countryside?

It isn’t as weird a decision as it might sound. As gales lash Scotland at this time of year, plans to get up on the high mountains are ruined but that doesn’t mean walking is ruled out completely.

Urban walks are not only more sheltered than a ridge in Glencoe or the Cairngorms, they can also throw up a few surprises.

The delights of the Water of Leith in Edinburgh are a prime example. Here, there are otters (yes, really), kingfishers and heron. I’ve seen them and if you pop into the Water of Leith visitor centre the nice people in there will confirm regular sightings of all sorts of wildlife.

A walk from Roseburn to the visitor centre gives the counter-intuitive feeling of being out of the city even though you are right next to it. While bustling streets, offices and houses are all around it is the trees, shrubs and river which envelop you.

The peace and tranquillity was enjoyed by more than 40 folk on a Scots Mag Hike at the weekend. This was one of the most popular outings of the year, I think because of the good conditions underfoot.

Some run the route we took (returning to the city centre by the Union Canal towpath) but the idea of charging through the scenery, while good for fitness, makes me think much of nature in the city would be missed.

So, if you look out of the window and don’t fancy a trip to the wilds, or even semi-wilds, think about what might be on your doorstep.

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