Tuesday 11 June 2019

An Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Walking the Water of Leith to Stockbridge and Dean Village

This post features a discounted overnight stay at The Malmaison

We realised a few months ago that we hadn't been to Edinburgh since 2014, it's been so long that digging out my old blog post made me cringe with embarrassment - it was written back in the days when sticking a grainy filter on photographs was the done thing (what was I thinking?!)  That trip was a very fast whistle stop tour of the city centre so when we decided to revisit the beautiful Scottish city we knew that this time we wanted to book a hotel stay and visit for a bit longer.

An Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Walking the Water of Leith to Stockbridge and Dean Village

Staying at the Malmaison Edinburgh 

Wanting a slightly alternative weekend in Edinburgh we decided to base ourselves at The Malmaison which, although a couple of miles outside of the city centre, offers the perfect base if you want a really wonderful experience and fancy exploring a part of Edinburgh that you haven't seen before.

The Malmaison is 2 miles outside of the city, offering easy connections to the centre - there are frequent buses that stop close to the hotel, if you love walking there is a beautiful route into the city (more on that later!) or getting an Uber will cost around £7.00. We chose it for the convenience of being able to drive to Edinburgh and take advantage of the free parking at the back of the hotel and for the perfect stay away from the busy pavements of the city centre.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Malmaison Hotel

Despite having visited the Malmaison in Newcastle for many lunch dates, afternoon teas and evenings in the Chez Mal bar, this was actually our very first time staying overnight in the hotel so we couldn't wait to finally enjoy a proper Mal experience.

We checked in and made our way up to our room for the night, a comfortable double with plenty of space and a fully loaded mini bar which I gave Simon strict instructions not to touch!  Looking through the photographs on the website it's interesting to see that all of the rooms in the hotel are decorated in a similar style, so even if you book yourself into the standard room you'll be getting the same high quality of furnishing.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Malmaison
Taking advantage of the residents dining deal which offered us 20% off we decided to book ourselves into the Chez Brasserie for an evening meal, the perfect way to relax on arrival and save ourselves the hassle of attempting to find somewhere else to go.  Having enjoyed many meals at the Malmaison in Newcastle we knew the food would be decent.

Diving straight into the main course I opted for the Chez Mal Smoked Haddock Fish Cake served with spinach, poached Cotswold egg and hollandaise sauce (£14.50) it was really lovely but definitely left me wanting more so I also helped Simon polish off his fries that had arrived as part of his Chez Mal Burger (£17.00)

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Malmaison Restaurant

For me the real star of the show was the dessert and with a delicious looking seasonal menu on offer there were plenty of treats to choose from.  I was feeling very Summery when I opted for the Mango and Passionfruit Cheesecake (£6.50) - a really generous slab with plenty of zingy fruit I tried to eat it slowly to make it last but it vanished before I knew it.  If you're going to order anything at The Malmaison this Summer please let it be that!

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Malmaison Leith

Our room rate included breakfast which was brilliant as we do love getting greedy with a proper hotel breakfast.  What is it about dining in a hotel that makes you gorge on a three (sometimes even four!) course breakfast?

After putting in our Coffee and Toast order we devoured cereals, fruit juices and pastries from the "help yourself" table before tucking into some cooked food. I loved that the Mal offered a few different things on their menu, never a fan of a fry up in the morning I was so chuffed to see that they had Egg and Soldiers on the menu - absolute classic!  It had been so many years since I'd had a boiled egg I was completely transported back to childhood cutting the top off and dunking - delicious!

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Malmaison Leith

Exploring The Port of Leith

The Port of Leith has had a huge amount of regeneration over the last few years and is a wonderful spot to spend the weekend. With The Malmaison directly on the waterfront it was a great place to start our wander and we only had to take a few steps before we were greeted with the most beautiful views across the water.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Port of Leith

We were lucky that our arrival coincided with some sunshine so we could enjoy a very pleasant stroll along the water admiring the architecture. I was getting serious Scandinavian vibes seeing the colourful buildings reflected in the Water of Leith - for a moment I forgot we were in Edinburgh. I passed so many people out strolling with their cameras, it seems I wasn't the only person enjoying taking a few snaps of the beautiful streets.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Leith

Bars and restaurants (including the Michelin Starred The Kitchin) line the water's edge of Leith and you're spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing where to fill your tummy.  Being big fans of sugary treats we decided to pop to Mimi's Bakehouse, somewhere I've been wanting to try for a while and with the Malmaison just a few steps away we had to take advantage.

Their cake counter was bursting with treats but having always wanted to try one of their famous cupcakes I opted for the Chocolate Raspberry Brownie - I actually polished off this cake at 9:30 am, perhaps a little early but I think cake for breakfast is a perfectly acceptable way to begin your weekend.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Mimis Bakehouse

Walking the Water of Leith

We decided to take advantage of our location by the Water of Leith and explore the footpath leading from the Port of Leith towards the centre of Edinburgh. The whole path is 12 miles long and runs from Balerno to Leith but it is easily accessible along the whole route so it's easy to just enjoy whichever sections of the walk you fancy.

Being a bit overly organised I'd dedicated a lot time before our trip researching the Water of Leith pathway and the access points but I really didn't need to, it was so easy to follow with plenty of sign posts directing us down the path and telling us how many miles it was to the next location.
Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Water of Leith

Crossing the bridge from Mimi's Bakehouse at the Port of Leith we turned left and followed the water towards Stockbridge. We loved that it was impossible to get lost, even if we hadn't seen a sign for a while we knew that as long as we could see the water we would end up getting to where we needed to be. We're all about effortless walking routes.

Word of warning if you're planning to do this route yourself, it is very muddy! With a dry forecast I had considered sticking on my sandals but I am so glad that I didn't - parts of the path were thick with mud and I would have had incredibly dirty feet. Although the path is all well made and well trod parts of it wind through woodland with boggy areas and bumpy terrain - sensible shoes are a must.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Water of Leith Walk
We passed so many people along the way - families out on walks, dog walkers and plenty of joggers. Parts of the walk were quite urban passing housing estates and graffiti covered bridges but other parts were so beautiful winding through woodlands and parks - we spotted plenty of wildlife along the way including a heron chilling by the side of the water.

The walk along the water to Stockbridge was around 3 miles and took just over an hour at a leisurely pace. Looking at the route on the map it had seemed like it would be a bit of a walk but it really was effortless, the miles passed easily and it was an absolute joy to make our way there by foot, I'm so glad that we decided to walk.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Water of Leith Path


I had heard that Stockbridge is a beautiful part of Edinburgh to explore, pretty cobbled streets, a wonderful food scene and the style of buildings you associate with Edinburgh but without the footfall.  It's easily found from the Water of Leith footpath and coming up from the quiet of the waterside to the suburbs of Edinburgh was a treat for the senses. So many delicious smells!

Although I had promised Simon that I wouldn't go crazy with the Instagram photographs during our trip to Edinburgh I couldn't resist a visit to Circus Lane in Stockbridge which has to be the most beautiful and therefore the most photographed Edinburgh street. Seeing it with my own eyes having admired it for so long on photographs it did not disappoint.  A beautiful cobbled street filled with vibrant flowers, lovely little cottages and that picture perfect view of the church at the end.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Stockbridge

We danced our way between friends taking snaps, bemused tourists who didn't really understand what the fuss was and people having full on Instagram photo shoots (I'm talking photographers, light reflectors and outfit changes) to find that sweet spot and take a few photographs for our own album.

Even Simon had to admit it was a pretty place and whilst I jumped for joy on the cobbles saying over and over again how gorgeous it was he was off with the camera snapping away at the flower baskets and trying to get the perfect shot. If you're into photography or just love admiring a beautiful street I have to say this is a great place to stop.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Circus Lane
Returning to the main streets of Stockbridge we spent a bit of time mooching about, looking through windows at amazing looking doughnuts, cute bookstores and a cheesemongers. It's definitely the kind of place that I could spend an entire afternoon looking around, however with hungry tummies to feed we were all about finding somewhere great for some lunch.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Circus Lane Stockbridge
There are so many choices of places to head for food in Stockbridge, we were definitely spoilt for choice and it was hard to decide where to go. We eyed up so many dishes of food through windows before deciding on The Pantry, one of Stockbridge's hottest brunch spots. We were very lucky to nab the last table just before noon and settled ourselves down with the menu.

One thing I will say about The Pantry is it's perhaps not the best place to head on a weekend if you want to enjoy a nice peaceful leisurely lunch. The tables were all packed in tightly together, it was so busy that we felt like we were all sitting on top of each other and the service wasn't great. The food however was really good which made up for it.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - The Pantry Stockbridge

Simon had a croissant filled with cheese and ham and I opted for the U.S.A (Ubiquitous Smashed Avocado) (£8.20) - Avocado, Roasted Peppers and a Poached Egg on Sourdough Toast.

Stockbridge is a short 10 minute walk from Edinburgh city centre but we decided to carry on our adventure along the Water of Leith to Dean Village.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Visiting Stockbridge

Dean Village

The walk to Dean Village is just over half a mile from Stockbridge along the Water of Leith path and is well worth the extra few steps.  It is so beautiful!

Originally the home of milling the village was filled with water mills until they fell into disrepair as  industries started to decline.  Dean Village was left untouched for years until it became recognised as a tranquil oasis close to the city centre and restoration works began, turning  the old mills and workers cottages into houses - now Dean Village is one of the most highly sought after residential parts of Edinburgh.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Dean Village
The real beauty of Dean Village is how far removed it feels from city life yet it is only a short 10 minute walk to the bright lights of Edinburgh. The beautiful buildings really do look like something out of a fairytale.

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Dean Village Water of Leith
I'm sure Dean Village used to be a real hidden gem in Edinburgh and although is definitely worth a look it is perhaps not as quiet as it used to be. There were a fair few camera happy tourists trudging through when we visited. I don't think it'd be possible to hang your laundry in privacy if you had a house there that's for sure.

Dean Village is very small and easy to explore and from there it's a short stroll into the centre of Edinburgh where our great adventure came to an end (via some of Edinburgh's famous bars of course, but that's a story for another time!)

Alternative Weekend in Edinburgh - Water of Leith Dean Village

I hope you've enjoyed our little alternative tour of Edinburgh and feel inspired to plan your own trip soon.

Everything contained in this blog post was paid for by us, however the Malmaison at Edinburgh did treat us to a discounted rate for an overnight stay. 


  1. Ah it looks SO gorgeous! I can't believe I've only ever stuck to the city centre when exploring!!

    1. It's so nice to know there are other options isn't it? We loved exploring a different area, it made such a lovely change

  2. This is such a cute walk! I love Edinburgh so so much and Dean Village is one of my favourite places to go.

    The Crown Wings | UK Travel & Lifestyle Blog

    1. I'm so glad I went for a visit, such a beautiful place!

  3. Ahh Edinburgh is just SO beautiful! I love how much history there is everywhere you look, basically. I need to go back soon <3

    1. We're already talking about going back in September for our wedding anniversary!

  4. What a lush place! i've only been to leith once when I accompanied Alan on a sign job ha ha! sounds like the perfect night away

    1. All the glamorous places Alan gets to go with his signs! Love it!

  5. It looks beautiful and despite visiting Edinburgh so many times in the past I had no idea these beautiful places were nearby. It sounds like you had a wonderful weekend x

    1. It was so lovely to explore a different side to the city!


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