The old railway bridge across Leith Walk between Jane Street and Manderston Street was constructed in the early 1900s by the Caledonian Railway as part of their “New Leith Line”, a circuitous route from their north Edinburgh suburban network to Leith docks. Although they had ambitious intentions, these were never fully realised and the line was only ever used for freight until it was closed in the late 1960s. The main lattice girder span across Leith Walk itself was removed after closure, but the abutments are still visible on either side of the road.
The arched approach viaducts on either side are still there, too, with business premises built into the arches. I’d been thinking for a long time that I’d like to get up onto one of those viaducts for a look, but I’d never got around to trying. Then, as we were passing by on our way somewhere else last weekend, I remembered about the line and since we weren’t in a hurry, we decided to stop for a nose around.
I was very glad we did – only a few moments later I found myself on the far side of a security fence, walking along the overgrown former track bed on top of the viaduct on the west (Jane Street) side! There wasn’t much of the railway itself left to see, but I was able to walk right along to the abutment and look across to the one on the east side, as well as looking down onto Jane Street and onto Leith Walk itself from an unusual vantage point.
Since this was an unplanned trip I didn’t have my SLR with me and was only able to take photos on my phone. Thankfully, since the light was relatively good, they mostly didn’t come out too badly.
Not the longest or most exciting of explores, but as always it was very satisfying to explore another part of Edinburgh’s railway heritage that most people don’t get to see, and to look down over the streets of my home city from a different viewpoint.