Posted by & filed under Travel Country: Scotland.


A Scottish friend of mine, Judy, who used to live in Edinburgh, told me about Dean Village and advised me to do part of the Water of Leith walk. I’d been to Edinburgh three or four times in the past but had never heard of the village. So it piqued my interest and I was looking forward to exploring it.

Like me, not too many people know about this little village, hidden away from the rest of the world. Even though it’s only a 10 minute walk from Princes Street, it’s still very central and a lovely place to get lost in. I haven’t seen it mentioned in any guide books or in the tourist office but it’s definitely worth a detour from any visits to the Fringe or Book festivals or the like.

The history of the village can be traced as far back as 1128. It was originally named the ‘Village Of The Water Of Leith’ but its current name, came from the meaning of the word Dean or ‘Dene’ meaning deep valley, as it lies thirty metres below the city of Edinburgh. Up until the 19th century, it was once a thriving, industrial village, with eleven mills, which were powered by the fast flowing river. The ‘Baxters’ or bakers guild provided the whole of Edinburgh and the surrounding villages with meal but the larger flour mills in Leith eventually made them redundant.

There are many reminders of the baxters of Dean in the form of stone carvings and inscriptions above door lintels. On Brae Bridge, there is a stone carving apparently of two crossed ‘peels’ which date from 1643 and represent the paddles used for taking bread from a hot oven. The village is a popular residential area now and a friend of mine that I met recently has been living there for quite a while. The hundred foot tall, four arched Dean Bridge, which spans the Water of Leith was opened in 1831. It replaced the earlier route with its steep climbs down to the village and back.

The area boasts two galleries: the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and Dean Gallery. These are found within a short walking distance of Belford Road. Dean Cemetery, nearby, has one of Edinburgh’s famous people buried there – Sir Thomas Bouch, who engineered the first Tay Bridge. The Water of Leith Walkway, stretching 19.6 km, which was my main reason for visiting the village, starts in Balerno and continues on through the village to Leith. I wanted to do the stretch between Dean Village and Stockbridge.