Water of Leith

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Leith, Water of, a small river of Edinburghshire, formed by several burns of Midcalder parish that rise among the Pentlands at altitudes of from 1250 to 1400 feet above sea-level. Thence it winds 23¾ miles northeastward, through or along the borders of Midcalder, Kirknewton, Currie, Colinton, St Cuthbert's, and North and South Leith parishes, till it falls into the Firth of Forth between the heads of the E and W piers of Leith harbour. Its chief tributary is Bavelaw Burn, flowing into it at Balerno; and its other tributaries are small but numerous, mostly from the Pentlands. Its volume varies, according to the weather, from the insignificance of a brook to the importance of a considerable river; and its velocity, over most of its course, in times of freshet, is impetuous. Its water-power, for the driving of corn, paper, and other mills, is economised by such a multitude of dams as to exceed the water-power of any other stream of its size in Scotland. The trout-fishing in its lower reaches has long been destroyed by the action of the mills; and that in its upper reaches used to be excellent, but has greatly deteriorated through extension of the Edinburgh water-works. Its banks, over the greater part of its course, are beautifully picturesque, ranging from romantic glen to meadowy plain, and abounding in rocks and woods, in parks and elegant mansions. The last 5½ miles of its course lie through the parliamentary burghs of Edinburgh and Leith; and the most striking feature here, the Dean Bridge, is noticed in our article on the former city.—Ord. Sur., sh. 32, 1857.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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