The survey by Living Streets gives us even more reasons to fall in love with Edinburgh
Walking is the simplest way to improve our overall health. Making the effort to walk for 30 minutes five times a week can lead to some real benefits to our health and wellbeing, including improving our circulation, lowering our blood pressure, reducing our risk of type 2 diabetes and even improving our mood and helping to deal with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
What makes walking even better, however, is having the option of some fantastic routes to take and places to visit. That’s where Edinburgh comes in, as it turns out Edinburgh is the UK’s ‘most walkable’ city.
It’s no secret that Edinburgh is home to some incredible sites to see, from the famous Edinburgh Castle to the underground catacombs, there are all sorts of places to visit.
The survey by Living Streets aims to discover the ten most walkable cities in the UK by researching the opinions of residents in the UK’s ten largest cities. Citizens were asked how walking friendly they considered their city to be, and the results saw Edinburgh rise to the top of the list.
And the good news for Scotland didn’t stop there, as Glasgow also ranked fifth in the survey, which Living Streets carried out to coincide with the launch of its National Walking Month Initiative. The poll’s entire top ten most walkable cities were Edinburgh, Sheffield, London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Bristol, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Bradford.
Those who were part of the survey were asked about several different areas, including how safe they feel when walking, how close and convenient the shops and amenities are, public transport links and the proximity to local green areas such as parks.
The Living Streets regional director, Stuart Hay, was enthusiastic about the results, and offered his reasoning behind why Glasgow and Edinburgh might have performed so well.
Hay said, “It’s great to see Scotland’s largest cities competing well in terms of walking, compared to other parts of the UK. Glasgow is known as the ‘dear green place’, so it’s no surprise that the city ranks highly and I’d imagine that Edinburgh’s compact shape and historic street patterns help to encourage high levels of walking.”
Hay went on to stress the importance of keeping up the good work and making sure Edinburgh consistently remains a fantastic walking destination in the UK. “Although the survey suggests that there is a healthy amount of people walking in Edinburgh and Glasgow,” he said, “Living Streets Scotland’s work and auditing within this suggests that there is no room for complacency.
“Without more investment, both Edinburgh and Glasgow could easily tumble down the rankings.” Hay also suggested that English cities are taking on ambitious public realm projects in an attempt to catch up.
Lesley Hinds is the city’s transport and environment leader, and she made it clear that the council was committed to maintaining Scotland’s capital city as a pleasant place to walk for residents.
Displaying her enthusiasm for the survey’s results, Hinds said, “This is excellent news, and not only demonstrates how welcoming our beautiful – albeit hilly – city is for pedestrians, but also reinforces our ongoing commitment to encouraging walking as a mode of transport.”
Hinds found the results encouraging for the future of Edinburgh, as more and more people are falling in love with the city and walking around it to see the sites. She said, “As our own counts show, the number of people walking as a way of getting around the capital is growing.
“By investing in initiatives like our network of QuietRoutes, making improvements to pavements and paths across the city and establishing an Active Travel Forum, in addition to the ongoing implementation of 20mph, we hope to see this continue for years to come.”
The excitement and enthusiasm shown by Hinds and Hays regarding the results were shared by others too, including the chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, Roddy Smith. He welcomed the news, saying, “We work hard on making sure people enjoy walking through the city centre, from the management of green spaces like St Andrew Square Garden through to streetscape and through to improving signage. It has all been designed to improve the experience of those moving around the city centre and enjoying all it has to offer.
“We also support ensuring the city centre is as safe and clean as possible, for example through our commitment to good CCTV and through the work of our clean team.
“Edinburgh is a wonderful place to walk around, compact, beautiful, with stunning architecture and wonderful green spaces. Perhaps that is why walking always scores highly in our visitor surveys, and this news is yet another ringing endorsement of the city.”
The survey is just the start of Living Streets’ campaign throughout the month to get people to rate their everyday walks online via their website. This is designed to help the charity build an inclusive, holistic picture of the UK’s walking environment.
When you consider all the amazing places to visit in Edinburgh, it’s no surprise that it came out on top of Living Streets’ survey. But where are the best places that make Edinburgh so walking-friendly?
Princes Street Gardens is the perfect spot for a leisurely walk on a summer’s afternoon. It’s a green and lush haven conveniently located directly opposite Edinburgh’s most popular shopping street, making it an ideal break from an afternoon of retail therapy. You’ll also get fantastic views of Edinburgh Castle, and if you’re lucky you could indulge in an ice cream too!
The Royal Mile is Edinburgh’s most iconic street. Stretching all the way from the Castle gates to the other side of the city, it’s packed to the brim with history, culture and shops. Take a stroll along it and see every aspect of Edinburgh all in one street.
It’s hard to miss Arthur’s Seat: the extinct volcano right in the middle of Scotland’s capital. It makes for an ideal walking destination as there are various routes to tackle it, and the views you get from the peak are simply stunning.
This is the walk for serious walkers, so set aside a day for this scenic trek. Coming in at 12 ¾ miles, the Water of Leith is an all-encompassing trip through the heart of Edinburgh.
Calton Hill is the place to bring someone if you want to introduce them to the city, as when you walk up to the top you get incredible 360 degree views of the entire city. You even have the option of travelling up to the top of Nelson’s monument.
The Union Canal travels right along from the Edinburgh Quay and connects with the Water of Leith, spanning 32 miles in total. It’s become a popular route to the town centre for many residents due to its idyllic atmosphere of swans and canoes lazily floating along the water.
There is a never-ending list of things to see and do in Edinburgh, so you’ll want to always know you’re right at the heart of the action.
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