River Esk Walkway


A 3km linear riverside path, tarmaced for all of its length. Benches and litter bins exist along its length.

Natural history

Just as the scenes change as you walk along the river, so does the wildlife. At the river mouth, you can look across the mudflats at low tide and watch wading birds feeding, or listen out for the calls of long-tailed and eider ducks during the spring. Up to 200 mute swans gather here in the mid-summer and early autumn to moult.

In the town, there are typical riverside birds such as mallard and swan. But look out also for grey wagtails running along the walls or swallows, house martins and swifts hunting for insects above the river.

Upriver, The Grove is heavily scented in spring, as wild garlic, garlic mustard and few-flowered leek all grow here. Old willows twist and turn their way toward the sky along the banks. Not only are they spectacular to look at, but they also perform a useful task, helping to hold the riverbank together against the scouring effect of the river. Some of the younger willows here have been planted for this purpose. Kingfishers have nested in the western bank of the river along the Grove, and are often seen in winter exploring this part of the river. Dippers nest under the bridges, and herons stalk their fish prey in the quieter pools. You may be lucky enough to see salmon leaping up the ladder at the old weir, or if you are really lucky, an otter. Although they are very shy, otters have been seen here with increasing regularity, whilst mink, once a common sight, are becoming increasingly rare.


How to get there

By bus

Musselburgh is served by two bus companies. From Edinburgh First Bus operate the 124/X5 and X29/129 Lothian Regional Transport services and numbers 15, 26, 44. Get off at the bridge over the River Esk.

By car

Coming into Musselburgh from the A1, head for the High Street. A small car park is located just off the High Street on Shorthope Street, which gives ready access to the river.

Parking charges

Parking charges may apply.

By bicycle

The route forms part of the National Cycle Route 1. It is tarmaced along its entirety.