Forthquarter Park – scenically linking the coast to the city centre

Have you been down and explored some of the new areas in Granton Waterfront? Tucked in behind Edinburgh College’s Granton campus is Forthquarter Park – one of Edinburgh’s newest parks and car-free transport links, linking Silverknowes Promenade with the north Edinburgh paths.

It was several years in the making, having been landscaped and planted up long before it opened so as to give the trees and shrubs time to mature, and then the opening was delayed due to concerns about the water quality in the burn, which runs through the park. It partially opened in 2008 and has been fully open to the public for a couple of years now. It runs from Waterfront Avenue in the east to West Shore Road, ending some 100m from Silverknowes Promenade.

The 20 acre site had long been sealed off, having previously been part of the Granton gas works, where coal was converted to town gas, meaning there was much land decontamination to be done. The statistics sound quite impressive – 800 semi-mature birch trees planted, 15,000 shrubs, 43,000m2 of new grassland, a new stream (the previously-culverted Caroline Burn), several bridges, a large and deep lake (formally a quarry) with a viewing platform, meandering gravel tracks and a central tarmac path. All at a cost of £20m. There is woodland, copse, grassland and wetland, and it’s already a haven for wildlife – deer have been spotted there. Although it is only a few years old, you would be forgiven for thinking it had always been that way.

If you cycle through it, take the time to get off your bike and explore on foot – it’s well worth it and the three minutes it takes to cycle from one end to the other means you are likely to miss out if you don’t, or if your eye is drawn to the views across the Firth of Forth or the old gas tower by mistake. It’s impeccably looked after – the paths had even been gritted.

I am reliably informed that cycling is allowed through the park, but there is nothing formal to connect the path through the park to the rest of the cycle network and no signage to direct you there, which is a shame as it is a perfect connection onwards from town to Silverknowes/Cramond and it would take very little thought or investment to connect it up seamlessly – in fact, with this newly-opened link, we now have an almost uninterrupted and incredibly scenic urban off-street corridor from the city centre all the way along the coast. Hopefully, the next edition of the Innertube map will include it.

If you want to read more about the landscaping that went on, check out the Landscape Institute’s website (they gave it an award)

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