The Esk Way Project

One of the Esk Valley Trust’s key aims has always been the development and promotion of clear and accessible paths along the rivers Esk from their sources to the sea.

The North Esk river rises in the Pentland hills and the South Esk river in the Moorfoot hills. The two rivers come together at Waters Meet in Dalkeith Country Park and then flow as one to Musselburgh and into the Firth of Forth.

The Trust commissioned a study to research and scope a possible route along the North Esk in 2010. The work was done by consultant Vyv Wood-Gee and is available here in PDF format, along with accompanying maps: Carlops and Penicuik EstatePenicuik to Polton, Polton to Dalkeith Estate.

This report continues to be the background document for achieving a continuous path along the river.

Around three quarters of the proposed pathway along the North Esk follows established paths and tracks. The Trust continues to seek ways to identify agreeable paths for the missing sections with landowners and, over time, to achieve the goal of a truly continuous pathway.

In 2023 the Trustees agreed to label the route along the North Esk river from its source in the Pentlands to its outflow into the Forth at Musselburgh as ‘The Esk Way’ and we plan to have the agreed sections of the path all labelled in 2024

In the early years of the Trust a continuous route along the South Esk and the continuation along the joint rivers to Musselburgh was discussed and explored with Midlothian Council. Supported with funding from the Central Scotland Green Network, Midlothian Council undertook a feasibility study of a route along the South Esk from the head of the river catchment at Gladhouse  Reservoir on the Moorfoot Hills to the mouth of the river in Musselburgh (The feasibility study map is available for download, along with a map showing existing paths).  Unfortunately no further progress has been made since those early days.

Despite this there are good pathways along parts of the South Esk river to be enjoyed.


As sections of the Esk Way are finalised the The Esk Valley Trust have produced downloadable walking leaflets/maps for you to use.  Take a look at these below.