Edinburgh’s Hidden Village within the City: Dean Village

Hidden Village in Edinburgh

A cluster of houses in Dean village, taken from Dean Bridge

A flock of birds rises out of Dean Village, which is hidden in a valley beneath Dean Bridge.

Nestled among the trees in a valley under a bridge lies Edinburgh’s hidden village. Travelers passing from above may miss Dean Village; if you don’t know what to look for, there’s a good chance you won’t find it. The entrance from the busy road above that leads down into the valley is both nondescript and ordinary. It’s not that the entrance is hidden; it’s that at first glance, there isn’t a compelling reason to follow it. It’s just another road among the network of city streets in the heart of Edinburgh.

There aren’t large signs advertising where you are. Other than the road sign mounted to the side of nearby Dean Bridge, the next sign a visitor might see indicating that they have stumbled upon something special is a laminated piece of printer paper attached to a fence by zip ties at the bottom of the road, advertising for a £4 walking tour of Dean Cemetery, located over the ridge at the opposite end of the village.

That’s how we knew we were in the right place. Our next clue was the medieval cottages from across a narrow cobblestone street bridging the Water of Leith river that runs through the hidden village. Following the street down past the housing and occasional occupant of the village, we came across a footpath leading along the river.

Water of Leith Footpath

A Blue Heron staring at a waterfall in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

According to a man we met, this is a Blue Heron. And according to the internet, they’re rare in the UK. He stared at this waterfall for what seemed like forever.

The river is broken by the occasional waterfall, and is populated by at least one blue heron, a tall gangly bird we spotted standing in the middle of the stream, staring at the waterfall as if in contemplation. Following the path further, we came upon a dead end, blocked off by the city council due to a landslide from the edge of the overlooking cemetery. A sign in front of the road block explains that the path may be unstable, and that there are fallen trees hanging across the path that have yet to be cleared.

Despite the warning, it is clear that the path is still used by hikers out for a stroll. The gate has been propped up on one end to allow passage, and we could see two fishermen casting their lines from the closed path ahead. Deciding to risk it, we ducked under the barricade and followed the path to its end.

Coming out at the end, we could see Edinburgh’s Museum of Modern Art, neighbor to Dean Cemetery. Checking the gates, they were locked. It was past 5:00 pm, and the cemetery was closed. We looped back around the cemetery and found a set of wooden stairs leading back down to the path, before the blockade.

How to Find Dean Village

As if to pay homage to its concealed nature, Edinburgh’s hidden village is not that easy to find on Google Maps. Searching for “Dean Village” reveals a misplaced marker on almost exactly the opposite end of Princes Street as where it should belong. Locating the correct location under satellite view invites even further imagery of the unknown. One must strain to make out the details of the village, which is shrouded under a black fog.

With that in mind, we have included a map here, which we have labelled with points of interest and the easiest path to find the village from Princes Street.

Dean Village is only about ten minutes by foot from Princes Street, and is easy to find once you know where to look.

Photos of Dean Village:

The Water of Leith leading towards some cottages

Taken moments after we entered Dean Village.


Clothing hanging to dry outside, framed by an arch

A clothes lines can be spotted through this arch in the village.


Stone cottage window

A cute cottage window.


Green door at end of path

A green door nestled away at the end of a brick path.


Are there any hidden spots in your city?


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  • Oooh a blue heron! There are actually a couple of blue herons that live in a marshy area near my house in Mississauga, ON….apparently they aren’t uncommon in Ontario! How lovely that you got to see one perched by a waterfall. Looks like a cute village, great photos!

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