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Living in Balerno: The Local Area Guide

Bordered by the Water of Leith and the Pentland Hills, Balerno sits in an area of natural beauty just seven miles away from Edinburgh’s scenic city centre. This suburb is part of Pentland Hills Ward along with neighbouring Currie, and falls under the jurisdiction of the City of Edinburgh. Despite being considered part of the city, Balerno has a traditional village atmosphere and residents enjoy a rural setting dotted with green fields and sheep. The name is thought to have been derived from the Gaelic ‘Baile Airneach,’ which means hawthorn farm.

A settlement has been here since at least the 1200s, with Balerno having grown to a bustling village of 1000 residents by 1850. When the railway arrived in 1874, Balerno was connected along the Water of Leith to Edinburgh and started to grow into the popular dormitory suburb that it is today. Modern Balerno offers a handful of shops and services along with traditional public houses, bank branches, and churches. It’s also home to the fragrant Malleny Garden, a well-tended walled garden operated by the National Trust for Scotland.


The population in Balerno was recorded at 5,748 in 2013. Balerno is part of Pentland Hills Ward, which covers the far south west area of Edinburgh. This includes neighbouring areas Currie, Riccarton Mains, and Ratho.

Pentland Hills has a lower unemployment rate in comparison to the rest of Scotland, at a rate of just over 2%. There’s also a lower percentage of those not in work due to ill health and disability. Approximately 14% of Pentland Hills Ward residents report having a limiting illness. In 2009, 7.6% of Balerno residents claimed Key Benefits, in comparison to a rate of 17.6% nationwide. Residents of Balerno enjoy a high level of material living standards, and are healthier than the national average. The crime levels in Pentland Hills Ward are also lower than the Scottish average, making Balerno a safe and secure area.


Balerno is a popular home base for families in Edinburgh. Dean Park Primary School is on hand for the town’s youngest residents. Built in 1972, it is co-educational and non-denominational. The school role currently comprises 18 classes at Primary 1-7, as well as two nursery classes. Facilities include outdoor play areas and learning spaces, including an eco-garden which doubles as an outdoor classroom.

After completing P7, students move on to Balerno High School. This secondary school serves students from Balerno and the surrounding countryside. Strengths identified by Education Scotland include high quality pastoral provision, enthusiastic pupils, and highly effective teaching.


The suburb is well-served by public transport and motorways alike. The A70 road runs right near the village, with the City of Edinburgh Bypass just a few miles away. Glasgow is easily accessible via the M8 motorway, and Edinburgh Airport is a short drive to the north.

Balerno residents benefit from Edinburgh’s convenient transport system. Lothian Buses provides service into Edinburgh with the 44A bus route, passing through Currie, Slateford, and onto Edinburgh city centre. The nearest railway station can be found next door in Currie, with links to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Edinburgh’s Waverley Station also provides numerous daily services to dozens of nationwide destinations.

Amenities and shopping

Balerno’s town centre offers an array of conveniences and Amenities and shopping. There’s a branch of the Co-operative supermarket for day-to-day groceries and home goods. Balerno also is home to a bike repair shop, a florists, a stationery shop, a yarn shop, and a hardware store. The Balerno Pharmacy is on hand to assist with health and beauty concerns, and there are additional independent shops and eateries in Currie just a few minutes away. Westside Plaza shopping centre is just 4 miles up the road, featuring a Gala Bingo and a Cineplex as well as a bevy of shops.

All of the famous shopping opportunities and attractions of central Edinburgh are within easy reach, including the modern Ocean Terminal shopping mall in Leith. Princes Street hosts many world-famous brands, from Topshop to Marks and Spencer.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact

All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.

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