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Guest Blog: A Glimpse of Edinburgh’s Many Faces by Bike Path; By Claire Connachan

This month’s guest blogger is Claire of  ‘Claire Cycles  – Adventures of an Edinburgh pootler’.  A convert to the world of the bicycle for commuting, utility and leisure, she’s been cycling around the city for just under two years and is keen to encourage more people to jump on their bikes. Claire took advantage of a glorious Sunday in March and put together a safe, scenic cycle ride that I can’t wait to try for myself…

A Glimpse of Edinburgh’s Many Faces by Bike Path (words and photos by Claire Connachan)

Glorious weather in winter is reasonably rare in Edinburgh. We’re much more accustomed to driving rain, wind and the occasional dump of snow. So when I tweaked the curtains this morning to see the city squinting from solid, unrelenting sunshine there was only one thing to do. Go for a ride.

I plotted out a route with my trusty SPOKES Edinburgh cycle map (well worth the six quid price tag!) and set out in the late morning with a belly full of porridge and tea.

Starting at the Union Canal, I pootled along the towpath. There were loads of other folk out enjoying the weather, so the going was slow but idyllic. Anyway, the towpath is hardly the place to be tearing along at a rate of knots and is the perfect route to soak up the urban scenery. The house boats at Harrison Park are a particular highlight.

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You can stop here at the Zazau house boat for a cuppa and cake.

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The boat house at Harrison Park, a local landmark.

Just past Longstone there’s a bridge connecting to the Water of Leith path that will eventually take you to Balerno. No cars, no junctions, no nonsense. Just straight up and over to the path.

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The view back to the canal from the bridge. You’d hardly think you were in a city!

I took the Water of Leith path up along the river, which was gurgling away in the sunshine quite the thing. There are a few paths and such that lead off the route, so still plenty to explore there for another day. Then there’s a fabulous railway tunnel, dark and exciting and echoey and old.

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Light at the end of the tunnel.

Just after the tunnel there’s a tiny wee pothole-laden road that takes you over another bridge and into Colinton. One right-turn onto Redford Road and then there’s another tucked away path that you’d go right past if you didn’t know it was there.

This took me through a part of the city I am very unfamiliar with and I got lost several times. In true tourist fashion I had to whip out my trusty map and make sure I was on the right track. Essentially, you follow the Braid Burn through Colinton Mains Park, then the Braidburn Valley Park and out into Greenbank. It’s all path the whole way. No traffic. Yippee!

Then on to the Hermitage of Braid. I only recently discovered the Hermitage and what a revelation it was. The route through makes you feel like you are in the middle of the wooded countryside, with a babbling burn and trees stretching to the sky. But you’re still in the city.

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Beautiful burn in the sunshine.

Stately homes since gifted to Edinburgh are plentiful on this route. One example in the Hermitage of Braid.

Stately homes since gifted to Edinburgh are plentiful on this route. One example in the Hermitage of Braid.

The Hermitage takes you out to the back of Blackford. As a west-of-the-city girl my knowledge of the south is pretty poor. Even so, you don’t expect to see a huge tract of farmland and fields. So many different views and landscapes and less than halfway around the route. Edinburgh really is an amazing place.

This is still the city. Just behind Blackford, on Blackford Glen Road.

This is still the city. Just behind Blackford, on Blackford Glen Road.

A quick traffic-light-controlled junction later and I was back on path again, taking a gander through Inch Park and then up past Craigmillar Castle (sadly you can’t see it from the path). The views were stunning, so I tried my best to take a snap with my iPhone. But it doesn’t really capture the vista to be honest.

Look at my stunning city!

Look at my stunning city!

I followed the path to its conclusion, took a right and (again all completely away from traffic) made my way down to the Brunstane burn to encounter more fields and countryside and wilderness… But still in the city.

This is an older photo of me on the same path. All the same fields and stuff!

This is an older photo of me on the same path. All the same fields and stuff!

Next stop was Portobello, where I filled up on lunch and had a cup of tea. Of course, after seeing extinct volcanoes, giant trees, rivers and burns, parks and fields I would have to take a snap of the beach.

Sun, sand and no sangria. But copious cups of tea in Portobello.

Sun, sand and no sangria. But copious cups of tea in Portobello.

There was more path involved to leave Portobello and eventually come out at Granton. Path, path, path with only a small piece of road to negotiate before getting onto, yep you guessed it, path. You hug the coast all the way along to Cramond. It was glorious because of the views across the waters. Depending on where you are along the route, you can also see the Forth bridges in the distance.

What a great view to Fife from Edinburgh.

What a great view to Fife from Edinburgh.

The beach on the way to Cramond.

The beach on the way to Cramond.

A wiggle through Barton via more path and residential streets and I eventually made it home, one fantastic Edinburgh adventure under my belt. Thank you so much lovely, glorious bike!

The trusty steed triumphs again.

The trusty steed triumphs again.

So there you have it. One 27 mile route from the Union Canal down to Cramond, taking in pretty much every type of environment or view you can think of. Desert and mountain didn’t feature, but a whole range of other sights did. Aren’t Edinburgh cyclists spoiled for some beautiful views?

Here is the route mapped. Try some of it for yourself.

It’s almost entirely off main roads. All those stunning views with no cars, no traffic, no impatient drivers or jams or engines revving. Absolute bliss for a pootler like myself. I’d say about 5% needs to be negotiated with a regular flow of traffic – namely Seaview Terrace (Porty), Lower Granton Road and Redford Road.

Route Pros

  • Views and a big range of environments
  • No major hills or exhausting climbs
  • Very little traffic to deal with
  • Never far from help in case of mechanical disaster
  • Did I mention the views?

Route cons

  • Very busy with dogs (sorry dog owners, but I fear dogs off the lead as they are unpredictable)
  • Route is quite muddy in places – not suitable for skinny tyres

Have you done any of this Edinburgh route? Got any favourite parts? Let Claire know in the comments of her original POST.

And please follow Claire’s Blog, ‘CLAIRE CYCLES‘ to find out more about cycling in Edinburgh, for commuting, pleasure and leisure.

 

 

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