Water of Leith

April was 30 days of biking

On the 1st of April the weather was horrific. Rain was coming down in sheets and as I looked out the window to gauge the day I was not impressed. The weather was so poor I would have normally jumped on the bus.

But not on 1st April 2o14. I had signed up to complete #30daysofbiking, a pledge to ride your bike every day for the month of April and to be part of a community of joyful cyclists. It’s a couple of years old now and has spread like wildfire, consuming the bike-minded first in the US and now across the pond.

30 days of biking

So I slung on the waterproofs and braved the elements because of my pledge. That was the only reason I dealt with the horrible conditions. And as it always is, cycling in the rain was just about as good as cycling in the dry. So began my #30daysofbiking.

April was a good month to cycle every day. My daily commute was absolutely splendid in the spring sunshine.

Davidsons Mains Park

Good morning, Davidson’s Mains Park!

Daffodils on Victoria Path

Spring is out in force, with daffodils on Victoria Path

Victoria Park Edinburgh

The Victoria Park in the sunshine

I signed up to volunteer at the Scottish Bike Show along with other CTC members and was treated to some seriously lovely looking bike candy to drool over. Look at that Shand hand-built bike, isn’t it gorgeous?

Shand bike

Drool drool drool.

I did a couple of short rides in Glasgow, one out to the Emirates Arena (for said Bike Show) and the other down to Pollockshaws to meet South West Community Cycles. The folk there were absolutely lovely and I hope their venture is a real success for the south of Glasgow. They are also right next to Pollock Park, which is a joy to cycle through.

Pollock Park, Glasgow

Pollock Park is stunning in the sunshine

I also got the opportunity to explore more of my own city and went down some of the paths and nooks I’d never ventured down before.

Water of Leith path

A sidestep off from the Water of Leith path

tunnel on path

Spooky…

I also took the time to enjoy the tried and tested routes I do all the time in our beautiful city. Instead of just belting along the paths I spent time soaking up the view and noticing lots of new things about my routes. Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to live in such a wonderful place, but a quick jaunt on the bicycle always reminds me.

Roseburn path

Overlook to Murrayfield from the Roseburn Path

The Water of Leith

The Water of Leith

I managed to squeeze in a longer ride with the lovely Belles on Bikes, as per my previous blog post. And I also fitted in a bit of cycle campaigning by attending Pedal on Parliament with lots of friends and colleagues.

PoP group shot

Pedal on Parliament crew, ready for some campaigning

Last (but by no means least) I acquired a new bike. Welcome to the Orbit tourer, which I already love dearly. It’s had a bit of a makeover since it came into my ownership, and I look forward to spending some cracking hours in the saddle with this cracking bike.

Ladies' Orbit tourer

Oh dear me, I love this touring bike!

Suffice to say, April was a pretty decent month as far as pedalling goes. Long rides, short rides, bicycle events, even a new bike! The pledge to ride every day was a real incentive to get out more. I made conscious decisions to fit a cycle in daily (except one, sadly) and found that it’s in fact extremely easy to do.

So I think I will be doing my #30daysofbiking next year too – and I will try to get full marks next time. Happy cycling!

 

 

A glimpse of Edinburgh’s many faces by bike path

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.

canal at Harrison Park Edinburgh

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

boat house canal edinburgh

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.

view of Edinburgh canal from bridge

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.

Tunnel on Water of Leith path to Balerno

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.

Braid Burn in Hermitage of Braid Edinburgh

Beautiful burn in the sunshine.

Hermitage of Braid Edinburgh

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.

Fields and farmland on Blackford Glen Road Edinburgh

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.

Arthurs Seat from Craigmillar Castle Edinburgh

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.

Brunstane Burn path

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.

portobello beach

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.

View across to Fife from Silverknowes

What a great view to Fife from Edinburgh.

View to Cramond Edinburgh

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

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 me know in the comments 🙂