A Capital Day’s Cycling
Time to go urban and sample some of Edinburgh’s excellent trails and take in the many sights
THERE was a big head of haar rolling up the Forth as we caught our first glimpse of the bridge tops from Dunfermline. It seemed as if we’d made a counter-intuitive decision, heading into the foggy heart of Edinburgh on a hot Sunday, when everyone else looked to be leaving for the hills.
It can be the fate of those of us who live on the sunny side of Scotland that occasionally, when a day gets too hot, the haar rolls in and we lose a fine day. But the fog is as fickle as it is fast-moving, and despite a drop of 10 degrees on the A90, by the time we’d parked up at the waterfront in Leith it had all disappeared and the sunglasses were back on.
Our route followed two of Edinburgh’s many fab signposted cycle paths, the NCN 75 and the 1. The city is riddled with shared and dedicated bike paths, easily linked together to take you out of the centre in any number of directions, or just around it, as we were going today. It’s a real treat to ride through the capital on these ribbons of unusually verdant land.
I’ll be honest, we started by getting lost. Urban cycling obviously gives you much more opportunity to do this, and before we knew it we were panicking on Princes Street. But although the traffic had been busy on the routes in and out, the city centre was uncharacteristically relaxed – everybody was on foot or bike.
Mike’s partner Suchi was disgruntled that we’d climbed stiffly to get there – nobody likes an unnecessary hill – but it made for a fun descent down the cobbles of Scotland Street, which were too bumpy for me to catch a glimpse of number 44.
Mike had us back on track almost immediately and we cruised along to Stockbridge and the Sunday market. Normally I feel blessed to find a tea room at any point on a ride, but at no point in the whole afternoon were we more than 500 metres (1640ft) from refreshments, although I don’t think Mike had counted on as many stops as I made. Crepes. Brownies. Another cake. Ice cream. It seemed likely I’d end up taking on more calories than I’d burn.
The Water of Leith path was gorgeous, though busy paths meant a lot of stops,
“I’ll be honest, we started by getting lost
Distance: 23km (14.3 miles)Ascent: 230m (754ft)Maps: OS Explorer 350 & Landranger 66. It is well signposted, but if you need a map the Explorer is better for the dense urban routefinding.Parking: There’s a multi-storey at Ocean Terminal, or limited on-street parking down near the docks.