Friday, 21 June 2019
In choosing a route for this year's summer solstice ride, I claim no points for originality. After looking for inspiration in various maps, I decided we could do no better than repeat the very pleasant run that we had this time last year. And why not? It was an attractive route, with a good mix of water, greenery and views – too good not to do again.
Eleven of us gathered at our usual spot in Middle Meadow Walk. It was a lovely bright evening. We set off at 7 pm, heading west down Lauriston Place, past the Usher Hall and across Lothian Road to Festival Square. A bit more weaving took us through the West End. We crossed the Water of Leith by way of the Belford Road bridge, pedalled past the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art to Ravelston Dykes, then down Garscube Terrace to join the Roseburn Path at Coltbridge.
We stayed on the path only as far as the Craigleith path junction (familiar to most of us as the starting point for some of our Extra rides). We then freewheeled down Craigleith Hill Avenue into Inverleith Park. After pausing to admire the particularly nice view of the Edinburgh skyline in the evening light, we continued round the sides of the Royal Botanic Garden to rejoin the bike path at Goldenacre. A few moments later we were at Five Ways, and then on the Hawthornvale Path to Lindsay Road. We had a long-ish stop by the cruise liner terminal, where we could just about glimpse the Royal Yacht Britannia in the middle distance. It's a pity that the public can't get a closer view of this magnificent vessel other than by buying a ticket. (We might have got closer, but unfortunately the Ocean Terminal was in the way.)
Waterfront and Shore
The next leg took us along a stretch of the Leith waterfront and the Shore (sorry about the cobbles). We soon reached the Water of Leith path, with the river looking particularly peaceful in the evening light. We left the path at St Mark's Park, passing the site of the recently-demolished Powderhall refuse depot. And what an improvement there is to the landscape now that that unlovely building has gone (happily, the Grade B listed office building and former stables have survived and are being refurbished).
We continued along McDonald Road, across Leith Walk and on to London Road. We then followed Royal Terrace (more cobbles) and Regent Road to one of our traditional stopping points: the Stones of Scotland Monument. In the late evening sunshine, the view from here over Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat was particularly striking. We took advantage of the stop to share some nibbles. We then moved on to tackle the only noticeable climb of the evening: Calton Hill.
If you haven't been to the summit of Calton Hill recently, you may be agreeably surprised by the changes. The area around the Playfair observatory has been landscaped and remodelled, and although it is has been somewhat commercialised with the arrival of an up-market restaurant, it now provides better access to the south west side of the summit, with much more room to enjoy the views over the city.
And so to the final leg of our ride: down the hill to Waterloo Places, then left at the Bridges, right into Chambers Street, arriving back at the Meadows shortly before 9.30 pm. The weather had stayed kind to us all evening, and nobody had complained about the repetition of the route. Maybe next year we will do somewhere different. Or maybe not.
Leader, report, photos: Mike
Monday, 17 June 2019
This coming Friday (21st June) is the summer solstice: the longest day of the year. We will be celebrating the event with our traditional mid-summer evening bike ride. Like all our rides, this one is free and open to all. I hope you will be able to join us.
This will be a leisurely ride, taken at an easy pace and with a few interesting stops along the way. Our route will mainly follow bike paths, quiet roads and parks around the city, and will take in the Leith waterfront, the Royal Yacht, the Stones of Scotland monument and the summit of Calton Hill. That last bit will be the only noticeable hill of the evening, with the rest of the route being reasonably flat.
We will meet at 7 pm, at our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. The ride will last about 2½ hours. There will be no café or pub stop during the ride, but if anyone wants to go for a drink afterwards, that can easily be arranged.
Although the ride should end before dark (sunset on Friday is at 10 pm), it would be advisable to bring lights in case we get delayed and also to see you home.
Remember, there is no advance booking for any of our rides. If you fancy joining us, just turn up at the appointed time and place.
Saturday, 8 June 2019
Today's ride could be summed up as, a low turnout; better weather than the forecast suggested; a relatively quick and trouble-free ride except for a puncture and arriving at our lunch stop very early. For the last few days the forecast had been telling us to expect a day of continual heavy rain. Perhaps that had frightened off a number of riders. Either that, or the lure of the Edinburgh World Naked Bike Ride had been too great! As it happened, the weather was nothing like as bad as expected. There was some rain at lunchtime and immediately after, but it could have been much worse. Even so, it was far from what we would expect in June.
A total of just eleven riders mustered at the start. It may well have been a record low for a June ride; more the sort of numbers we would associate with a winter's ride in bad weather. Once again, there was no need to consider splitting into two groups. After the obligatory leader's briefing, we left the Meadows and set off in the direction of Dalkeith. Taking the familiar route of the Innocent Railway, we soon left the Meadows behind. The pace was a little faster than some 20 Milers rides, but it presented no problem for those present and we made very good time. A smaller group meant we were all able to get across at traffic lights, so having to wait and regroup wasn't necessary. We were even able to cross the busy road through Newcraighall without delay, something that is almost unheard of. We then sped along the cycle path to Musselburgh station where we stopped as cakes and sweets were passed round. Perhaps we didn't really need them, but it's a long-held tradition of our rides. We pressed on and joined the River Esk path (known as the Grove to the locals) to Whitecraig. There followed a short stretch on the busy A6094 towards Dalkeith. Leaving that far-from-pleasant road behind, we were soon heading along a quiet road into Dalkeith Country Park. Past the impressive "big house" - Dalkeith Palace, and we left the country park to emerge on Dalkeith High Street. A short ride through the town and we arrived at our lunch stop at 1155. It has been a long time since we arrived so early to lunch. Three riders headed off for a picnic lunch, some went into the pub and the remainder decided to risk al fresco dining despite the sky looking rather grey. Lunch was eaten outside; but as the rain got heavier, everyone retreated inside.
Map trace: Jim
Wednesday, 5 June 2019
We've got our June ride this Saturday (8th). Jim will be leading us to Dalkeith. It should be a straightforward run of about 20 - 24 miles, with a few hills but no killers. For lunch, there is a choice between a picnic in the King's Park (bring a packed lunch or pick up a sandwich in the nearby Morrisons) or a pub lunch in the Blacksmiths Forge (Wetherspoons).
The details are the same as always. We'll meet at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10:30 departure.
We have two more rides planned for this month. On Friday 21st, we will have our traditional summer solstice ride. This will be an evening ride, starting from Middle Meadow Walk at 19:00. And on Saturday 29th, Verity will be leading us to Haddington for our second Extra of the season.
I'll post a reminder and more details of each of these events her nearer the time.
Monday, 3 June 2019
The first leg of the route was a familiar one: NCN1 to Cramond Brig, the underpass and the new cycle track to the Carlowrie Road, and the railway path to Kirkliston. We stopped for a comfort break at the Kirkliston Leisure Centre, then continued west on the quiet back road past Niddry Castle. After four miles on the canal towpath, we reached Philpstoun, where we took another break (with some delicious home-made chocolate brownies on offer).
The next stage of the ride involved a notorious killer hill – one that we have often struggled up on our rides to Blackness Castle. This time, we had the pleasure of going down, which was most exhilarating. In no time at all, we were in Blackness village, from where we set off on the last leg of the morning. This took us on a new stretch of path along the shore of the Forth. This path replaces a rough footpath which was always difficult for cyclists. Now, apart from one unpaved section, it is a well-surfaced track offering delightful views across the firth. The path led us into Bo'ness, where we made our way to the terminus of the preserved Bo'ness and Kinneil railway.
The railway turned out to be an ideal lunch stop: lots of picnic tables, a spacious café, and plenty of interesting things to see. About half-way through the break, the whistle of an approaching train could be heard. Several members of the group rushed to the platform, where they caught a glimpse of a steam–hauled train arriving in the station. Most of us, it must be said, preferred to stay put and catch a glimpse of our lunch.
The day had stayed dry and reasonably warm, and there were no problems of any kind. Nobody had any difficulty in keeping up, and the ride was free of punctures and other mechanical difficulties. In short, a good start to the Extra season.
Leader, report and photos: Mike
Sorry, no map this time.
Monday, 27 May 2019
We've got our first Extra ride of the year this coming Saturday (1st June). These Extra rides are longer and faster than our usual runs, but we try to maintain the same friendly and unpressured atmosphere. If you are comfortable with our usual pace, you should enjoy these longer outings. But if you sometimes struggle to keep up, or haven't cycled for a while, you might prefer to give them a miss.
This week's ride
For our ride on Saturday, we will be heading to somewhere that we have never visited before as a group: the historic Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway. Apart from its historical interest, the station there promises to be a good place for our lunch stop. It has picnic tables for those who like to bring a packed lunch (or you can pick up a sandwich in the Tesco next door). There is also a large café that serves soup, sandwiches, baked potatoes and home-made cakes and scones.
The ride itself will be about 38 miles. We'll head out via Kirkliston, Niddry Castle and a short stretch on the canal, then drop down to Blackness and a new coastal path that will take us into Bo'ness. For the return, we'll keep to the coast, via the Hopetoun Estate and South Queensferry. Most of the route will be on well-surfaced tracks and roads, with just a few stretches that might be a bit rough. There will be a few hills, but no killers.
Note that most of the mileage will be in the morning, with a late lunch stop, so adjust your appetites accordingly.
Meeting time and place
For this ride, we'll meet at our alternative meeting point at the Craigleigh path junction (see here if you need directions). We'll set out at the earlier time of 10:15. As this is quite a long ride, we'll aim to leave punctually. It's difficult to know exactly when the ride will finish, but I think we should be back at the start point some time between 4 and 5 pm.
What if the weather is bad?
An occasional shower or a light drizzle won't put us off. But if the weather is particularly bad, we might opt for a shorter ride (but the meeting time and place will remain the same).
As with all our rides, this one is free and open to all. Just turn up if you would like to join us.
Friday, 17 May 2019
Here is an overview of the rides planned for June 2019. I'll post more information about each of these nearer the time.
Saturday 1st June. Our first Extra of the summer. These rides are longer and faster than our usual runs. We start a little earlier, finish a little later, and go at a slightly faster pace - but always with the same sociable atmosphere. For this first ride, we'll be heading west, starting at 10:15 from the Craigleith path junction.
Saturday 8th June. Our normal "second Saturday" run, starting as usual at 10:30 from Middle Meadow Walk. We'll be heading to Dalkeith.
Friday 21st June. An evening ride to celebrate the summer solstice. Meet at 19:00 at Middle Meadow Walk.
Saturday 29th June. Our second Extra of the season, heading east. We'll let you know the meeting time and place nearer the time.
In addition, the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling takes place in June. This consists of around 40 cycling-related events, including talks, workshops, cultural events, film shows and several rides. I've posted details of a few of these on www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk. You can pick up a copy of the full printed programme from local bike shops, leisure centres and public libraries.