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Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Half-day Christmas ride

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For the second year running, we had a short ride this year on Christmas morning. Last time, I thought we did well with a turnout of seven. Today, we tripled that number, to 21. And the weather was kind: a completely dry day after nearly a week of dreary rain.

Our route took us down the Mound and along Princes Street, which was delightfully free of traffic. Then came some hard work: an ascent of Calton Hill. We lingered by the City Observatory for ten minutes, taking in the splendid view over the Forth to the Fife Hills. Descending the hill was more difficult than going up, with most of us choosing to push our bikes down the rough, stepped path to Greenside Church rather than trying to pedal down.

From London Road, we headed north through empty streets to St. Marks Park, across the Water of Leith, and on to the Warriston Path. The paths here were busy with dog-walkers and joggers. We paused in Victoria Park for a refreshment break, where we feasted on a cornucopia of home-made mince pies, stollen, shortbread, brownies, and other treats - all unexpectedly and generously provided by members of the group (I can see this becoming an annual tradition).

Our route then took us to Fiveways, Goldenacre, Warriston Gardens, Inverleith Place and Inverleith Park. From Fettes Avenue, we climbed up to Craigleath, where we joined the Roseburn Path. The southern end of this path has now re-opened after a long closure for tram works, so we were able to cut through to Haymarket Yards and out to Haymarket Terrace.

By this time, most of the group had peeled away at various points. The remaining half dozen or so continued past St. Mary's Cathedral to Queensferry Street, where, at 12.30 and after 10 miles, we went our separate ways.

Leader: Mike
Report: Mike
Photos: Livia

Sunday, 9 December 2012

December's ride to Dalkeith Country Park

Dalkeith Country Park is generally closed in the winter, meaning that our rides in the past have been at warmer times of year. This month however the regular ride date (2nd Saturday of the month) co-incided with a Christmas Market being held in the Stables area, so Ken, our leader for the day, took the opportunity for a straightforward (using well known paths) route out with a very similar route back, to get back home before lighting up time (about 3.30pm at this time of year!)

We went out to Musselburgh along the Innocent Railway and then followed Route 1 out to Whitecraig, where we turned right at the roundabout and after a shortish section of road, turned into the Dalkeith Estate - finding that a new gate has been built across the access path. If it had been locked, we would have to had found an alternative route, but luckily a driver was exiting the park at the time we were arriving, and let us through.

The Stables bar kindly opened up their bistro area so that we could all get seated for lunch - mostly hot rolls or soup - I had some mulled wine too which was very warming and welcome. The Christmas market appeared to be a merry-go-round for children, a hook-a-bag stall, "Santa's Grotto" and some stalls in the far corner which I didn't investigate.

We left the estate by a slightly different (and much muddier!) route, coming onto the Old Craighall Road into Musselburgh (where there is a cyclable path on the busy section), and then back pretty much the way we had come, before the last few standing ended up at Peter's Yard for a coffee and cake.

Next ride - Christmas Morning (short route, finished by 1pm)

View 20Milers Dec12 to Dalkeith in a larger map

Monday, 12 November 2012

November ride to Mortonhall (10th November)

For our November ride, Chris Pearson led a group of 20 riders on a fascinating route through the east and south of the city.

In bright sunshine, we left the Meadows via George Square and the Pleasance, then headed through Holyrood Park to Duddingston Village. We then proceeded along Cavalry Park Drive to Duddingston House (built in the 1760s for the Earl of Abercorn, and now housing offices and a conference centre). We continued through the quiet streets of Bingham (passing St Mary Magdalene, which Chris describes as "possibly the ugliest church in Britain"), and then along a short stretch of the Innocent Path.

Just before Asda, we took a new section of path that goes to Fort Kinnaird, and then on to Whitehill Road. We continued through Shawfair, Hilltown, Millerhill Road and Danderhall. At the padlocked gate leading into the Drum Estate, Chris surprised us by apparently using his key to enter the grounds (it was actually a bit of sleight of hand involving what looks like the door to a private house but which actually leads to a public path).

After passing Drum House (a Palladian mansion built by William Adam around 1730), we continued through Gilmerton and along Lasswade Road to the entrance to Burdiehouse Valley Park, and then across Captain's Road and into Gracemount. After crossing Howden Hall Road, we reached Mortonhall.

For lunch, we divided ourselves between the Mortonhall Stable Bar and the café in the nearby garden centre. In the bar, the server asked (politely) for payment in advance, hinting at previous difficulties with cyclists leaving without paying - no further details forthcoming.

After lunch, we took a muddy but picturesque woodland path towards Braid Road, struggling a bit up a section with loose gravel. We crossed Comiston Road into Pentland View, and then on to Braidburn Valley Park.

At this point, the first drops of rain were falling, so we hastily continued on the final section of the route, via Canaan Lane, the Astley Ainslie grounds and Whitehouse Loan, with people peeling off at various points along the way. It was another excellent ride - and, as a bonus, was completely puncture-free.

Photo: Darren

Monday, 5 November 2012

November's ride outline

Route for Saturday 10th November's ride
Chris Pearson will be leading the group on a route that covers quiet roads, little-known paths and seldom-visited villages on the south-eastern edges of the city. There are also two historic houses along the way. Lunch will be at Mortonhall. We'll probably return via the Braidburn Valley path.
Chris warns that there may be some short muddy sections. And, he adds, "the steep climbs will be short and the long hills will be gentle".
At the lunch stop, you can choose either a snack in the Stable Bar, or the café in the garden centre, which offers a good range of sandwiches, salads, soups, baked potatoes and the like. The courtyard of the Stable Bar is a good choice for those who like to bring their own food.
Although we fully intend to be finished by dusk, there are always the possibility of delays, so we recommend that you bring bike lights on the ride over the wintery months. 

Monday, 15 October 2012

October ride to South Queensferry (13th October)

One of the things we aim to do on our monthly runs is to explore lesser-known cycling routes: to introduce riders to places they might not discover on their own. On that basis, today's run was an undoubted success. Thanks to some careful map-reading and reconnaissance by Ken Roxburgh, we found a delightful place to cycle that was completely new to almost everyone on the ride.

About 20 of us set out from the Meadows, heading up the familiar NCN 1 route to Cramond Brig. There was some light rain at first, but this soon eased off, leaving a slightly damp and overcast day.

After Cramond Brig, we turned west on the minor road past the Craigiehall army base. A couple of miles later, we hauled our bikes up the steep slope to the railway path, which took us quickly into Kirkliston. We then headed north for a short stretch on the shared-use pavement alongside the busy A8000.

So far, so unremarkable. But things started to get interesting when Ken brought us to a halt by a narrow driveway leading into private grounds. A sign by the gate told us that this was one of the entrances to the Dundas Castle estate.

Dundas what? No, I'd never heard of it either. Dundas Castle, it seems, is the family home of Sir Jack Stewart-Clark. The magnficent fortified house, which is also used as a conference and wedding venue, was built in 1818, on the site of an earlier 15th Century castle. It's located in the middle of a 1,500-acre estate, and, despite its size, is completely hidden from the road. The sign by the gate made it clear that this was very much private property.

Fortunately, Ken had contacted the estate office in advance, and had obtained special permission for us to cycle through the grounds. Out of respect for the family's privacy, we had agreed not to go past the house itself, but instead took a delightful back road through a deep, secluded valley. We paused by a charming loch at the base of a craggy cliff, surrounded by mature trees. The only sign of human habitation was a former boat-house, now used as an up-market self-catering venue.

Another couple of miles of pedalling through these peaceful woods took us to the estate's north gate, from where we had a quick downhill run back to civilization, otherwise known as South Queensferry.

After lunch, we took a much better-known route: through the Dalmeny Estate on NCN 76, and so back to Cramond Brig. The last leg was through Barnton and along the Blackhall Path to the Sustrans marker by Craigleath, where we went our separate ways. The total distance to this point was 24 miles.

Thanks to Ken for devising and leading this excellent ride. Thanks also to Jim for back-marking and route-tracing, and, of course, to the staff at Dundas Castle for letting us discover their delightful and secluded corner of the world.

Leader: Ken
Report: Mike

Sunday, 23 September 2012

20-Milers Extra ride to Aberdour (22nd September)

For our last Extra ride of the summer, we were lucky to have some of the best cycling weather of recent weeks: chilly at first but getting gradually warmer, with clear bright skies and virtually no wind. It was an ideal day for our trip into Fife.

Under the capable leadership of Julia Richardson, our 22-strong group headed up the familiar NCN1 route by way of Cramond Brig and Dalmeny. But when we reached the Forth Road Bridge, Julia took us on a less familiar turn-off, through a car park and the edges of a building site, to emerge at the back of the old toll offices. This hidden-from-view spot was where the Queen officially opened the bridge in 1964, and it provides one of the most spectacular views you'll find of both road and rail bridges (usefully, there are also public toilets there).

We lingered at this delightful spot for quarter of an hour, then continued across the bridge at a leisurely pace. It was unusual to cross the Forth on such a clear, wind-free day, and we couldn't resist the temptation to constantly stop, to take photos or to simply gaze across the water.

Once clear of the bridge, we got back to the serious cycling. We quickly headed up the main road into Inverkeithing, which was busy with Saturday shoppers and traffic. From the High Street, we took the cut-through by the Mercat Cross into Bank Street, then zoomed down the hill onto the bike path that skirts Inverkeithing Bay (see photo, top).

For the next five miles, we followed the coast, by St. David's Harbour, Downing Point and Donibristle Bay (famous for its radioactive waste), and on past the ruins of the 12th Century St. Bridget's Kirk. For most of this stretch, the route alternates between residential roads with modern housing and pleasant paths close to the water's edge. Navigation can be a little tricky in places, but Julia's local knowledge paid off, and she led us unerringly along the way.

After the kirk, we turned slightly inland, to follow a minor road across fields and a golf course, emerging into the centre of Aberdour. From here, it was only another mile or so to our lunch spot at Silver Sands beach.

According to an information board, this area is officially "Scotland's Riviera". Even on a sunny day like this was, I felt that was a bit of an exaggeration. Still, the beach is surely one of the best in Fife, with fabulous views across the Forth and round the coast (provided you close your eyes to the alumina plant in Burntisland). Most of our group chose to picnic on the beach, while others made for the recently-refurbished café.

For our return trip, we headed back the way we came. The only drawback was that the hill in Inverkeithing that we had earlier zoomed down now had to be climbed up. We didn't linger on the Forth Road Bridge this time, and we were soon heading back along NCN 1 to our starting point on the Roseburn Path. The total distance was 36 miles.

Thanks to Julia for planning and leading an excellent ride, to Alan and Jenny for back-marking, and to the weather gods for giving us the ideal day for it.

Leader: Julia
Report and photo: Mike
More photos from this ride

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Long September ride

A bit more about this coming Saturday's Extra ride:

At 36 miles, this run will be quite a bit longer than our usual trips. We'll cover the extra distance by starting a little earlier, finishing a little later, and pedalling a little faster - but not so fast as to kill conversation or leave people behind. Our aim is always to have a sociable ride, without undue pressure, and with time to stop occasionally to admire the scenery or take photos.
If you find you can easily manage our normal 20-mile outings and you now want to try something a bit more challenging, I suggest you give this week's ride a try. But if you sometimes struggle to keep up on our normal runs, or you find yourself always at the back, you'll probably prefer to give this one a miss.
The route
Julia Richardson will be our leader this time. She will be conducting us over the Forth Road Bridge, and then eastwards through the intricacies of the Fife coastal path. This is a delightful route, with excellent views for most of the way.
Much of the route will be on well-surfaced paths and roads. But there will be several miles on a somewhat rougher track. This is unlikely to cause any difficulties, and I doubt that we'll have to dismount anywhere. We will, however, encounter several hills. These will be fairly gentle, except for one particularly steep climb on the way back.
Our lunch stop will be at the Silver Sands, just beyond Aberdour. This is a beautiful beach with superb views over the Forth. There's a nice cafe there where you can get a sandwich or a bowl of soup. For those of us who prefer to bring our own food, the beach is a good place for a picnic.
If you decide to join the ride but then find it's too much of a struggle, you have the option of taking a train part or all of the way home. There are two trains per hour from Aberdour, but keep in mind that bike space is limited. If more than a couple of people take this option, you might have to wait for a later train.
Time and place
For this ride, we'll forsake our usual meeting point on the Meadows. Instead, we'll gather on the Roseburn Path, by the Sustrans marker at the junction of the Blackhall and Telford paths. If you're not sure where that is, look up South Groathill Avenue on a street map. The access to the bike path is by the toucan crossing near the Sainsbury's petrol station there.
Remember, the ride will start earlier than usual. We'll gather at 09.45, for a 10.00 start. I can't say for sure what time the ride will finish, but we're unlikely to get back to the start point before about 4.30 pm.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

September's ride to Craigie Farm

A smaller group than recently turned up today - perhaps people are saving themselves for the Glasgow-Edinburgh Pedal for Scotland tomorrow. We had about 20 people, and this month Logan was the leader and took us out West, past the new tram depot (large hole in the ground), the airport (planes!), through a nice path down to the River Almond and an old bridge across the river, and then up the only real hill of the day to Craigie Farm where there is a very nice farm shop and cafe, and lovely views across the Forth and up to the Pentlands.

View 20milers to Craigie Farm Sep12 in a larger map

After lunch we made our way back to Cramond Brig and from there we turned left and went down to the promenade in Cramond, all the way along back to nearly Granton Square, and then up the old railway line back to the centre, including making sure that people knew where the meeting point for the next ride is (30+miles, to Aberdour, on 22nd September).

Monday, 3 September 2012

September's forthcoming rides

Next ride (Saturday 8th September)
Logan will be leading our ride this coming Saturday. This will be our normal "second Saturday" outing, but it will be a little longer than usual - about 24 miles. It's not a particularly difficult route, but there will be one steep climb, just before lunch.
We'll be taking an attractive route along bike paths and quiet roads to the west of the city. As well as some pleasant country lanes, we're promised fine views of the River Almond, Cammo Park, Edinburgh Airport and the Gogar tram depot.
Our lunch stop will be at Craigie Farm. There's an excellent cafe there, where we can get soup, baked potatoes, salads, and the like. For those who prefer to bring their own food, there are picnic tables and a lawn behind the cafe.
Note that the morning section of the ride will be longer than the afternoon, which means the lunch stop will be fairly late. So adjust your appetite accordingly. After lunch we'll be heading to Cramond and the Silverknowes Esplanade. Those who want a slightly shorter day will have the option of going straight home from Cramond Brig (but you'll have to find your own way).
The meeting time and place are the same as ever: 10.30, at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. As with all our rides, there are no formalities of any kind, and no need tell anyone in advance that you're coming.
20-Milers Extra (Saturday 22nd September)
Two weeks after the above ride, we will be having another of our Extra rides - probably the last one this year. These rides are longer and faster than our normal runs, but are still sociable and un-pressured.
For this month's Extra ride, we'll be heading over the Forth Road Bridge and along the Fife coast to Aberdour. I'll send you more details nearer the time. For now, you might like to note the date, the earlier start time (10.00), and the fact that we will be meeting, not at the Meadows, but at the three-way junction of the Roseburn, Blackhall and Telford paths, near Sainsbury's in Craigleith. (At the green Y in the paths here: http://goo.gl/maps/iUGQ9)

Monday, 20 August 2012

Extra ride to Livingston (19th August)

For our third Extra ride of the summer, Jenny Meek led a 21-strong group on a sortie into West Lothian. It turned out to be one of those rides where all the ingredients are just right: a delightful route, with quiet roads, well-surfaced bike paths, and mostly gentle gradients; an interesting lunch stop; congenial company; and, above all, near-perfect cycling weather (most of the time).

From our meeting point at the Water of Leith Visitor Centre, we took the canal to Hermiston House Road, then weaved through a series of pleasant country lanes by way of Gogarbank and Bonnington Mains, before re-joining the canal for a crossing of the lofty Almond Aqueduct. We entered Almondell Country Park at the north entrance, and enjoyed a fast freewheel to the Visitor Centre, where we stopped for a toilet break and general regrouping (see photo).

The next stage was on NCN 75 as it follows the fast-flowing Almond through a deep wooded gorge. This is a tricky path, with several narrow and steep sections. Inevitably we had to dismount a couple of times to haul our bikes over some difficult bits.

We emerged from the park in south Livingston. Now, this is a part of the country where I usually get myself lost (the trouble with the bike paths in Livingston is that there are so many of them). But Jenny's diligent recces had paid off, and she led us unerringly past the civic centre and St. Margaret's Academy to reach our lunch stop in Livingston Village

This was something of a revelation to most of the group. Livingston Village is the original Livingston, before the arrival of the new town in the 1960s. It dates back to the early 12th Century, and was a typical West Lothian farming community. Today, the village is still intact, despite being entirely surrounded by the new town. Its focal point is the 18th Century Livingston Inn, where we enjoyed a leisurely al fresco lunch.

After lunch, we took the well-surfaced bike path that runs alongside the Edinburgh to Bathgate railway line. We then turned right at Uphall Station onto a somewhat rougher path, which eventually led us onto the dramatic Camps Viaduct. From here, we were able to look down onto the path along the Almond that we had traversed a few hours earlier.

A mile or so later, we re-joined NCN 75 for a mostly downhill stretch via Kirknewton, Long Dalmahoy and the Herriot-Watt campus. Up to now, the day had been mostly warm and sunny, but as we reached the canal for the final leg, it turned cloudy with some spots of rain. So we quickly got to the junction with the Water of Leith path, where we went our separate ways. At just over 35 miles, it was another highly successful ride.

Leader: Jenny
Report and photo: Mike

Saturday, 11 August 2012

August's ride to Mortonhall

One of our largest ever groups - 34 people - showed up this month, with Mike leading and Ken as the crucial back-stop. We followed a similar route to last month as far as Colinton Road, then continued south and east alongside the bypass to Mortonhall Garden Centre, where many people had lunch in the cafe. Others had brought packed lunches and sat in the courtyard of the Stables Bar in the sun. The weather was lovely, although maybe a bit too warm given the height of climb today's ride involved (mostly gentle gradients though).

After lunch we turned north back towards town, climbing a little way behind the Stables Bar and then following a track beside the camp site due east. A lovely bit of downhill wheeee followed, then we turned onto the Hermitage of Braid path and started going uphill again. Recent heavy rain has gouged a horrendous gash in the path along there - a couple of feet deep; cycle with care along the edges. Most of the path was fine though, and not muddy at all really. At the top of the path we doubled back on ourselves to go along Hermitage Drive with some beautiful views of the city, then down and through Grange to get back to the start.

Total distance today was only about 16 miles, but with the large group, the warm weather and the hills, it felt like a good exercise.

View 20milers to Mortonhall Aug12 in a larger map

Next month's 20miler ride is on Saturday 8th September, starting at 10.30am in the normal place, however next Sunday (19th August) there is a longer ride (about 30 miles) starting at 10am at the Water of Leith visitor centre on Lanark Road.

Monday, 6 August 2012

August rides

Mike will be leading this Saturday's ride (11th August, 10.30am) on bike paths, forest trails, suburban streets and parkland on the southern edges of the city - some pleasant countryside with fine views. The total distance will only be abut 17 miles, but that doesn't mean you'll be left off lightly. There will be a number of steep-ish hills and a few rough tracks, and we'll also have several short stretches on main roa
ds. Fortunately, we'll get most of the climbing over with early, and have some nice long freewheels on the way home.

The lunch stop will be at the Mortonhall Garden Centre, where there's a spacious cafeteria. Those who prefer a pub lunch can opt for the nearby Stables Bar, which is also a good choice for those of us who like to bring our own food (plenty of seating in the courtyard).
20-Milers Extra (19th August)
Our second August ride will be somewhat longer and faster than our usual outings. These Extra rides are aimed at those who have no difficulties keeping up with our normal 20-mile runs, and now want something just a little more demanding. We start half an hour earlier than usual, finish a little later, and take slightly shorter breaks. But we still pedal at a sociable speed, and still wait for stragglers.
Jenny Meek will be leading this month's Extra. She's worked out an excellent 33-mile route through the West Lothian countryside, with an especially nice lunch stop. I'll send you more information nearer the time, but for now, you might like to note the date (which is a Sunday, not our usual Saturday), the non-standard starting point (the Water of Leith Visitor Centre in Slateford Road), and the fact that the ride starts at 10.00
Remember, all our rides are completely free. You're welcome to bring your friends, and you don't need to let us know whether or not you plan to come along - just turn up on the day.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

July's ride to Balerno

It's important to challenge assumptions. 20milers rides are not intended to be long, fast or competitive in any way. The aim is to explore the city, discover routes that our riders might not know about and find ways that don't involve busy roads or tiring hills (mostly). However Edinburgh is a small city, and there is a limit to how far outside the city one can go and still get back within 20 miles. There are a number of "nice" cycle routes - the Innocent Railway to get to Musselburgh, Route 1 to get to South Queensferry, the Union Canal to go West, and the Water of Leith to get out to the South West.

Photo by Logan Strang

So today's ride was interesting because we managed to get all the way to Balerno and back without setting wheel on the Water of Leith, at all. 32 people turned up for today's ride (including our first ever fixie, and quite a few new people too) The morning's route took us through Morningside (where a small piece of glass caused our first puncture in several rides), Craiglockhart (a useful illustration of how not thinking like a car user ("main road - good, side road - bad") transformed what could have been a slog up Colinton Road with busy traffic into a pleasant ascent on a quiet back road - Craiglockhart Road North. I had a lovely chat with a fellow cyclist all the way up - something that wouldn't have been safe or comfortable on a main road. We then had to spend a few minutes on a busy road before we got to Colinton village and passed under the bypass and onto quiet country lanes and paths. Some of the tracks had suffered considerable damage in the recent heavy rain (right down to bare rock in places) but we pushed our bikes over the worst bits, and ended up in Balerno just in time to catch the farmer's market before it closed at 1pm. The Grey Horse pub kindly accommodated the majority of riders (some found other fare or had brought their own packed lunches) with simple sandwiches and soup - just right.

After lunch (and some time fixing another puncture) we followed NCR 75 down to Long Dalmahoy Road, then turned right and came down to the canal through Heriot Watt campus at Riccarton. From there we used the canal all the way back into town, to Harrison Park. By this point many people had peeled off to make their own way home, but a hard core of about 10 followed Andrew on a novel route that got us back to the starting point via Church Hill.

View 20milers July12 Balerno in a larger map

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

July's ride

July's ride this coming Saturday (14th) - Balerno for lunch so some uphill in the morning and some downhill in the afternoon. Bring a packed lunch, or buy soup and sandwiches in the local pub or food from the local farmer's market if we're there by 1pm.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

20-Milers Evening Ride (27th June)

This Wednesday, we tried something new for our group: an evening ride. Devised and led by Andy Hunter, eight of us enjoyed a pleasant run to Portobello, returning by way of Holyrood Park. We set out at 7 pm, and as the summer solstice had only just passed, we were able to finish the ride comfortably before dark.

We started by heading down the Royal Mile to the Parliament, then along Abbeyhill and up Regent Terrace. From Regent Road, we climbed to the top of Calton Hill. On a good day, this has some of the finest views in the city, but this evening, it was grey and overcast, and even the Castle was hidden by cloud (as you can see in the photo).

We then enjoyed a dramatic descent to London Road, followed by a stretch through quiet back streets before emerging in the northern reaches of Easter Road. Here we joined the excellent bike path that goes through Quarryhole Park and on to Seafield. The section of this path east of Lochend has been greatly improved recently, and provides some superb traffic-free cycling. The only difficulty is the very narrow and often muddy descent from the end of the path down to Seafield Street.

On arriving at Portobello Promenade, Andy (who is a professional story teller) told us how the district got is name. (Short version: Robert Jenkins gets his ear cut off; Britain declares war on Spain; Britain captures Spanish town of Porto Bello on the Panama coast; much celebration back home; several places around the world are named or re-named in honour of the event; Edinburgh's seaside suburb is one of them.)

We left the prom by way of Bridge Street (passing Sir Harry Lauder's birth place), then via Fishwives Causeway, Mountcastle Drive and Abercorn Avenue, before entering the east end of Holyrood Park by Duke's Walk.

At this point, I was just reflecting on what a pleasant, gentle ride it had been, and how I would be home in a few minutes. But then we made a sharp left turn onto Queen's Drive. As we started the long, slow slog up to Dunsapie Loch and the back of Arthur's Seat, I could see the riders in front of me disappear into the clouds. After a lot of slow pedalling, we all made it to the top. Of course, we then had a lovely freewheel down the other side to the park gate.

We were back at the Meadows a little after 9 pm. The total distance was just over 12 miles. It was an excellent route, and, despite the cloud, the weather had stayed dry and reasonably warm. All in all, a very pleasant way of spending an evening.

Leader: Andy
Report by: Mike
Photo by: Andy

Saturday, 9 June 2012

July's ride

Next month's ride will be on Saturday 14th July - Bastille Day. More details on route to be posted nearer the time. But I think it's likely that we won't be going to France.

June's ride to Ratho EICA

Today it was my turn to lead the group, and 30 people turned up - the last few days have had pretty miserable weather but apart from a few spots of rain at lunch and not long after, we had a lovely day for a ride. It wasn't too windy and the sun shone frequently.

The route took us out along the signed route from Roseburn to Edinburgh Park, and from there we crossed under the bypass slightly north of our "normal" place; today's alternative involved using a right of way across a field, although it wasn't very well used and it did just feel as though we were cycling across a field of corn. That was an interesting experience for many. After that we took a more recognisable route along some farm tracks near Roddinglaw, and then turned off the road to Ratho to hoist our bikes over a farm gate and cycle along beside the railway. Jelly Babies and Liquorice Allsorts were served along with a view of the Pentlands as we crossed the railway line. After that we had a mile or so along a footpath (muddy in bits but actually had a good hardcore surface most of the way - we just had to ride "thin" and avoid the nettles...) to Ratho Station. After a short section on roads we used another track to take us up beside the M9 to Claylands, which then fed us onto a short stretch of busy road (with a useful pavement one could cycle on) - under the M8, under the canal and then turn left into the EICA access road.

Lunch for some was a picnic in the sun/rain, for others was a sandwich from the cafe looking out over the climbing arena.

After lunch we used the canal for a couple of miles then took to the road again past Suntrap Gardens and under the bypass on the Gogar Station road route. Then up and over past the Novotel at Edinburgh Park and all the way into town along Bankhead Drive, Broomhouse Drive and Stenhouse Drive. There is a good cycle path along here, although it's a bit of a bore with a big group as we get separated at the crossings. From there, we went across Saughton Park, along a (newish, I think) shared use path behind Hutchison Road and then up to Slateford Road, Shandon Place, Harrison Park and back along the canal. We were shedding people all the way home as people got to places they recognised, but about 6 people made it all the way back to the top of Middle Meadow Walk at about 3.30pm. Total distance was about 23 miles, by my reckoning. 

We had several new faces on today's ride which is always good to see.

Photos from Andy here:

View 20milers to Ratho Jun-12 in a larger map

Sunday, 3 June 2012

20-Milers Extra Ride to East Lothian (2nd June)

For our second Extra ride of the summer, Logan led fourteen of us on a delightful tour of East Lothian villages, using a varied mixture official bike paths, forest tracks, stony paths, estate roads, quiet lanes and main roads.

We started by heading out on NCN 1 as far as Musselburgh Station, and then turned off towards the harbour and race course - and straight into a cold easterly wind. At Prestonpans, we paused for a "comfort break". (Did you know that the public toilets in Prestonpans have been voted Loo of the Year every year since 2001? They've got certificates on the wall to prove it.)

After passing the site of the Battle of Prestonpans (1745), we took a railway path to the edge of Tranent, then continued east through the town centre and along the main road to Macmerry. Then came a delightful off-road stretch, emerging at the entrance to Winton House (dating back to 1150, and now a wedding and conference venue).

We then headed west along a pleasant lane, which our leader insisted was the quietest road in the Lothians ("If we see a car, I'll eat my helmet"; mind you, by that time, some of us were so hungry we would have joined him).

A mile or so later found us in Ormiston, where we stopped for lunch at the Coalgate Bar (see photo). This is surely one of the most welcoming pubs our group has ever visited. After showing us where we could safely leave our bikes, the friendly staff opened the lounge for us, where platters of complementary sandwiches and biscuits were waiting, along with huge pots of tea and coffee. With the sun almost (but not quite) making an appearance, most of us chose to eat in the sheltered garden.

After lunch, we faced three miles of hilly roads into Cousland. We stopped for a quick look at the 18th Century smiddy (now back in use after extensive restoration; the adjoining cottage has an exhibition, but this is only open a few days a year). Then came the last leg of the ride, via the Carberry Estate, Whitecraig, Newcraighall and the Innocent Railway. At the top of the tunnel, we went our separate ways, after a very enjoyable 32-mile run.

Leader: Logan
Report by: Mike

Sunday, 13 May 2012

June's rides

Next 20miler ride is Saturday 9th June, 10.30am in the usual place.
I'll be leading the ride, and heading out to Ratho Climbing Centre (which has a cafe and picnic area). Exact route still to be plotted but there will probably be some short stretches on rough-ish tracks, and some short stretches on busy-ish roads - but both only short!

There will also be a 20-miler evening ride, on Wednesday 27th June. Starts 7pm, on Middle Meadow Walk as usual. See http://www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk/ for more information nearer the time.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

May ride to Dalkeith Country Park

Despite the copious amounts of rain over the last couple of days, today we were lucky with a day of sunshine although there was a bit of wind.
Twenty-one people turned out for this ride, led by Ken, to Dalkeith Country Park. We started by heading East, via Holyrood Park, Fishwives' Causeway, Portobello and a pause at the Bandstand in Joppa, then on through Musselburgh (I noticed for the first time that there is a useful underpass under the main road beside the river in the centre of Musselburgh - must use that next time rather than trying to cross the road!) and up the Esk to Whitecraigs, where we entered the Dalkeith Country Park by a back gate.

We had a very sunny lunch in the courtyard - many people had brought packed lunches (especial thanks to Iain for sharing his home made soup!) and the rest bought sandwiches etc. at the cafe. They even got free top-ups of tea and coffee, which is a rare and wonderful thing. We admired the sow and her pile of multicoloured piglets, and the chickens scratched and bathed in the dust.

After lunch we left the park by a different route - a rougher surface (with lots of puddles after the week's rain) but still easily rideable, and out by the back gate near the A1. From there we had a straightforward ride back along Route 1 (Innocent Railway etc.) and were at Middle Meadow Walk around 3pm.
Photos on Facebook which might work but I'm not sure about permissions! 

View 20milers to Dalkeith CP May12 in a larger map

Saturday, 5 May 2012

30miler ride to Blackness Castle

Map from last Saturday's longer ride out to Blackness Castle via the Hopetoun Estate. Report to follow...

View 2012-05-05 Blackness 30-miler in a larger map

Monday, 16 April 2012

April's ride to Lauriston Castle & Cammo

This month 23 people turned out, on a bright (although chilly) day - although there was some brief snow and rain later but I didn't feel the need for waterproofs - luckily, as I had been optimistic and left them at home!

We started off by a complicated route through the West End, trying to avoid the tram works (it looks as though Edinburgh has decided to ditch trams in favour of a new canal, on Shandwick Place) and then onto the A8 briefly (which was quiet, but had a short stretch that had glass strewn liberally over the full width of the carriageway, so most people carried their bikes over this bit) before getting onto the Roseburn Path in Roseburn and heading north west. We detoured into Lauriston Castle estate and had a pleasant trip through the rose garden (no roses at the moment), onto the estate boundary walk and then a few minutes in the Japanese garden before heading back out.

From there we went to Davidson's Mains, and then through the woods parallel to Queensferry Road - there is a large (estate, not Council) sign saying "No Cycling" but Mike our rights-of-way expert assures us that it has no legal weight as long as we are not damaging or intruding - which we weren't. The woods are an excellent alternative to the busy A90. At Barnton we became pedestrians for a few minutes to get across the junction from North to South, and then into the Cammo estate for a brief pause to admire the remains of the old house. 

Heading back out the way we had come, and crossing Barnton junction again from West to East, we then turned off the Maybury road into the Bughtlin estate where again, there is a great alternative to the main road, on a quiet footpath that climbs gently up to Craigmount High School. We descended to the A8, crossed as pedestrians again, and then past the David Lloyd gym and into Corstorphine (I've been asked to point out that we were pedestrians yet again as we passed Tesco - The good thing about a bicycle is that you can dismount and take a different route to busy traffic, if you're not confident about a junction or the road conditions. Especially with a large group, there are times when 20+ cyclists would struggle to be safe in that sort of traffic, so prudence is advised). Most (apart for some picnicers) had lunch at the Corstorphine Inn, where we had reserved a table. The food came quickly and efficiently (we all ordered at the bar - easier than getting everything on a tab and working out who owes what) and it was civilised despite the football match playing on the TV screens!

View 14/04/2012 10:29 AM 20-milers Cammo in a larger map

After lunch we headed West again, this time going through the Gyle shopping centre, Edinburgh Park, under the railway line and over the tram line, into Hermiston Gait shopping centre and finally we headed back into town along the canal.

Total distance ended up about 22 miles.

Next month: Ken is leading the normal 20 mile-ish ride to Dalkeith (I think) on Saturday 12th, and Logan is leading an extra ride to Blackness Castle on Saturday 5th (start time 10am, meeting on the Roseburn path near Blackhall).

Monday, 26 March 2012

Upcoming rides including 30-miler

April's ride is on Saturday 14th, to Lauriston Castle & the Cammo Estate.

In May, we have an extra ride on Saturday 5th May - Logan will be leading a 30-ish mile ride to South Queensferry, Hopetoun House and Blackness. Meet: 10.00, at the Sustrans marker on the Roseburn path, by the three-way junction with the Blackhall and Telford paths (this is near the Sainsbury's petrol station in S. Groathill Ave.) - note non-standard start time and meeting place (see map).

View May 30milers in a larger map

The normal May ride on Saturday 12th will be led by Ken - details nearer the time.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

March's ride to Mortonhall

Chris led 32 of us out on an interesting route today. We had plenty of new people, which is always good to see, and today's route was a little shorter than 20 miles but had a good amount of climb to balance that out. I certainly felt I'd earned my lunch when it came!

We worked our way through Marchmont/Sciennes and up to the Kings' Buildings, then up the Hermitage of Braid - lots of people walking dogs but because we were cycling uphill I don't think we freaked them out much (going slower). Then we carried on along the Braid Burn, until we came out at what used to be the Naafi but is now a hole in the ground. From there, we cycled parallel to the city bypass through housing estates - occasionally taking a wrong turn but it all worked out in the end and we did a short loop around Morton House (a very beautiful Georgian mansion with lovely views out East) and then up onto the hill behind Mortonhall before (gingerly) descending to the Stables Bar for lunch. Some people ate picnics outside but most ate in the bar, where there was a log fire burning, or in a side room where they had laid out a long table for us.

After lunch we climbed back up a short hill and had some fantastic views of Edinburgh before a swift descent down Liberton Brae and back to the centre by a similar route to the morning.

View 20Milers Mar12 Mortonhall in a larger map
Next month's ride is on Saturday 14th April and (I think) Jim will be leading the ride.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

February's ride to Musselburgh

Despite all the snow in England over recent days, Edinburgh has been remarkably snow-free this winter, and February's ride dawned brighter and warmer than recent days. We had a good turn-out yesterday (21 or so) and Mike led the ride East to Musselburgh. We started by descending into Holyrood Park, then climbing the hill up to Willowbrae (holding up a couple of coaches slightly, but they didn't seem too stressed by this) and then down through Mountcastle to Figgate Park; often this is a park that people have never realised was there before, so it's nice to show people something new! From there we went towards Portobello via the golf course, across the bridge over the Harry Lauder Road and then we turned east through the back streets up the hill from the High Street - a nice quiet route with some good views.

We spotted a lot of roadies (going in the opposite direction, thankfully) - the Edinburgh Road Club groups out for their weekly ride; very much faster than us! They seemed friendly though. We arrived in Musselburgh via the Promenade. When we crossed the Esk we were interested to notice that the Electric Bridge (built in the 60s by the power company to allow transportation of turbines to Cockenzie without going through the centre of the town) was open (as it is on Race Days). Apparently the power company offered it to the town council for a nominal fee, which was turned down, so the gates are normally closed to traffic.

As the route so far had been quite short (and direct - look at the map!) Mike took us on a short loop around Musselburgh race course on a slightly muddy track. I hadn't realised before that the local golf course lies within the race course - an efficient use of space I think. We arrived in the town centre for lunch around 12.20 and split into groups to avoid overburdening the cafes. After lunch we headed back into town via Route 1 (with a short but interesting detour at the beginning after a lapse in concentration!) and had our only puncture of the day in the Bingham area) Frustratingly, the bike shop had sold the rider the wrong size of inner tube (26" tube for a 28" tyre - goes to show that even the "experts" need to pay attention a bit more some times!) - anyway the holey tube was patched and we got back on our way and made it to the city centre around 3.15pm.

View 20Milers Feb12 Musselburgh in a larger map

Saturday, 14 January 2012


I've set up a Facebook page for 20milers - not sure yet if it'll be useful, but please visit and "Like" the page if you're interested.

January's Ride - New Year's Resolutions!

30 people turned up for our first ride of 2012 including a good number of new people - I can only assume that a lot of Resolutions were made a couple of weeks ago!

Photos here

Alan led today's ride (that was originally going to be the route for December, were it not for the snow). We left the Meadows via Leamington Park, and discovered that the lift bridge was stuck in the Up position (or maybe the lift man was on a day off and didn't want boats stuck in the marina), so some of us carried our bikes up and over, and others went round the long way. A short stretch on road, and we used the normal Russell Road route - made more interesting this time because of the tram works, which have closed it to cars. Cycles and pedestrians share a narrow path through the works, and then we had to go around to Roseburn Terrace to get back onto the Roseburn Path. From there we were on the old railway line for about 5 miles, to Trinity. There were quite a few trees down, especially near the Queensferry Road Holiday Inn where a row of about 5 very large trees had all come down on a steep slope in the New Year storms.

From Trinity, we went down to the shoreline through the tunnel, and then West along the waterfront all the way to Cramond (see photo). The group split into "roadies" and "bike carriers" - the latter group went along the path along the Almond, which entails carrying bikes up about 80 steps (and down again), the other group went along the road (and beat us). We had lunch at the Cramond Brig, which coped extremely well with about 25 hungry cyclists all arriving at once (some people had picnics) and then headed back to the start along Route 1.

View 20milers to Cramond Jan12 in a larger map

Leader: Alan

Monday, 9 January 2012

Forthcoming rides

The next ride will be Saturday 14th January. Alan will lead us on the route planned for December (cancelled because of snow) around north Edinburgh, with lunch in Cramond. Please bring bike lights in case of delays, or for getting home after the ride.
February's ride will be on Saturday 11th Feb. More details nearer the time.
If you would like to be added to the mailing list for a monthly email about the 20milers rides, please send us an email to the address on the left.