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Friday, 25 December 2015

Christmas morning in the city

Nine and a half miles in a little over two hours is not exactly a reckless pace, even by 20-Milers standards. But our Christmas morning rides are meant to be sociable rather than speedy, with several sight-seeing and refreshment stops along the way. Today's event was no exception. Eleven riders turned up (including one Santa impersonator), on an overcast morning, with the Middle Meadow Walk thermometer-cum-bike-counter showing 6C.

Our first stop was the Castle esplanade, where we enjoyed fine views to the north and south (a dusting of snow was visible on the Pentland summits). We then had a rapid descent of Ramsay Lane (very steep) to Market Street and Waverley Bridge. Next came a double traverse of Princes Street – westward as far as Castle Street, then back the other way to Waterloo Place. There were a few buses and taxis around, as well as a couple of council cleansing vehicles, but almost no other traffic.

In Regent Road, we paused to look at the Stones of Scotland Monument (a circle of 32 stones, one from each of Scotland's local authorities, commemorating the rebirth of the Scottish Parliament). Then came the hard work of the day: the ascent of Calton Hill. At the summit, we lingered to take in the panoramic view. This was our main refreshment stop, with mulled wine, home-made mince pies and chocolate truffles all in evidence.

We left the hill by way of the path-cum-steps that goes down to Greenside Church. We then weaved through the back doubles to St Marks Park and the Water of Leith, then headed west via King George Park, Canonmills, Stockbridge and Dean Village. After the recent rains, the Water of Leith was unusually fast, and the path was muddier than usual.

At Roseburn, several members of the party went their separate ways. The remnants of the company headed back to town via Haymarket Terrace, West Maitland Street and Rutland Square. By the time we reached the Usher Hall, only three riders remained, so we declared the ride officially over. Judging by the feedback along the way, it was another successful event.

Leader, report, photos and map trace: Mike

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