Just like last month, it was decided that today's ride would go ahead without a pub or café lunch stop. Instead, it would take the form of a half-day ride aiming to finish by 1300. The leader plotted a route of 13 miles to fit the format. But within that relatively short distance, we were promised some unfamiliar locations and ways of getting to them. The highlight of the ride was visiting a walled garden that few of the riders even knew existed.
The day dawned dry and quite windy, but nothing like as bad as earlier in the week. That was the way it remained for the duration of the ride, except for a couple of very brief light showers. A turnout of 17 riders was quite good for a windy February day following a rather unsettled week. It was great to see a smattering of new faces for a ride so early in the year.
Following the customary route-details and safety briefing, we rolled away from Middle Meadow Walk and headed for the Leamington Bridge via the familiar route taking in Bruntsfield Links and Leamington Terrace. After a brief pause at the bridge, more familiar paths and roads took us onto the Roseburn Path at the zig-zags. At Craigleith we took the Blackhall Path and what seemed like the familiar route to Cramond Brig via Barnton. But a surprise left turn took us along East Barnton Avenue and through Davidsons Mains Park to emerge beside the busy-as-ever Queensferry Road. With everyone safely across, we headed through the quiet backstreets of Clermiston and cut across Clermiston Park. After a bit of climbing, we paused briefly outside St Andrew's Church before continuing. Soon we were on a cycle path alongside Clermiston Road. Crossing the road, we climbed a dirt track and we were at the delightful Corstorphine Hill Walled Garden. Most of us didn't even know this community garden existed. Leaning our bikes against the wall, we trooped in. There is something special about walled gardens, and this one certainly didn't disappoint - it was lovely. February may not have been the best time to visit, but it made many of us vow to return. In spring and summer it will be an absolute treat. Having explored the garden, we headed back down the dirt track to the road. From there, cycle paths weaved between the houses and quiet roads saw us arrive at the busy St John's Road. We crossed the road and left it behind as we rode along Corstorphine High Street and made our way through St Margaret's Park. More quiet roads and we were soon on the path that runs behind Silvan House on Corstorphine Road. The path took us to Balgreen Road, we crossed the Water of Leith and rode alongside it past Murrayfield Stadium and through Roseburn Park. From there we made our way to the zig-zags, before retracing our outbound route back to the Meadows where the leader declared the ride officially over.
For the old stagers of the group, it's very easy to think we've been everywhere. So it is great to be led somewhere completely new. All credit to Graham for doing that, especially in a shorter-than-usual ride, and to take us to somewhere so delightful.
Hopefully our March ride will return to the usual format to include a lunch stop and be around 20 miles in length. It would be nice if we could have some spring-like weather, but we'll have to wait and see.
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