Edinburgh is a perfect city for bike riding. If you’ve done some research before you arrived you might have discovered it’s a city built on seven hills, so you might find that statement hard to believe. And if you’re already here and you’ve spent any time walking up and down those hills, you’ll probably think I’m nuts. But trust me, Edinburgh has a very cool and very accessible system of relatively flat bike trails which make a day’s cycle an option for even the most aerobically challenged among us – me included.
One of my favourite Edinburgh rides is to the tiny seaside village of Cramond, via the Roseburn Path. Most of the path is simple to follow but there are a couple of confusing points. I like to think I have a good sense of direction, but even with old school maps and no end of phone apps, I still managed to miss a turn and end up in the middle of goodness knows where the first time I cycled there. So below are my handy photographic instructions to help you avoid the same fate.
There is of course a way to get to Cramond via boring old roads, but I’m going to show you a much prettier route. This way is again great for any fitness level as it’s either flat-ish or gloriously downhill all the way there. There is however one small strenuous part, so depending on your fitness level you might want to make sure one of your group has some muscles and let them do the hard bit for you. See what you think below.
At the end of this section, the cycle path just stops at this point in the above photo. But don’t worry, there’s more handy blue signs to keep you going in the right direction, which in this case is to the left onto Blackhall Path.
At the end of this little slipway, you’ll come to traffic lights. Cross over and keep cycling straight ahead, up a bit of a hill (don’t worry it’s not very long)and suddenly you’re in what I call Edinburgh’s Beverley Hills, but is really Barnton Avenue. You can tell the price of real estate has gone way up when the gates at the end of the driveway are suddenly elaborate constructions and every property has a name, can’t you? Well, there’s that, plus the houses are suddenly the size of small resorts.
Follow this road and you’ll go weeeeeee all the way down a big hill, through some barriers on either side of a golf course, along another section of hedge lined Beverley Hills properties and then come out at another intersection. Here you’re crossing over and going straight again into Braepark Road, just like the last set of lights.
Feel free to take your time at this point, stop and smell the Sycamores and commune with nature etc. The strenuous part I spoke about above is on its way, so you might benefit from a rest.
And here’s where you’ll have to work some muscles. Throw your bike on your shoulder and haul both of you up these steps. Don’t forgoet, what goes up must come down. There’s more on the other side, but of course, that part’s not quite as hard.
Once you’re in Cramond, you’ll no doubt notice these little structures below. And once you’re up close, you’ll notice they’re actually anything but little. This is Cramond Island, or rather the walkway to the island from the mainland. Cramond Island is definitely somewhere you’ll want to spend a couple of hours, but it can only be accessed during low tide, so have a read of my post here first so you’re all clued up and don’t get stranded overnight.
So… once you’re ready to head back home, you have two options; back the same way, which means a long, tough slug up that Beverley Hills road you enjoyed whizzing down so much, or the easy but decidedly less attractive route.
Yeah, you’re going to choose the easy way aren’t you? Well, don’t worry, you can always say you just want to see more of Edinburgh. Works for me. Here it is…
And just think, after all that outdoorsy fun, you can treat yourself to an Edinburgh sized pub-grub dinner and not feel any guilt at all. Isn’t exercise great?
Stuff to Know:
If you start your ride at the beginning of the Roseburn Path (Google map below), the closest cycle hire is Grease Monkey Cycles, only about 100 meters away in a nearby industrial park. They have half-day rentals from £19 or full day from £26. They also have a delivery and pick up service.
If you’re going to walk over to Cramond Island, don’t forget to ask the bike store for a lock so you can keep the bikes secure on the mainland while you’re off exploring.
Cramond is about 4-5 miles (6-7 kilometers) from the city. Riding straight there with no mishaps takes about 40 minutes. But you’ll probably want to stop off along the Almond River or take your time in certain sections, so it could be anywhere from an hour up.