There’s more to Edinburgh than Castles, bagpipes, whisky and haggis! Next time your visiting Edinburgh why not join me for a running tour to take in some of our local trails. Here are 3 of my favourite local trail runs that can fit nicely into a weekend break in Edinburgh without too much travel, 2 of which were featured in the Oct/Nov 2016 issue of Trail Running Magazine.
In the kilt of Arthur’s Seat (7 miles,300m ascent)
Although Arthur’s Seat is phenomenal to run up and experience the views, there is more to Holyrood Park than just the summit, and to get a tough workout in whilst in the city I’ve designed a surprisingly tough 7 mile loop. My route takes you from Royal Terrace through the park to enjoy the sight of the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Abbey from the rear before the long incline through Hunters Bog under the base of Arthur’s Seat before twisting back around for a few wee climbs with stunning views of the city and dropping down to Margaret’s Loch via the 16th century old chapel perched on the hill.
A rollercoaster of wee hills takes you around the back of Arthur’s Seat where you begin the rather steep ascent from Dunsapie Loch, you may find yourself slowing to a hike up this seriously steep hill to the Nether Hill before the final ascent up Arthur’s Seat.
It’s an enjoyable descent back down the steps but watch your footing here as this needs your full concentration to keep you upright. From here you can enjoy an easy descent down the grassy slope back towards Dynamic Earth and the Palace or if you want another blast for those glutes take the high road back via the steep incline back up Radical Road that runs underneath the Salisbury Crags and descends back down directly at the Palace car park.
Pentland Hills (7 miles, 508m ascent)
Only 6miles out of the city centre you will find the Pentland Hills, which cover an area of 90sq km so there are plenty of hills to explore if you have the time and the inclination.
This route is a wee taster of these hills and can be done alongside a full day of city sightseeing so you get the best of both worlds.
From Edinburgh you take the A702 Biggar road out towards Biggar, or take the number 101 bus from Edinburgh and park or alight the bus at Flotterstone Inn, your starting point.
Stretch those legs and lungs on a very steep ascent from the very start, heading up Turnhouse Hill (506m), following the sign leading you left towards Scald Law through fields of sheep and cows. The views back from here are superb so make sure you stop to catch your breath and take a look.
A grand traverse stretches out now along the ridge to take you to the summit of Carnethy Hill (573m). The ridge isn’t very long but the climb is steep so you’ll be guaranteed to work up a sweat. The 360 degree views from here are unquestionably stunning, so don’t forget to bring along your camera.
Now you’ve done the hard work, enjoy the long descent off Carnethy, dropping down to the right to Loganlea Reservoir where you join a gravel path turning into bitumen. Follow the route of the reservoir and then the Glencorse Reservoir all the way back to the starting point, running in a valley between all the hills.
Rehydrate and refuel at the Flotterstone Inn before making your way back to the city.
Aberlady Loop (12 miles, 138m ascent)
Head out East from Edinburgh about 16miles along the A198 following the coast you reach Aberlady Nature Reserve car park or alternatively jump on the 124/X24/X25 bus from Edinburgh to reach the start point.
Starting out on a wooden footbridge, you’ll cross heathland then reach the dunes. Heading up your first dune you’ll enjoy stunning views of the coastline before you drop down onto the beach, at low tide keep your eye out to the left for the 2 submarine wrecks just a couple of hundred yards off course to go and explore.
Head right to the east, through grassy trails or directly on the beach, keeping the water on your left. There’s plenty of fun to be had along the way with dunes to climb and rocks to clamber over.
As you reach Yellowcraigs beach you will see the lighthouse on Fidra Island. From here the path leads inland to Yellowcraigs play park and into the village of Direlton. Take on the last five to six miles along the John Muir Way heading back to the west back to the start. As you come through Gullane village, you’ll see Falko Konditorei & Kaffehaus on the left hand side of the road before you turnoff into the Gullane Golf Club to the right, willow the stone wall on the edge of the golf course. The path emerges onto the busy A198 – cross carefully and follow the footpath back to the start point.