west highland way
What I love about running in Scotland
When someone says ‘Scotland’ what’s the first thing you think of? It might be whisky, haggis, castles, kilts, bagpipes or even deep-fried Mars bars, but does running cross your mind at all? Possibly not, but it should.
Famous for stunning landscapes and dramatic scenery full of endless scenic trails and paths that can take you around; up, through or across the entire country there is possibly no better country for running than Scotland. Fair enough the weather is normally dreich, but as the saying goes……
I’m a Dutch-born, Australian raised runner living in Edinburgh and I love my city and all the beautiful areas that surround it. If you have any questions or a particular area of the UK you want to know more about then connect with me on twitter & instagram @runningdutchie and @edinruntours and I’ll be sure to get some real on the ground information to you.
I’ve fallen in love with Edinburgh so much that I now offer running tours throughout Edinburgh and beyond to the visitors that come and explore through Edinburgh Run Tours. I find when I visit a new city the best way to really come to grips with a city is to go running with a local.
Edinburgh itself is such a beautiful and compact city that a 4 mile running tour can take you through some of the main sights of the city and uncover some hidden gems. There’s not much chance of a flat run as the city, just like Rome, is built on 7 hills. Three of these, Castle Rock, Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat are right in the heart of the city all within a few hundred metres of each other and the four other hills, Corstorphine Hill, Wester Craiglockhard, Blackford Hill and Braid Hill are all within running distance hence the annual 7 hills of Edinburgh race; not for the faint hearted but if you fancy a challenge at the end of June then this one is for you or join me on a more leisurely pace tour version.
Though if you prefer the flat terrain Edinburgh does that too, with the North Sea making for quaint seaside villages stretching all the way along the picturesque John Muir Trail to North Berwick, part of this route is also used for the Edinburgh Marathon (and half) which is held every year at the end of May and known for its high PB potential as the route starts in the city and heads downhill to the beach before flattening out, just watch out for the wind that can sometimes catch you out and slow you down. This is one of my favourite winter training runs, it’s 26 miles from my front door to the train station in North Berwick so I can run along the path and normally heading east I get a tail wind and as soon as I reach my destination I jump on the train and back in Edinburgh in 35 minutes. You can choose to stay on the footpath or take the beach route and enjoy running up and down the dunes, over saltwater rock pools and past the light house to make it even more challenging.
I spend most of my week running in and around Edinburgh so on the weekends I like to get out and explore. I am privileged to have the beautiful Pentland Hills Regional Park which is only 6 miles south west from the city centre and is made up of a range of hills around 20 miles in length with 100km of way marked routes criss-crossing their way through the hills. Easy access by either bus or car (or you can run out there if you are keen) and you are away. One of my favourite little routes is to head up Scald Law and Carnethy Hill for a relatively short but challenging route with stunning views on a clear day which passes back past a reservoir, perhaps made all the more enjoyable by the fact that you park outside the Flotterstone Inn, so post run refreshment isn’t far away.
Check out my cool video on YouTube filmed in the Pentlands in January 2016 after some recent snowfall.
Going a little bit further afield to the west of Edinburgh and within an hours’ drive you are at the start of the iconic West Highland Way, which many visitors come to walk the 96 miles over a period of a few days to a week staying in huts & hostels along the way, but this route is also fabulous for running. Whether you are going to run the entire distance in the annual West Highland Way Race or just go for a leisurely run along parts of it you will be spoilt in every which way. Abundant in wildlife such as grouse, hairy cows and deer to name just a few with castles and whisky distilleries along the way and stunning vistas as you climb over undulating terrain taking in high points at Conic Hill (361m) and Devils Staircase (550m); you are exposed to a taste of the real Scotland.
Watch the YouTube video below to get a small taste of Conic Hill, filmed in January 2016.
With so many great running routes in Edinburgh and in Scotland, why not give me a shout next time you are visiting and organise your ideal running tour with me.