Six scenic Edinburgh cycle routes to try this spring
Cramond cycle in Edinburgh

With the Edinburgh Cycle Challenge running until 21 March, offering everyone a chance to win prizes by taking a short (or long) bike ride, Challenge Manager Claire Connachan offers some suggestions for city routes that you may otherwise have missed.

Spring is most definitely in the air in Edinburgh, with lighter mornings and evenings meaning there’s no better time to dust down your bike and consider a trip into the great outdoors.

In addition, registering for the Edinburgh Cycle Challenge (for free) could see you take home a brand-new bike, as well as many other goodies.

Need some suggestions for picturesque pedalling and a few ideas for those vital tea and cake pit stops? Look no further…

The Union Canal to Ratho

The Union Canal cuts through the heart of the city and is a great option for new riders. It’s flat, off-road, very pretty, and connects several communities through the west of Edinburgh. Start at the Lochrin Basin at Fountainbridge and take a pleasant and relaxed eight mile cycle out to the Bridge Inn in Ratho for a spot to eat before your return jaunt. We can also confirm that the Bridge Inn does the world’s largest and most yummy onion rings.

View the route.

The Cramond Loop

This well-loved 13 mile scenic loop is ideal for those less confident in traffic. Most of the ride is on path, and what little road there is tends to be pretty quiet. Start at Russell Road and make your way down the North Edinburgh path network to Barnton, where you can gawk at some fancy mansions and wonder who lives there. Cycle onwards to Cramond, stopping at the Cramond Falls Cafe for some immense scones or a slice of homemade cake. The second half of the ride offers lovely coastal views, before looping back up into the city.

View the route.

Bust those lungs with the Holyrood Park loop

Braw view on a braw morning #Edinburgh #arthursseat #cycling #wow247citylove

A photo posted by Claire C (@crabbitclaire) on

Holyrood Park offers breathtaking views across Edinburgh; seeing them by bike is enormously rewarding. Yes, there is a big hill to climb – we won’t deny it takes a bit of effort! Happily, on a Sunday much of the park is closed to traffic, so if you fancy exerting yourself you can do it with a bunch of other runners and cyclists (and hardly any cars). Start your three mile loop at the Parliament and cycle around the park clockwise. You’ll get fit, have fun and afterwards can reward yourself with a hearty lunch at Hemma. The Croque Madame is worth climbing for, yum.

View the route.

Pedal to the Pentlands

Continuing on the theme of hills, a post about cycling in Edinburgh wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the glorious Pentlands. With over 100km of off-road track, these stunning hills are right on our doorstep and are perfect for exploring on a mountain bike. If you don’t want to get too muddy, you can always take a packed lunch and cycle the Water of Leith path, through Balerno and up to the Harlaw and Threipmuir reservoirs. The Pentlands Regional Park often has an ice cream van at Harlaw so reward yourself with a ‘99 after riding to the reservoirs.

View the return 23 mile route.

East Lothian Loop

#mtb #EastLothian #Pencaitland

A photo posted by mike (@yodagoat) on

This 31 mile route offers up coastline, city riding, quiet country roads and railway paths – it’s perfect for a weekend. Start at Portobello and join the River Esk path. From there cycle though Cousland and take quiet roads to Pencaitland. This stretch of East Lothian offers up much in the way of industrial history, so keep your eyes peeled for shale bings and mining landmarks. After arriving in Port Seton a stop at Cockenzie House is recommended for refreshments. The return is along the East Lothian coastline with gorgeous views.

View the route.

Gladhouse Reservoir Loop

If you fancy really stretching your legs, take a trip to the Gladhouse Reservoir on the cusp of Midlothian and the Borders. Starting from Edinburgh, route NCN1 provides a lot of path and quiet roads, including old railway lines that have been converted for walking and cycling. This 51 mile round trip includes cracking views across Midlothian, a fair bit of industrial heritage (look out for abandoned lime kilns) and a cycle alongside the north of the Gladhouse reservoir.

View the route.

If you feel inspired to get out on your bike and explore Edinburgh and further afield, remember to log your trips with the Edinburgh Cycle Challenge, running until 21 March.

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Main photo: Ross Aitken/theweegoblin on Instagram