Top 5 Cycling Routes Around Edinburgh
Edinburgh is renowned for its stunning architecture and rich history. Take just a short 30-minute drive from the centre, however, and you will be confronted with a completely different side to this iconic city. A fantastic way to discover more of Edinburgh and the Lothians is on two wheels and there is certainly no shortage of fantastic cycling routes in and around the city.
From views of the Firth of Forth to the majestic Pentland hills, you can truly experience the best of Edinburgh on your bike. That’s why we asked Alpine Bike’s own Craig Robertson to come up with a list of some of his favorite cycling routes in and around the city. So if you're an intermediate rider who is keen to check out some new trails, you can't go wrong with this diverse selection of rides that showcase some of Edinburgh's most iconic landscapes.
1) The Yellow Brick Road:
A fun cycle route with an epic final descent
- Distance: 21.7 miles
- Elevation: 2,169 ft
- Time (Approx.): 1hrs30 - 2hrs
A short drive South West of the city will take you to the heart of the Pentland hills Regional Park which is the starting point for this locally renowned route. This is the perfect ride for those who really want to test the limits of their gravel bike, the crux of which is a roller coaster of a 2-mile, boulder strewn stretch that is known locally as the “Yellow Brick Road” (even though it could be considered more of an orange). On a mountain bike, this is a fun ride that shouldn’t present too much of a challenge. If you really want to spice it up, however, you will find that the best rewards will come from finding your flow on a drop-barred bike. To tie it up nicely, the ride ends with an exhilarating final descent down past Eastside Farm to Silverburn, what more could you ask for.
2) 5 Peaks:
A challenging cycle route with stunning views
- Distance: 20.3 miles
- Elevation: 4,829 ft
- Time (Approx.): 3hrs30 - 4hrs
Looking up at the Pentlands from Edinburgh, it’s clear that linking all those summits up into one big loop would be an epic ride. Surprisingly, the climbing involved isn’t all that great once you’re up onto the plateau. It’s a committing ride, however, and demands technical ability and physical fitness. You’ll have a stunning view of Edinburgh (and beyond) for almost the entire ride, but bear in mind that the descents from Scald Law, and then Carnethy down to Flotterstone demand maximum concentration.
3) Thieves’ Road:
A varied cycle route with a little bit of everything
- Distance: 32.0 miles
- Elevation: 2,713 ft
- Time (Approx.): 2hrs45 - 3hrs15
This ancient right of way through the Pentlands to the historic village of West Linton is a big undertaking that delivers a real remote feel. The Thieves’ Road itself has little bit of everything to offer, from loose, fast fire road to lumpy singletrack, and even some hike-a-bike… Thankfully, the return via Monk’s Rig is guaranteed to earn you plenty of gravity credits to cash in on your way back. If you are up for the challenge, give it a go!
4) Bow Beat:
A longer cycle route to suit the ambitious gravel rider
- Distance: 53.5 miles
- Elevation: 5,921 ft
- Time (Approx.): 5hrs - 5hrs30
Thanks to the burgeoning renewable energy industry, Scotland is blessed with plenty of wind-farms that offer some great gravel riding. It’s the closest you’ll get in this country to the kind of gravel we more often see in America; well graded roads and huge skies. Bow Beat sits high up above the Tweed Valley to the south, and a network of minor roads in Midlothian to the north, which allows easy access from Edinburgh. An ambitious rider could ride out from Edinburgh and over the wind-farm for a lap of the Blue Route at Glentress, before riding back…
5) Arthur's Seat:
An easy access cycle route for those short on time
If you are an Edinburgh based road rider then it goes without saying that you have an amazing facility in Arthur’s Seat. If you aren’t blessed with the time (or the weather) for a big hack south over the Granites or east through the mecca of Gifford, then getting in a lap (or even 3 if you’re feeling energetic) of Arthur is great fun, whether you choose to tackle it clockwise or anti-clockwise. It's guaranteed to give you a real alpine feel and as it’s a popular route to tackle, there’s always another rider around the next corner to help pace you.