Boundaries of Edinburgh 2009

Organized by Richard L and Michael O’C

A special day, with 5 making the whole 50 k journey and 16 taking part.

09:30 at the Steading, we were “piped off” by Bill G and his violin, a pleasant surprise, and headed East. Following the 1921 boundaries we arrived at Burdiehouse where the path had been ploughed over – spotting some deer over in another field. At Gilmerton Station road we said goodbye to the Pentlands, now wee bumps in the distance, and runners Andy M, Stewart B (visiting from HBT), Colin L, Rod D, Rodney and Richard took to the old railway which is massively overgrown, escaping at Gilmerton at a difficult climb up the embankment by the bridge (aka JBF’s gulch) to rejoin the bikers (Keith B and Michael O’C) at the entrance to the Drum.

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Through the estate where the bikers were warmly welcomed by the laird (“Get your asses of my sodding land”) and then through Danderhall to the derelict wasteland. Someone has stolen the barrier, so onwards to find another railway line (and a few trains too). Up onto the bridge and it’s duck under the motorway to find the Newhailes NT Estate. Down to the shell house. “Follow closely as the next bit’s tricky” - and sure enough we lost Rodney (only temporarily mislaid as after 20 min we found him back on the main road).

All joined up at Mario’s café (not Maggie’s) by the bike shop, meeting up with Ian K, and dived into bacon rolls and the traditional baked potato. Here we were running 1h:30 behind schedule.

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From here a fast run along the coast, with different groups taking alternative routes, and the bikers sussing out the Scottish Executive and the harbour reaches. Rod found a new route along the beach and up some steps to enjoy the works on the point. Brief catch up at the bridge in Leith and onwards…

As luck would have it, the weather had rotated round to the East, so for the run through Newhaven, Granton and into the park we had the wind on our backs. A warm sun, glorious views up over Cramond Island to the Forth Bridges, and down the trail we meet up with Margaret F (running)n and Colin P (biking) for the next leg into Cramond (more than half way round now).

Here the café on the waterfront was doing good trade, so we removed up the steps to another café (and the pub) for tea and cake, joined by Shane and Michael W game for a run. Somehow we missed Rod and Rodney, who appear to have shot past us and disappeared into the wilds (Rod quitting at 42 k cos he didn’t know the route).

Reinvigorated we headed up the Almond, under the motorway, and into Cammo Park. Emerging from the trees we could see the Pentlands again way off in the distance. Along and up to the famous dump! With ongoing tramworks the through road was blocked so down to Maaybury for a brief stop then on over the Royal Bank bridge onto the bank campus.

Another quickie stop and the final endurance ascent started. Through Millburn estate, past the broiler farm, and then there’s the railway bridge (road closed, no entry, strictly no access, etc) so of course we pressed on up and over and found the road over the motorway and canal, legs squeaking, to pass by the side of Heriot Watt and finally at the roundabout to head left on a single-track road up the hill to the railway crossing. Dusk was falling as we headed up a muddy track – only to encounter Alan H out looking for us.

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Up to the top, over the road at Blinkbonny then up and sharp left, and it was headtorches on as day became night. Fast along the contours to Woodhall Mains and to the narrow steep path up the hill (aka Biker’s Misery). Keith murmured something about ‘sting in the tail’ but he didn’t (yet) know about what was in store.

Torphin Village, tricky cut through gardens (spot the blue scarecrow) and we’re onto the golf course, over the dam on the reservoir (where we meet up with Bill G again) and cut down to Bonaly. It’s pitch dark at the gate, where the bikers head down on the ‘easy’ route and the remaining runners (Andy, Stewart, Shane, Alan, Margaret, and the organizer) feel the pain on the steep ascent of White Hill (nay, it’s only about 80 m higher than Arthur’s Seat).

From the top it’s a fast muddy run all the way down (we tried but failed to get lost), past the hut at the ford, and on to the gate with the stone style where we were to meet up with the bikers.

The Bikers’s reflect: Shortly after the Reservoir the bikers and the runners headed off in different directions. The bikers made a speedy decent from Bonaly car park towards the bypass before making a sharp right just before the bridge. Off the bikes it was then over the first fence and into a muddy field. Hoisting the bikes over the second and then third fence in the dark before moving though a forest and then fording a river, is was all very reminiscent of “Escape from Colditz.” A diagonal line was then drawn across another muddy field until we reached the old ruined house close to Howdean Burn. At this point MOC got a bit confused about the route but was luckily stopped by a combination of a large fence and Keith from heading towards Allermuir. Back on track we made our way east until opposite the Shell garage we headed south up a very muddy track. In the distance we could see the runners moving from right to left on the road we were heading towards. When we reached the road the mud was swapped for a mix of mud and hardcore. We reached the horse stables to meet up with the runners. On reflection it might have been easier carrying our bikes up White Hill.

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All onwards to Swanston, and finally we’re on the last drop down to the main road. The last 150 yds turn into a sprint finish with Stewart winning easily (darn those trotters!). The last very muddy 8 collapse into the pub for a pint, to be joined by Ian F.

Overall a good day, but long and tough (and thanks be, the weather was good). We’d lost 1h:30 by Portobello, but we got to the Steading only 35 min behind time - somehow we’d cut an hour off the route. That’s what happens when new blood joins along the way, heading off like gazelles and drawing the knackered along by sheer osmosis – thanks all! Three runners made the whole tour (Andy, Stewart, Richard) and 2 bikers (Keith B and Michael O’C), well over 32 miles, and if you think this is a “roady” trail come along next time… Thanks to every one of 16 brave folks taking part.

GPS says distance covered = 54,472 m / 33.84 miles; accumulated ascent = 1187 m

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