(Reporting the RUN round the city boundary - with the BICYCLE circo account beneath)
Sat 22nd February

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As Saturday approached the line-up for Circo was looking fairly thin. It has never been an event that’s attracted many, to be fair. I was concerned that after an evening of call-offs (especially the anonymous text message at 2am saying that they were on a night-out and unlikely to make the start), that it’d be just me and Graham. Alas no, there were about 14 at the start, including a mix of Carnethies, Harmenys and a couple of Westies. A surprising number, but all good!

The first couple of miles cover the familiar ground of Morton House, then across a field to the Straiton Substation. Mark took offence at the 20m of ploughed field and led a rogue faction another way, though perhaps not the best route, and so there was a bit of a wait for them at Straiton. Onwards to the disused railway to see Edinburgh’s finest collection of broken car parts, household rubbish, spare tyres, dumped rubble and smashed bottles. A beautiful sight. I hear that Sustrans are taking-over the line and converting it into a cycle path, so it may be getting cleaned up soon and maybe next year it’ll be a different place. Rod broke-off and made a dash for the Drum Estate and we continued on the old railway line to Danderhall. A quick skip around the fields next to the new Borders railway, through some leg-slashing brambles, and down to Newcraighall. The Newhailes House estate provided a welcome splash of grandeur after the Millerhill section. A quick head count for bacon and egg rolls, phoned ahead, and off to the beach into Porty and our first stop of the day - The Espy. Keith and the gang were already inside getting their fill.

The Espy
Ales: 4/5 (a good range!)
Tea and coffee: 5/5 (a great selection of fancy-pants coffee)
Real fires: 0/5 (booo!)
Food: 5/5 (a very posh bacon roll, very tasty too)
Facial piercings: 5/5 (a very lovely barmaid too).

We said cheerio to some of the Harmeny lads, lost mike, but gained Euan and Lisa. Back onto the beach to Leith, then onto Leith Links. Once at the Water Of Leith there really is no other option that to slog it out along the road to Granton Point, tarmac all the way. Thankfully The Starbank Inn is nearby to pop-in for a (optional) half pint or a cup of tea.

The Starbank Inn
Ales: 4/5 (another solid selection of real ales)
Tea and coffee: 5/5 (tea in wee pots, very civilised)
Real fires: 5/5 (blazing!)
One-way system for visiting toilets: 5/5

Back onto the road for Cramond, but not far until we can get onto the grass at the promenade. The runners stretched out a bit here, some dipping down onto the sand, others staying on the tarmac, or running along the wall, or on the grass. Everyone starting to feel the mileage a bit, but the warm sunshine and pleasant weather made it all a bit better. A couple of the Harmeny lads made a bold attempt at winning Bob’s Wooden Spoon prize this year: They left a car at Cramond so they could head off early, and drove another car to the Steading for the start….unfortunately they forgot to take the keys for the car at Cramond with them, they were in a bag at the Steading, only realising their mistake as they approached. Oh dear. Thankfully an understanding wife was able help them out. Sorry lads, I think you have to be a Carnethy Member to win the Wooden Spoon prize, but it was a good attempt!

The Cramond Inn
Ales: 5/5 (great selection of Sam Smith ales, excellent prices!)
Food: 5/5 (yes, you get 5/5 for a bowl of chips and a packet of crisps, I’m easy to please)
Tea and coffee: 5/5
Real fires: 4/5 (Two fires were roaring, but the one near where we were sitting was not – drops a point)
Pensioner spotting: 5/5 (there were loads of them!)

Traditionally the final section is where it all happens. We dropped the final pair of Harmeny fellas, dropped Lisa and Sally, and gained a Neil Burnett, Andy, along with a Mary & Matt. The Almond Walkway tested our legs with some sharp uphills, just to get them going before the hills proper. Into Cammo, a photo at the old house, then down past the stables to the old tower. The Pentlands loomed in the distance, we could see our destination and we were heading straight for them. Through the council compost section, over the railway next to the airport, and then to the new section of this route. In previous years we would cut across the RBS bridge and along the road to Heriot Watt – not particularly nice, and the Millburn Tower people tended to shout at us. This year, we took advantage of the new tram route, and dipped under the A8 to take us through the Gyle. The landscaped gardens of this financial sector provided a lovely running surface, with the sunshine glinting off the bonny (artificial) Loch Ross, and a neat cycle path under the city bypass brought us out near Heriot Watt. A very worthwhile change to the route, methinks. Through Heriot Watt, then a climb to Currie. Another change this year, we popped through a playpark (Cam and I had a shot of the flying fox – it’d be rude not to), then into the Kinleith Arms. This was another optional stop, but our progress was too fast and it looked likely that we were going to miss meeting some others so it seemed like a good idea.

The Kinleith Arms
Ales: 4/5 (3 ale pumps, not too shabby)
Tea and coffee: 0/5 (oh dear, I think they were understaffed – it was quite busy)
Real fires: 0/5 (oh, the humanity!)
Ability to watch the final, winning, drop-kick of the Scotland rugby match: 10/5 (perfect timing!)

We dropped Andy as he wasn’t feeling great, a shame as the good bit was just about to start. Down to the Water of Leith, about 10miles upstream from where we last crossed it, then up to Woodhouse Farm. This is where we get into the hills. Over to, and across, Torphin golf course, past Torduff Reservoir, and up White Hill where we met the Presidential party of Willie and Moira to lead us home. Willie brought some whisky mac to heat us up, and Graham produced some home-made berry gin, perfect as a wee pick-me-up over the final set of hills. The sunshine had passed, and some rain started, but we were well prepared so it wasn’t a hardship. This year we decided to hold-on to the height we’d just climbed, and continue up along the ridge. To Capelaw, Allermuir, and finally Caerketton. Mary and Matt were slandered for their shocking display of fresh legs, bounding down the hills, while the rest of us wheezed and creaked. How very dare they! Finishing on the summit of Caerketton is a lovely way to end the run, and gives you a real sense of achievement. Despite the drizzle, we could make-out the major points of the run, Portobello, and Cramond. Also, the best part was that it was literally all downhill from here, the hard part of the run was over, we’d done it. From here, a gentle trot down to where it all started, several hours ago, to get changed and get some food…and some more beer, of course! We met the cyclists inside, they had managed to secure a lovely spot next to the fire for as all to relax – fantastic!

The Steading
Ales: 5/5 (Edinburgh Gold on tap – how fitting!)
Tea and coffee: 5/5 Food: 5/5 (fish & chips, very nice!)
Real fires: 5/5 (the best yet) Kindly hosting us all while we all unwound: 5/5

I *think* we had around 22 people out running at least some of the course, across three different running clubs. Kudos to the “all rounders” of: Graham Nash, Mark Hartree, Hilary Holding, Cameron Burt, John Donnelly, Rod Dalitz, and me (I was glad of the company). It was good fun, a good laugh with plenty of banter, and a great way to spend a day! Thanks to all who made it possible, to all who came along, and a big thanks to Keith for organising the cyclists. pecial thanks to Cameron and John for making the journey through from the west coast. 

Cam’s written a wee write-up on his club’s site, here: Westies report... And John’s photos here

(you can read about previous years' runs here).
Jim Hardie
The Bicycle Circo

By popular assent the bike version avoided the disgracefully landowner-blocked Gilmerton railway cutting by taking the Fairmilehead – Burdiehouse Burn – Drum Estate alternative.  This provided tolerable hazards of mud and water rather than the old mattresses and Colditz wire-tangles of the railway cutting.  We collected Nick at Danderhall library as substitute guide for the Millerhill Borders Railway works diversion (Digby having absconded to London at the last minute for metropolitan art rather than live Edinburgh suburban bike-theatre in the round).  The north-eastern diversion around the new Borders Railway work was surprisingly straightforward, although we missed the national car fender heritage museum, which has probably now been lost forever.

Breezy sunshine greeted us on the Porty prom where we relaxed with tea and bacon butties to while away our now substantial lead on the runners (thanks to no breakdowns).  The runners arrived soon after and we had a second mass start for the eastward coastline leg to Cramond, some on the beach, others on the prom, regrouping at the Seafield sewage works, refreshingly unsmelly in the strong southwesterly.

We traversed Leith Links and the emerging waterfront through the fascinating mixture of industrial heritage and new architecture.  One member was unimpressed by the heritage railway lines when, focussing on the flange grooves in order to avoid them, was hypnotically drawn grooveward and showed how well a 2in mtb tyre fits in the groove, crashing to the ground, but thankfully bruising only pride.

The Granton - Cramond prom. prompted some aggressive draughting into the strong headwind until the group fell apart with the growing pace.  Cramond gave us a long lunch break before working on the lead we needed on the runners for the Pentlands.  Next followed the Cramond valley obstacle course of steps, mud and ultra narrow escape passage to the Cammo estate approach road.  The Cammo mud trail was particularly gluey and we were ready for some tarmac by the time we reached the Turnhouse recycling dump.  The trains, planes and tram attractions followed.  Jim’s early reccy of the new tram landscape was most valuable and we plunged down the tram embankment to the jaws of the new tram tunnel under the A8.  Any other Euro-nation would have incorporated a pedestrian / cycle passage.  At least there’s handrail and we were able to emerge from the tunnel at the new Gyle tram stop, but for how long will this be possible?  Next followed the Gyle futurescape of commercial office architecture, green tram highway and water features to the culvert under the city bypass.  Thus to Gogarbank House and the haul up to the Pentlands via Heriot Watt campus and the cyclists’ penalty loop to Kinleith.

We were now down to two for the end game.  Clubbiedean and Torduff reservoirs were passed with a welcome tail wind.  The traverse path from Torduff to Bonally car park has been engineered into safe submission rather than the interesting narrow track that was.  That’s a pity.  White Hill provided the usual struggle to the upper swamp, by which time ambitious earlier muttering about Allermuir summit had faded away.  We sprinted down to the final boglands above Dreghorn for an unusually early pint, fish and chips, arriving just as the first rain of the day set in.

Jon W, John L, Elaine, Nick, Keith.

Keith Burns



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