Boundaries of Edinburgh

Saturday February 2nd 2008

Richard L and Michael O'C

I hasted to Edinburgh, taking all the bye and unfrequented paths
(James Hogg, 1824)

On a freezing cold Saturday morning, hills dusted with snow, we headed for the Steading to start a long cold run. Why? In training for the Fling and the WHW (Michael) we thought to run around the city boundaries (has anyone done the tour?) Then we chanced upon JBF who volunteered his support. For Michael this was the first major challenge since injury last year. Departing 10.30 we ran the pub run in reverse direction through icy mud, took a few wrong turns, then down to the bypass to pick up the old Gilmerton Railway. Not such a good idea, rails still there along most of the track, but overgrown with brambles; we struggled up the steep embankment to find the Drum estate.

Fast through to Danderhall, then into a very large area of old tarmac, what's this? - a Roman park&ride, or a WWII anti-aircraft site? No idea. Found the old railway again and then it was a duck under the A1 and into the Newhailes National Trust estate, decanting us onto the sea-front at Joppa. No let up until Portobello, when we found a wee cafe for a cuppa.

Down to 2 runners when JBF headed off back over Arthur's Seat; we had a very fast run to Cramond (31k), Caer-Almond. Carry-out tea from the cafe on the river and it was up the delightful Almond Glen, river in flood, and headed south into a soggy Cammo Park. Aircraft descending to Turnhouse just above our heads. At the top a glimpse of the Pentlands in the distance, the first time since turning our backs on Caerketton hours before, a welcome sight that quickened our pace. Over the railway to find the Glasgow Road with a bit of climbing through a construction site, cross the road and into the Royal Bank's opulent campus, some folk have a bob or two! Heriot-Watt (41k), over a railway level-crossing and finally, dusk falling, back into the Pentlands.

Here we snarled up. Taking a wrong turn we ended up running along the embankment of the bypass in the dark, not a good idea, but reached the foot of White Hill all covered in snow where headtorch hit the ground spilling batteries, difficult to get them back with numb fingers. We'd planned to do Allermuir but in trail-shoes the steep snowy ascent was not going to be easy, and a strong cold wind was blowing in freezing rain, so we sought an alternative route along the contours, a punishment indeed because the tracks were thick with mud and ice and navigation was hit or miss, mostly miss. Finally the lights of Hillend in the distance (52 k, 32 miles) after 7-ish hours plus a few stops and mishaps. The Steading - shoes off, pint, food, warmth.

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