Author Topic: Edinburgh, UK route advice?  (Read 4470 times)

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Offline Bclayden

Edinburgh, UK route advice?
« on: August 27, 2013, 10:13:26 am »

I realize this site belongs to the AMERICAN Cycling Assoc but after some research I have come up empty looking for a simple answer.  Perhaps one of you can help.  To qualify: I am "American" and this site has helped me during my American trip planning so thought I would throw it out there.

I have 3 days to ride from/to Edinburgh, UK in early September.  I see many suggested "Cycling Routes" depicted in all different directions and wondering if anyone can suggest a general direction to head or better yet a specific route.  I prefer climbing but happy to ride on flat all day if that's necessary.  Will be staying at hotels/inns so no need to camp and can return by rail to make it a one-way trip.  The local cycling websites with route info are of the short 15-30 mile variety.  I am after an 80-100 miles per day plan.

Let's hear it...North, West or South?

Thanks!  -Ben
« Last Edit: August 27, 2013, 10:15:02 am by Bclayden »

Offline mdxix

Re: Edinburgh, UK route advice?
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2013, 12:36:24 pm »
Another resource to check is the Cyclists' Touring Club (CTC) in the UK and their forum.

Offline Falconetti

Re: Edinburgh, UK route advice?
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2013, 07:31:04 am »
I agree that the CTC website is probably the most convenient way to find suitable UK routes for cycling.   For what it is worth I would suggest heading South from Edinburgh into the Scottish Border region and Northumbria.    Maybe take a look at Lindisfarne Island.    If you are looking at big mileages then that region will support such a tour but the cycling can be pretty tough and be mindful of the time of year because the weather in Scotland can be........inclement....... to say the very least.


Offline Kitch

Re: Edinburgh, UK route advice?
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2013, 11:59:46 am »
Jennifer at ACA emailed me and suggested I get in touch.

I live in Edinburgh but in 2011 spent 6 months in the US cycling across it.  I was more into the touring 50 miles a day, taking my time idea of things, but I think I can help you.

You say you want climbing so to me going south out of edinburgh isn't going to give you that. The Borders are pretty and good cycling, but it's rolling hills not so much climbing.

Starting in the city of Edinburgh itself to then get challenging cycling is going to be tricky. Basically the big mountains and harder cycling doesn't really kick in until you ate into the Highlands, which is a few hours train ride north away.

Sustrans offers good ideas (

Also they have maps tailored to what you might want to do (

I hope this helps you a little.


Offline mathieu

Re: Edinburgh, UK route advice?
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2013, 02:47:27 pm »
I recommend to go south-east and buy the Sustrans map Coast and Castles South. It has a circuit Edinburgh - Berwick-upon-Tweed - Melrose - Innerleithen - Edinburgh, following bicycle paths and quiet backroads (176 miles). The ride to Berwick follows more or less the coast line, the stretch to Melrose follows the River Tweed and between Innerleithen and Edinburgh you'll ascent a pass of 400 m altitude. There are many scenic alternates in the Tweed valley suggested by the map if you would aim for 100 mi/day. 
« Last Edit: September 02, 2013, 05:06:53 pm by mathieu »

Offline Bclayden

Re: Edinburgh, UK route advice?
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2013, 09:48:55 pm »
Thank you all for your input!  Looks to me any direction is a good direction. 

My ride actually starts/ends at the Edinburgh airport private terminal so I will avoid most city traffic and have elected to head Northwest for a 2.5 day clockwise loop through Stirling, Killin and Perth..just about 200 miles.  Not a lot but the best I can fit into my short stay.  Most of the route follows NCN routes with a bit of improvising along country roads using Google Map and the Street View function for planning.   

I wish I had more time to explore the region. 

Thanks again.  Now, if it would just stay dry.

Offline Bclayden

Re: Edinburgh, UK route advice?
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2013, 10:21:29 am »
Follow-up for those interested-

Completed about 300 miles from Edinburgh in a clockwise loop through the Highlands and back to Edinburgh.

Started out trying to follow the National Cycle Network routes but soon bailed from that.  The NCN is a fabulous concept and useful to many but I struggled with the random nature of the cycling conditions.  Although well marked it's still very tricky to navigate along them through the big towns...lots of back streets, canal towpaths, parks and random turns.   Very slow going.  In order to cover 100 miles per day I eventually found it easier to use the roads. 

Also the NCN routes I followed often run along unimproved roads, sometimes Jeep tracks, and totally unsuitable for a road bike  While using roads I caught up with parts of the NCN here and there and some of it was fine for my skinny tires but once the route veered off into the woods I would pick up the nearest "B" route. "B" roads are much better for road bikes...mostly nice country lanes with light traffic.

I was excepting the NCN routes to be like the ACA routes...good cross country routes for the distance cyclist... but it seems it's geared toward a totally different kind of cyclist..much like riding on your local recreation trail.  Once out of the developed areas the NCN routes were very nice in spots but not what I was expecting.  My mistake I suppose.

In the Scottish Highlands there are many great climbs if you're into that sort of thing and pretty good but slow descending on the narrow roads.  Gotta watch out for the numerous loose and very sharp rocks washed down from the most recent rain and sheep everywhere including lying in the road.

All in all a good ride with some scenic villages and nice places to overnight  Got wet here and there and overcast nearly the whole ride but generally dry  Best part?  A nice pint at the end of a long day. Worst?  Several pinch flats one day due to many sharp rocks in the road and sheep poop all over the tires during tube changes. 

Haggis with neeps and tatties make a nice meal at the end of a long day.   

All-in-all I recommend riding in the Scottish Highlands but for the serious cycling tourer who wants to cover 100 miles in a day stick to the mellow back roads.   A mountain bike would be more suitable for the NCN in the Scottish Highlands.