Edinburgh

"This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again."
Alexander McCall Smith

Welcome to the UK's coolest capital. Nestled at the foot of the Scottish highlands, Edinburgh is the cultural and intellectual center of Britain's north. You can't move your foot here without stepping on history. While that history is more often associated with her infamous political figures, such as Robert the Bruce and Mary Queen of Scots, Edinburgh has also produced some of the world's smartest people. Where would we be without city natives James Hutton (the father of geology), John Napier (the inventor of the logarithm), and Alexander Graham Bell (the inventor of that one thing that rings)? Many artists have also historically made Edinburgh their home, and the writers who gave us Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), Kidnapped (Robert Louis Stevenson), and Rob Roy (Sir Walter Scott) all spent significant time in this city.

While there is no evidence that any of the above figures were runners, chances are they might have been. After all, there is some downright fantastic running to be had in this city. You can run short or long, hills or flats, and there is enough open territory to train for an ultra marathon. The routes we mention are all easily accessible from the center of town, with paths and alternatives for athletes of all abilities.

Edinburgh itself is divided into two parts - Old Town and New Town. The New Town is centered around Princes Street, George Street, and Queen Street. On the other side of Princes Street Gardens and Waverly Station, Old Town cascades down a steep hill. At the top of the hill is the iconic Edinburgh Castle. The Castle is visible from almost any point in the city, and can be used as a good navigation marker. The Royal Mile starts at the Castle and runs the length of Old Town down to Holyrood Palace. Nearby is Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh's highest point and another good navigation marker.

The three BTG runs are in Old Town part of the city. If you are staying in New Town, you can get to them via The Mound, Waverly Bridge, or North Bridge. 

Watch Out For: 
  • Ghosts: Burning witches, hanging criminals, beheaded revolutionaries. This storied city has a dark past, and rumors abound about the ghosts that continue to haunt the Royal Mile. Check into Tourist Information to find out about Haunted Edinburgh walking tours.
  • Spittle: At the head of the Royal Mile crazy cobblestones will impede your run, but these aren't just any cobbles. Pay close attention when you're heading up the road past St. Giles Cathedral. You will see a series of brass bricks intermingled with the old stones. They mark the original foundations of the Tolbooth of Edinburgh. The building, originally constructed in the 15th century, started off as a tax-collecting establishment but was transformed into a prison. Numerous public executions were conducted just outside the Tolbooth's gate. The building was destroyed in 1817, but the brass stones mark the points where the original walls stood. The heart-shaped series of stones in the middle of it mark the spot where the the condemned prisoners' cell used to be. Before they took those unlucky ones out to be hung/burned/beheaded, the prisoners would spit over their left shoulders, in defiance of their fate. Today it is still tradition to spit over your left shoulder onto this Heart of Midlothian. So tread carefully - the stones get slippery when they are wet. 
  • Haggis: See "Sweet Rewards"

Did you know? What do David Hume, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Irvine Welsh, and J.K. Rowling have in common? Believe it or not, all of these writers were from or produced their greatest works in Edinburgh. You can check out the birthplaces of Hume and Stevenson as you wander the old town streets, and refresh yourself with a cup of coffee in the cafe where Rowling composed her first Harry Potter book. See "Cutting Corners" for more information.

In the mood to rent a bike? Bike Trax offers cycle hire, tons of bikes, and all the necessities
11-13 Lochrin Place - (0131) 228.6633
http:/www.biketrax.co.uk/