On your bike! A cyclist’s guide to Edinburgh's festivals
Edinburgh is a fantastic city to cycle around, and during August it's a great way to get around and see everything that's on offer. So join us on a pedal-power journey round the city’s August festivals.
Cycling in Edinburgh is great fun and will give you a new perspective on the city as you whizz past the crowds and the taxi queues, taking advantage of routes no motor vehicle can get at.
It's also more environmentally conscious, which means our friends at Creative Carbon Scotland will be pleased. So don your gear, pack some light essentials and please remember to ride safely.
The city centre itself can be a bit tricky by bike, particularly during August, so we're going to start by heading away from the busiest parts before finishing back in town, with lots of more peaceful parts in between.
Here's a map of one suggested route, designed to be completed in different parts, so that you can stop and enjoy the various festival opportunities on the way.
Begin at the top of Leith Walk just opposite the Playhouse (you could even get the bike-friendly tram to York Place nearby). One landmark to look out for is a HUGE Edinburgh International Festival poster on the glass front of the Omni Centre - if you see that, you're in the right place!
The Walk has a full length cycle path going straight to the bottom so enjoy the easy, gravity-assisted roll downhill and swing into some of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe venues en route.
Once you reach the bottom, cross Duke Street and zoom down Constitution Street, then left onto Bernard Street to reach the picturesque Shore and see a side of Edinburgh not often glimpsed by visitors. Filled with delicious eateries and bars, have lunch al fresco and enjoy the view of where the Water of Leith reaches the docks and the North Sea.
By the afternoon you’ll be ready to head back to town, but before you leave Leith, pedal slightly further north to Albert Dock and see the Edinburgh Art Festival's specially-commissioned Dazzle Ship, a striking flash of colour and energy amid the greys, greens and blues of the port-side.
But now it's time to begin the journey back uphill and a great way to go is via the Water of Leith Walkway which you'll reach by crossing the river at Albert Dock and travelling south west for a few minutes, crossing the busy Commercial Street.
The Walkway will suit off-road bikes better, but there are also good cycle path alternatives nearby for road bikers to use.
Follow the leafy and secluded waterside path for about 4 miles until you reach the Scottish National Galleries of Modern Art for some more cultural goodness from Edinburgh Art Festival. Here you can enjoy the exhibitions inside as well as the wonderful sculpture park and landscape architecture. There are bike racks here so chain up and explore both magnificent gallery buildings.
As the day's end approaches cycle back into town via Belford Road to the West End and pop into Charlotte Square Gardens for an evening session at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Discuss literature with authors, hear stories and tales from foreign lands and meet fellow fans of the written form.
And finally, take the short ride west to Castle Street, dismount and find a spot to enjoy the magical Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo fireworks as they burst above the castle. You'll have covered around 8 miles (with a total ride time of 1 to 1.5 hours) experienced as many as 5 different festivals and gathered a whole saddlebag full of memories.
Find out more about cycling in Edinburgh at www.innertubemap.com
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