The traffic-free cycle route from Edinburgh to Musselburgh is about 6 miles, so if you fancy an easy ride to the banks of the River Esk and an ice cream from the famous S.Luca read on.
The route can be started in the Meadows. Look for the the National Cycle Network Route One blue signs and keep following these.
Soon you will find yourself proceeding down a 320m tunnel that was part of a disused railway. This is really exciting to cycle through with dim lighting and a drop in temperature. On a roasting hot day this tunnel is probably the best place in the city to cool down. It always surprises me that the tunnel is actually quite steep inside it, so in this direction it is a speedy descent, but a long and gradual climb on the way back.
This tunnel is one of Edinburgh's secrets and it takes a bit of effort to find it. The entrance is located within a residential complex of flats. It is a very unlikely place to find an old railway tunnel. The first time I tried to find it I got lost.
The tunnel was part of the Innocent Railway, Edinburgh's first railway, so-called because it was a horse-drawn system in an era when steam engines were considered dangerous. It opened in 1831 and was originally designed to carry coal from Dalkieth to the capital, but passengers became an important source of income.
Disused railways are great for cycling because the paths are usually well-surfaced and flat.
After leaving the tunnel the route takes you past Arthur's Seat and the verges are alive with foliage and flowers.
The route continues along this flat path, shielded by trees and bushes from the busy capital beyond. Barking dogs, lawnmowers and someone practicing their electric guitar the only signs that you are in a major city.
Then you come across remains of a railway cast iron bridge.
At this location there is an information panel about the railway.
Edinburgh's 'Other Castle'
At this point you have an opportunity to make a short detour to Craigmillar Castle. The cycle route crosses Duddingston Road West, but if you turn right onto this road and continue straight on for 1 mile you will reach the castle. More detailed directions, photos and information about the castle are on my blog about the castle.
Continuing on the cycle path to Musselburgh you will pass through mainly residential areas, parks and playgrounds. It becomes much more obvious that you are in a city.
When you reach Brunstane Station, where you come across the large homewares shop, the signage is slightly confusing. You should follow the National Cycle Route One signs which mean you must take your bike over the railway footbridge.
You will soon reach the village of Newcraighall. It was a mining village until the mine closed in 1968. There are some pretty miner's cottages that you pass on Newcraighall Road. This is the only section of busy road on the route and you will be on it for a very short time.
There is also an interesting fountain in Newcraighall. It was constructed by residents "to show their high esteem" for a doctor who served the community for 30 years.
To continue on the route you turn right on Newcraighall Road, but if you turn left you can reach Newhailes, a handsome Georgian villa where you can go on a guided tour and have cake in the stables tearoom.
The route then takes you via Queen Margaret University to Musselburgh train station. From here you travel through estates of semi-detached houses to reach the centre of Musselburgh, via the River Esk path.
You could visit Inveresk Lodge Gardens, accessed from the River Esk path. These are beautiful and peaceful gardens that are worth the short detour. Read my blog about the gardens to find out more.
The River Esk is a great spot to enjoy the sunshine with an ice cream from the famous S.Luca which has been making the stuff since 1908.
After this ride you might want to try a local beer. Read my review of Musselburgh Broke
Read my blog about Newhailes when I went on a tour of this handsome villa.
Musselburgh is in East Lothian and I have written several blogs about cycling and things to see and do in this region. Read about East Lothian
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle. Follow my blog on Facebook: