For a winter warm up cycle route in the Edinburgh area the Union Canal is perfect. A cycling and walking path runs alongside the canal. It is flat and traffic-free, so ideal if you are looking for something uncomplicated to get the legs moving.
The Union Canal, completed in 1822, is 31.5 miles long so there is the option to go very far. In fact, it links up with the Forth and Clyde Canal at Falkirk, so that you can cycle all the way from Edinburgh to Glasgow. If you live locally to the canal, as I do, you can take shorter journeys and then head back the way you came.
Even a short excursion along the canal will provide plenty of things to see. Some parts of the route are quite urban in appearance as it passes through several housing estates:
The community garden at Wester Hailes is a nice spot for a picnic, perhaps on a warmer day. Notice the old canoe being used as a flower planter:
Some parts of the canal had bits of ice, not yet melted from last night's freezing temperatures. Being so close to Christmas I saw some children enjoying their new presents. One family were setting up a remote control helicopter at a playground and on a football field a boy was riding around on a mini motorcycle.
There are many bridges crossing the canal that you must pass beneath. Some of them are recent additions and others are old stone bridges:
Sometimes the canal crosses over roads or water on a viaduct. This is the Scott Russell Aqueduct which passes over the Edinburgh City Bypass:
The path is popular with other cyclists, dog walkers, runners, fishermen and families out for a stroll, but the further away you get from the city centre the quieter it becomes.
For much of my route the predominant sound was the Edinburgh City Bypass traffic, but there are little pockets of wooded areas where there is birdsong and ducks pocking their heads under the surface of the canal.
So, if you live along the Union Canal it is great for an easy cycle run, particularly at this time of year when it is cold and the days are shorter meaning it is more of a challenge to go further afield.