Why Edinburgh might be Scotland's greatest outdoor gym

EDINBURGH is world famous for its history, culture, and outstanding beauty '“ the latter makes it one of Scotland's, if not the world's, most picturesque workout. Emma O'Neill explains why

Edinburgh offers an abundance of places to run Picture: Ian Rutherford


There are many flat roads around the endless rolling hills of Edinburgh. Some include the tarmaced Queens Drive around the edge of Holyrood Park. With gentle inclines, it would make for an easy – and beautiful – circuit. Union Canal is a popular cycle route too, yet it never seems so busy that you’d struggle for space. The same goes for the Water of Leith, which passes Dean Village, the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, the Royal Botanic Garden and other great places to explore.

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Arthurs Seat is an obvious choice for hill walking, but there are so many other locations around Edinburgh and the Lothians that offer breathtaking scenery. The Pentland Hills regional park, for example, has 100km of marked routes perfect for any level of fitness. Spend an entire day exploring the walkways of the hills and glens, stopping off by Threipmuir reservoir for a packed lunch.

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While this should only be carried out by those with prior experience or with a local club, the capital offers plenty for water enthusiasts on the Union Canal. The canal, starting at Fountainbridge, stretches 31 miles right up to the Falkirk Wheel. You might not be feeling as adventurous at that, but the canal affords some wonderful views either way. The leaf lined canal will take you up past Heriot-Watt, along the back of the Kelpies and out to the Falkirk Wheel.


Running up Arthurs Seat? No-one said exercise was easy. While the trail is only three miles long, the sharp incline is a stern test of endurance, granting spectacular views of the city at the top.

If you don’t think your lungs will handle it, there are plenty of other places to stretch your legs without having to fight through crowds of tourists.

The Water of Leith walkway comes in just shy of a half marathon at 12 3/4 miles, with the odd sighting of a Heron or Kingfisher. A popular summer hangout for university students, The Meadows offer a green panorama for pushing yourself on to your fitness goals.


The Pentlands are an obvious choice for mountain bikers. With numerous trails to try, visiting every weekend for a few months still won’t see you make it round them all. Other options include Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat.