21.5km Meadows, Portobello Edinburgh Cycle
This route follows National Cycle Route 75, which is mostly well-paved with one pedestrian overpass where you will need to carry your bike. Ride to sights such as Calton Hill, the Royal Yacht Britannia, Portobello Beach, and Holyrood Park (which you can easily ride around following the quick detour instructions given below).
Our route starts at Calton Hill.
One will most likely not get a more picturesque viewpoint of the city, and beyond, than at Calton Hill. Monuments and buildings are scattered over the hill such as the National Monument, Nelson Monument, and City Observatory. The National Monument, meant to resemble the Parthenon in Athens, was to serve as a memorial to the Scottish soldiers and sailors in the Napoleonic War. However, due to a lack of funds was left unfinished which, in typical Scottish fashion, then developed a few nicknames such as “Edinburgh’s Disgrace” and “Scotland’s Folly”. You will most likely find several people posing for photos between the pillars.
Exit down the stairs then turn right onto Regent Road then right onto Leith Street. At the next big intersection, turn left onto York Place.
At the second traffic light, turn right into Dublin Street/National Cycle Route 75.
At the green patch, follow the curve right onto Scotland Street. At the island on the road with trees, turn left around it and into King George V Park to follow the National Cycle Route 75 pathway.
At the small roundabout in the park, turn right then follow the curve into the short Rodney Street Tunnel. At the tunnel exit, continue to follow the pathway, National Cycle Route 75.
After crossing the short bridge over the Water of Leith, continue slightly right through the trees to stay on the cycle route. Part 5 of the 21.5km Meadows, Portobello Edinburgh Cycle
Continue following the signs for National Cycle Route 75 eventually riding along the Water of Leith and under a bridge.
A few hundred metres after the bridge, turn right into Coburg Street then left into Dock Street.
Cross over Commercial Street into the path between the gap of buildings. At the roundabout, turn left into Victoria Quay.
At the next three-way, take the second exit onto Melrose Drive.
Take the next street right into Whiskey Quay which will lead you to the Royal Yacht Britannia.
The Royal Yacht Britannia has sailed over 1 million nautical miles (1.85 million km) since its launch in 1953. The Britannia mainly served as a place of residence for state visits, family holidays, and honeymoons for the Royal Family. This yacht is the last of 83 Royal Yachts and went on 968 state visits over the last 44 years and hosted some important political figures such as Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, and Ronald Reagan.
Today, you can take a tour aboard and see the State Apartments, Tearoom where you can have afternoon tea and sandwiches, and Below Deck to see the inner workings of this magnificent piece of history. Fun fact, all the clocks onboard are stopped at 3:01 pm which is the exact time Queen Elizabeth II was saluted on board for the last time during the Yacht’s decommissioning ceremony in 1997. You can purchase your tickets here and find out more here.
Go past the Britannia (on your left) around the marina onto Ocean Drive.
Ride over both bridges then turn right at the Victoria Swing Bridge onto the pathway along the waters on the Shore.
At the second bridge, turn left onto Tolbooth Wynd and continue onto Queen Charlotte Street which becomes Links Place then Links Gardens.
Just after Links Garden Lane, turn slightly right to continue on Links Gardens.
Turn right into the park on the pathway. Continue straight along the park, then when the paths split, turn left to go over the bridge over the main road back onto a pathway along a crematorium following the curve.
Pass the main building (around the back) to stay on the path. Turn left onto Seafield Street then left again at the small roundabout to stay on Seafield Street. At the main road, turn right onto Seafield Road.
Follow the curve on the road.
Where the path splits to the left, follow it along the beach onto Promenade Terrace and Portobello.
Portobello Beach has two miles of sand for one to enjoy at any time of day. Several of the Georgian and Victorian buildings you see are also protected within the conservation area. Within these buildings are bars and cafes that offer meals, drinks, and of course the classic beach treat- ice cream!
Continue along the Promenade then turn right into Bellfield Street, left into Portobello High Street and immediately right down St Mark’s Place.
At the end of the road at Hope Lane North, walk up and follow the stairs over and along the bridge onto Hope Lane.
Continue straight down the pathways onto Magdalene Place to turn right onto Magdalene Drive.
Turn left into Magdalene Gardens, right at the end of the road then immediately left onto the paved pathway. Turn right at the play area and continue over the main road back onto a pathway (it will be slightly to the left).
Follow the curves of the path riding along the stream, Niddrie Burn, and around the sports field. Follow the path when it eventually runs along the railway path and parts again.
Ride over Duddingston Road West, over the Innocent Railway Bridge and continue straight.
Just after the little pond, turn left, follow the curve then right at the end of the road following the curve of the road again. At the end of the road, turn left onto the cycle pathway to turn left onto Holyrood Park Road. Instead of turning left here, you can turn right to get onto Queen’s Road. A road which circles around Holyrood Park.
Holyrood Park consists of Arthur’s Seat, the remains of a volcano as its pinnacle, four Dark Age forts, and 360 views of Edinburgh. Any route you take through, up, or down the park will offer unfiltered beauty.
At the end of Holyrood Park Road, turn right onto Dalkeith Road then left onto East Preston Street.
Turn right onto Causewayside then at Summerhall, turn left towards the tree-lined path. Continue straight.
Turn right onto Middle Meadow Walkthrough The Meadows. Feel free to ride around as you please then find your way back onto Middle Meadow Walk (a tree-lined path).
The Meadows shares its beauty in every season; cherry blossom trees in spring, foggy mists in winter, lush green grass in summer, and vibrantly colourful leaves in autumn. You can even peep Arthur’s Seat from this park. You may need to cycle a little slower as The Meadows can be bustling with students and dog walkers.
At the end of the tree-lined path, continue over into Forrest Road.
Slight left onto George IV Bridge.
Follow the bend to the left in the road onto North Bank Street. Follow the curve in the road slightly to the right onto The Mound, passing Princes Street Gardens on your left, which you can enter from Princes Street if you wish.
Princes Street Gardens is beautiful in any season. With buildings of note surrounding the park, set in the foreground of Edinburgh Castle, and sitting right between Old Town and New Town, it is perhaps one of the most picturesque gardens in Edinburgh steeped in history. Look out specifically for Ross Fountain, the Gardener’s Cottage, and the floral clock (these are all part of West Princes Street Gardens).
If you enjoyed this route, see our 15km Calton Hill and Holyrood Park Cycle.