A Swifty Scooter City Adventure...
Ever since buying my Swifty Air, I have wanted to do one of my day trip 'tours' on the scooter in an area outside of Greater Manchester. After doing some shortish Swifty scoots around Cornwall to St Ives and Penzance from Hayle when I was on holiday there, I realised just how much fun you can have from a different perspective on the scooter. I originally did not plan to take the Swifty to Edinburgh as I planned to ride on my road bike 100 miles from the Scottish capital to the English border city of Carlisle.
With an unusual summer storm heading right for the remote region that I was planning on riding through, I decided that being stuck on a minor A road in the Scottish Borders and getting soaked to the core would have been slightly reckless and might have caused problems in getting to Carlisle for my booked train. I decided to change my plans at the last minute and instead would do a Swifty scooter tour of Edinburgh and then catch the train to Glasgow to scoot around the redeveloped Clyde area. I would then head back to Manchester in the late evening.
Swifty Scooting around Edinburgh... I am generally not too bothered about getting up at 0430 to go on an early train from Manchester Piccadilly, however, I'll admit it was tough to get up at that time on Saturday morning after a busy week at work. I took my scooter on the train and was surprised at how little room the Swifty took up in the small bike area. It is a really compact scooter and allowed two other bikes to fit in and rest on top. Fortunately, I arrived into Edinburgh with an idea of the day's route in my head after reading a new cycling book - 'Simply more words from the saddle' by Scot Whitlock and his chapter on the city on the train.
When I arrived in the Scottish capital, I decided to leave any thoughts of scooting around the city centre at Waverley Station due to the sheer numbers of people in the city for the world-famous August 'Fringe' Festival.
The Innocent Railway Line to Musselburgh... After leaving the Royal Mile, I headed out towards the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood where I embarrassed myself by asking for some samples of Scottish cheese intended for a group of German tourists on a coach tour outside! In Scot's book, I read about the 'Innocent Railway' and decided to follow the 8-mile long and disused line to Musselburgh on the Forth Coast.
The Edinburgh to Dalkeith railway was given such a noble title because the line never suffered a serious accident at a time when fatal tragedies were common. The route is now an excellent traffic-free cycle path that starts close to Arthur's Seat in the city centre. After scooting along for a few miles, you can see a clear contrast between the Edinburgh of tourists and the 'day-to-day' buildings and post-war estates that house many of the city's residents. What the masses of international tourists do not see are gritty estates that circle the historic centre. However, after leaving the path and arriving in the harbour village of Musselburgh, I was surprised to find that Edinburgh has a beach!
I did not know that Edinburgh had a seaside resort... Between Musselburgh and Leith is a long sandy beach that was busy with Saturday morning locals running, cycling and children scooting. There were also a number of people walking dogs and just enjoying the relative quietness looking out over the Firth of Forth.
I scooted along the elegant Portobello promenade and had the distinct feeling that not many people in Edinburgh have seen an adult scooter before and especially one that can comfortably travel as fast as a bike! People seemed genuinely interested in the Swifty and I was happy to tell them all about it!
To Leith and back to Haymarket... I continued along the Portobello to Leith cycle path hugging the Edinburgh coastline towards Ocean Terminal to hopefully catch a glimpse of Britannia. However, a glimpse is all you can get as the Royal Yacht is hidden away behind the shopping centre and not visible for free!
In Leith Harbour, I did see a unique, brightly coloured 'Dazzle Ship' that was designed to confuse the enemy at sea and was in port for the festival. There were also a couple of the uniquely shaped North Sea oil ships in Leith that are more common further up the coast in ports such as Aberdeen. Instead of going back through the city centre and battling the busy Edinburgh traffic towards Hibernian F.C, I headed back to the city centre from Leith using an excellent former railway line that skirts the city centre before linking up with National Cycle Route 1 to Haymarket, Princes Street and Edinburgh Castle.
The cycle path was well signed and this seemed to be a theme in the city. In fact, Edinburgh has excellent cycle signage and commuting around without a car is easy. However, the new tram line to the Airport has caused some difficulties for cyclists and traffic sharing.
And the storm arrived as I headed to Glasgow...
The route to Haymarket was excellent and old railway lines are ideal for scooting along. However, the weather was changing and the drizzle soon turned into the predicted storm.
Luckily, the rain started to lash down as I boarded the train to Glasgow where I set off to go and explore Scotland's largest city...