Local Sky Ride – Hopetoun House – and growing up a bit?

British Cycling Logo

Ok ok – I’ll admit it – I’ve gone and done the decent thing and subscribed to British Cycling.

Kind of putting my money where my mouth is, sort of thing.

Oh! –  and I’ve also registered on the Sky Ride Web page thingy too…….

Sky ride logo


Well anything that helps bring cyclists together for good local cycle rides and also helps promote a positive image of cycling as a sport and a lifestyle choice for commuting or transport has to be a good thing right?

And therefore…it  deserves my support…..for what its worth.

In for a penny ..in for a pound ….well £24 actually.  One for all and all for one or something….

Yes I’ll be joining the CTC at some point too. And may be Spokes …..someone mentioned Cycling Edinburgh too. Where do you draw the line?

I guess I should grow up a bit as a cyclist and see what these organisations do.

And also see if there’s anything out there that I can actually help with in whatever capacity I can offer…..Hmm  there’s a thought eh?

I have been kind of content to just cycle around, enjoying cycling, observing this, complaining about that but without really offering to get involved ….

Let’s leave that thought stuck to the wall for abit and come back to it at some point shall we?

thought bubble

Sky rides have been going like  a fair across in Glasgow for some time now and seem to have taken off….Edinburgh – with its extensive network of cycle routes has not had them until the inaugural sky ride event that I blogged about earlier.

So now there here what do they do?

Well basically, British Cycling – with the sponsorship of Sky, have started organising local rides for people of all age ranges and abilities.

The basic aim is to encourage those who haven’t really cycled before to get into cycling …

Or to encourage those who do cycle to keep cycling, by getting them out on their bike more…. That’s cool.

So here’s me dawdling about the Sky Ride web page to see what’s on offer – and I see that they offer different grades of ride for different cycling abilities – and even put down what the average mph of what the expected cycling group is likely to be – just to give folks an idea.

Good idea. Now I vary between 9-12mph about town to about 16-18mph on the open road (20-27mph if I’m feeling frisky!).

I’m going to be free Sunday morning – so I sign up for the “Sky Ride Local – Hopetoun House” ride – which is about 27 miles in length. Great!

Sunday Morning Local Sky Ride

Sunday morning – after an EXTRA HOUR in bed with the clocks change – I’m up and doing about 8am.

Out the door 9am heading through the city centre with my long cycling leggings on for the first time this year as it looked slightly dreich.

By 9.50AM I’m standing in the Morrisons car park in Granton feeling like I’m on a blind date looking for the proverbial person wearing a rose in their lapel.

A guy in a cycling reflective vest turns up – his name is Mark and he’s one of the leaders for the trip. Mark works for Edinburgh Council in a role that sees him liaising with schools and with Sustrans regarding the devlopment of cycling skills and pathways in and around Edinburgh.

edinburgh city council

He’s also a mine of information about Sustrans, CyclingEdinburgh, Cycle Scotland, etc.

Another guy rocks up in a car – he’s called Graeme and he’s the other leader for the trip.

He’s come all the way in from out of town – hence the car.

After waiting a little bit to see if anyone turns up ( no-one does) we head off.

Heres a wee summary of the route we took and relevant information . Scroll down for my written description below.

You can see the Garmin map and get a 3d visualisation of the route and information at my Garmin website.




Garmin mapping of the Hopetoun House Skyride



So how did the ride go???


Firth of Forth Shoreline

Heading down onto the Firth of Forth shoreline we cycle along the shoreline towards Cramond, catching glimpses of the refinary at Mossmorran, the Forth Road Bridge and the Forth Rail Bridge too. It really is one of the most striking scenes anywhere in the world.

Rail Bridge – The vast Forth Railway Bridge in South Queensferry stands 150ft/45m above the water and extends for 2,756yd/2,529m. The engineer Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker collaborated on its design and it was completed in the 1880s.

Road Bridge – The delicately engineered Forth Road Bridge in South Queensferry was opened in 1964. With a span width of 1,977yd/1,814m it is one of the longest suspension bridges in Europe.


We cycled past Cramond Island , which is linked to the mainland by a small footpath causeway which is tidal.

The island, a mile from the shore and a third of a mile long, contains the ruins of second world war fortifications including gun and searchlight emplacements, barracks and an ammunition store.

In 1882-4, Frances Groome’s Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland described Cramond Bridge like this:

Cramond Bridge, a hamlet in Cramond parish, at the boundary between Edinburgh and Linlithgow shires, on the river Almond, and on the Queensferry highroad, 5 miles WNW of Edinburgh, and 1¼ mile SSW of Cramond village. It has a post office under Cramond, a good inn, and an eight-arched bridge, erected in 1823.

“South Queensferry, also called Queensferry, is a former Royal Burgh in West Lothian now part of the City of EdinburghScotland. It is located some ten miles to the north west of the city centre, on the shore of the Firth of Forth between theForth Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge, approximately 8 miles (13 km) from Edinburgh Airport. Queensferry is referred to as South Queensferry in order to distinguish it from North Queensferry. It has a population of around 12,000.

There were ferries at South Queensferry until 1964 when the Forth Road Bridge was opened. Ferry services continue to run from the harbour to the islands within the Firth of Forth, including Inchcolm.”


In 1984 Rosyth was chosen as the sole location for refitting the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarine fleet (a role it was already specialising in), and in 1986 extensive rebuilding commenced to facilitate this new role. However in 1993, the government switched the refitting role to Devonport Dockyard.

Right now they’re refitting an aircraft carrier.

Hopetoun House

We push along the shore road until we come to the gates of  Hopetoun House, cut through the grounds and up onto a side road that takes you along the south side of the grounds. There was a tricky turnstile bit to get through about halfway along to ensure that the grazing sheep don’t run amok amongst the planted gardens to the front of the house.

Dating back to 1699, Hopetoun House is a striking Baroque style mansion. On display inside the house is an extensive display of porcelain from the early 19th century.

Hopetoun House is the traditional residence of the Earl of Hopetoun (later the Marquess of Linlithgow). Located near South Queensferry to the west of EdinburghScotland, it was built 1699-1701 and designed byWilliam Bruce. The House was then hugely extended from 1721 by William Adam until his death in 1748 being one of his most notable projects. The interior was completed by his sons John Adam and Robert Adam. The magnificent entrance hall dates from 1752.

The parklands in which it lies were laid out in 1725, also by William Adam. The east front centres on the distant isle of Inchgarvie and North Berwick Law. The walled garden dates from the late 18th century. In the grounds an 18th century mound was excavated in 1963 to reveal the remains of the earlier manor house, Abercorn Castle, dating from the 15th century. (Wikipedia)


Cycling around the south of the grounds of Hopetoun House, we circled back uphill to the A904 near the New Hopetoun Gardens Garden Centre. We crossed the A904 cycled under the M9 over the railway line and up to the B9080. Heading west, we cycled through Winchburgh and Kirkliston towards Craigiehall, where we stopped for a well earned rest , soup and coffee at Craigie’s Farm.

Mark and Graeme are great cycling buddies – chatting away through out the ride we talk about cycling general, technical bits and bobs, good lights for bikes, how often they cycle, how they got into leading rides for the Sky ride etc. Kids, Family. General stuff. It was all good – and the ride was made all the better for the company and the chat.

Graeme had clocked that I had a reasonably good level of equipment and bike skills and encouraged me to think  about getting involved…. Thanks Graeme !!

Mark had to shoot off from Craigies Farm to meet up with family, so Graeme and I cycled on through Cramond and back to the start point.

Overall then – it was a good ride – not too difficult. There was some hills to climb but it was all done at an easy pace and Mark and Graeme were keeping a watchful eye on pace and at junctions. We speeded up a bit once we got up onto the B9080, but I think this was just because it was reasonably flat and we were heading towards a cup of coffee and something to eat!

So the Sky Ride – Strong Ride settles comfortably into the void between commuting cycling or pottering around town and the dedicated club cyclist level.

Ideal then for people with bike skills, looking to stretch their legs but not wanting to commit to a regular club commitment or do really long sportive type runs.

Conclusion? – Recommended…

Related articles


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s