Neil Braidwood joins a running tour in his hometown of Edinburgh.
If you love running and are visiting a new city, doesn’t it make sense to do your sightseeing while running? That’s what Ali Wyllie, founder of Run the Sights, thought when she set the business up four years ago, and since then she’s never looked back. I joined her on a craft beer running tour – all will be explained – to see what all the fuss was about.
After meeting at Brewdog on Lothian Road at 3pm on a crisp, bright Sunday in February, Ali made all the introductions, and we were ready to get started on our run. There were four of us: Becky from Edinburgh with her flatmate Marta from Spain and Jeremy who’s originally from Cork but has been living in Edinburgh for a year.
Festival Square was our first stop, just outside Brewdog, and Ali explained that every time we stopped to look at a point of interest, she would get everyone to read out a flash card. These were meant to be icebreakers, with a question about running for the person reading the card to answer, a fact about beer and a suggested pose for a photograph that Ali would take, next to the attraction. Ali explained that the photos would serve as a memento of our run and also save us taking any pictures ourselves.
Ali gave us some historical information on Festival Square, and then turned to the huge granite spheres placed around us. Named ‘First Conundrum’, these different sized balls are a modern (giant) nod to early stone neolithic balls, that may have been used as a currency in an early Scotland. As we are near to the financial area of Edinburgh, Ali thought this may be why the piece is situated here.
It was perfect running weather – cloudless skies, but crisp and cold, so we got going on our route to warm up. I always run off road with my dog, so running in the town on pavements was a very different experience for me. Dogs are not allowed on the Run the Sights city centre runs, but we also needed to keep our wits about us, as we found ourselves chatting, so needed to be aware of traffic when crossing roads.
We ran through to Rutland Square, a sleepy elegant New Town enclave, and ran along to Palmerston Place, the location of St Mary’s Cathedral. A quick pause to catch our breath and read our next flash card, and we were off again, to the Scottish National Galleries of Modern Art. I was interested to know whether my fellow runners had visited the galleries and none had, despite living in the city for over a year. I was shocked, but I got assurances from everyone that they would visit soon. This is the beauty of the tour, that visitors can get their bearings in the city, and choose to return to the various locations to explore more.
We run through the grounds of the galleries and drop down to the Water of Leith, Edinburgh’s river that flows from the Pentlands to the Firth of Forth. We run upstream and pop out near to Murrayfield Stadium, home of Scottish Rugby. The stadium has been on this site since 1925, but now it is fully seated, and the capacity is 67,000.
From here we head back to Brewdog, stopping at Donaldson’s School for the Deaf (now a housing complex), the impressive Gladstone memorial and a traditional police box. Throughout, we have adopted crazy poses for the camera, which Ali will post to social media. You don’t have to be superfit to join in this tour – there are plenty of stops and the pace is steady.
Included in the cost of the tour are some samples of Brewdog’s finest drinks and once you’ve chosen, you can quench your thirst with your favourite. What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
For more information about Run the Sights and the running tours they offer, see www.runthesights.co.uk Use code CAP10 for a 10% discount off your first run.