An easy off-road bike route with great scenery. Dirt tracks and canal towpath.
This first section, as far as Balerno, is signed as National Cycle Network Route 75. At Tollcross in central Edinburgh start from the King's Theatre. Go up Gilmore Place opposite. Take the first right by a church to Lower Gilmore Place then join the Union Canal towpath. Cycle along this for two miles. The towpath can be busy with pedestrians on Sunday afternoons, making a start in the morning is a good idea. After two miles the towpath goes over a high aqueduct above the Water of Leith. Soon after this leave the canal by crossing a footbridge over the canal and Lanark Road (A70). Keep right, along a disused railway line by the Water of Leith. You go through a tunnel leading to Spylaw Public Park, keep straight on. The route crosses access roads a couple of times, when this happens continue in the same direction looking for the dirt path on the other side. This section ends in Balerno by the High School in Bridge Road.
Turn left on to Bridge Road (the Cycle Network goes right) then left up Bavelaw Road, signed Malleny House Garden (National Trust). Keep straight on up the hill, climbing steadily, to leave Balerno. At the top of the hill, at Red Moss Wildlife Reserve, take the left fork towards the hills. After 400m turn left at Threipmuir Car Park and go down a rough track. Pass a locked gate (use the side gate), then bear right at the next gate using the triangular detour. Continue along by the shore of Threipmuir Reservoir to the overflow sluiceway. If this is dry you can cycle along it; if not use the little iron bridge. Bear left after the sluice to continue along a straight track, Harlaw Reservoir on the right. When you reach the dam at the far end of Harlaw Reservoir, cross it.
Leave Harlaw Reservoir by bearing left, past a red sandstone cottage. After 300m bear left on to the public road. When you see the sign 'Public Path to Glencorse', go in the opposite direction. Turn right at the next T Junction, by electricity pylons. There is a slight descent with a view of the Forth Estuary, an S bend at Wester Kinleith, then a gently climb followed by a view of the city. Bear right at a white house, just before a steep descent to Currie, to continue in the same direction to Easter Kinleith. After 500m you cross a burn on a stone bridge, then find yourself in a farmyard. Turn sharp right, reversing direction on to a rough track. This passes a Pentland Hills Park notice board, 'East Kinleith', then turns east again to Cubbiedean Reservoir. Follow the main path past Cubbiedean Reservoir. This turns right at the far end by a cottage then descends steeply to Torduff Reservoir. A footpath marked no bikes please leads up towards Bonaly. Ignore this footpath and bear left to go round the west side of Torduff Reservoir.
After Torduff there is a steep descent to Torduff Road. Turn left to cross over the City Bypass. After this keep straight on down Bonaly Road, passing modern houses, and turn right at the T junction at the foot on to Woodhall Road (opposite West Colinton House). After 300m, turn left down a footpath. This is opposite a white house with black timbers. Walk down steps, then turn left down more steps just before the bridge carrying the public road. When you are on the same level as the Water of Leith, cross the river on a footbridge. After crossing, a Water of Leith Walkway sign indicates you should turn right to return to the city. This however leads to footsteps. Avoid these by turning left past the big house, then turning right towards the path.
Returning to Tollcross after this is on the same route you came out on. Keep to the main railway path track as far as the Union Canal, then turn right (east). Because of the layout of the bridge footpath, this right turn when you meet the canal is actually a double left turn.
The end of the canal and Tollcross is two miles further north-east. At the end of the canal towpath, cross the canal then turn left down Lower Gilmore Place, then left to Gilmore Place to return to the King's Theatre.
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