Rugged Run – East Lothian Beach Marathon (Iain)

John Muir was one of America’s most famous and influential ‘Outdoor Enthusiasts’ – although he described himself (in a ltter to a friend) as a “poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist etc. etc.” Which must be annoying to write when he was filling in the job title section of application forms.

The John Muir Way is a 130 mile walking/biking route that stretches from his birthplace of Dunbar to where he left Scotland to head to America – Helensburgh. That is too far to run in one day but whilst looking at the route I noticed the section from Edinburgh to East Lothian is almost marathon distance if I went via as many beaches as possible.

I planned to start in in North Berwick and then get the train to Edinburgh but due to heavy traffic on the Edinburgh bypass it looked like I was going to miss the train. I drove to Longniddry instead and caught the train I should have got from North Berwick.

This complicated my run slightly as there is only one train an hour from North Berwick to Longniddry. I’d have to keep an eye on the time so that at the end of my run I didn’t miss a train and then have a long wait.

The first section of the route was from Waverly Station to Portobello beach.I used to live near the route so it was interesting to see places I used to visit – look there’s the Safeway I got my shopping in, look there’s that weird that always had scary people outside it, and look there’s that gym owned by a personal trainer to Hollywood celebrities’.

I was at the opening night of that Gym. I remember the personal trainer thanking everyone for coming. He asked his girlfriend to stand with him. He then he burst into tears as he blubbed about how much he loved her, how she had changed his life and how he’d do anything for her. She was really embarrassed at his speech and so was most of the audience. A couple of year later, I saw him on the front page of a tabloid paper. It turned out he wasn’t a nice man!

The first beach was Portobello beach or Puerto Bello Beach. Which I saw written in Graffiti on a wall next to the beach. I like the Spanish vibe of the name. It seems fitting when the weather is nice and the beach is full of happy people but maybe it is not so appropriate in the depths of winter.

The route from here to Gullane is very easy. Follow the John Muir way signs. I enjoyed this sections as I wasn’t very familiar with the towns of Musselburgh, Port Seaton and Cockenzie. They all had nice seas fronts to run along.

In Gullane I decided to ignore the John Muir Way. The official route goes south of the town but I wanted to go to the beach. It was definitely the correct decision. The coastal section here was my favorite part of the run. There was big sandy beaches and nice trail running.

Gullane was a good spot to pick up refreshments. I got chocolate and water from the local CO-OP.

I rejoined the John Muir Way as I left Gullane. I wanted to head to Yellowcraigs beach but I was conscious of time. The detour to the beach would mean I’d miss the next train from North Berwick to Longniddry and then I’d have a long wait.

I decided to head straight for the train. I’d see enough beaches for one day!

Check out the video below to see what the rote is like. I was running by myself so it’s mostly shots I could film quick and easily as I didn’t want to add too much time onto the run.

VIDEO

MAPS

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An interesting route but the road section might put people off doing it. If so you could start at the forest entrance instead

Parking

Rating: 3 out of 5.

North Berwick can be very busy so get there early to find a spot.

Facilities

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Plenty of cafes and shops on the route.

Nearest cafe

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Plenty of cafes and shops on the route.

Run Surface

20% road, 50% path. 30% off road.

Dog Friendly

Yes it is possible but I wouldn’t recommend the distance for a dog. I would only take my dogs on a shorter stretch of the route.

Elevation

344M of elevation.

Rugged Run – Lews Castle Grounds (Iain)

Sir James Matheson bought the Isle of Lewis for £190,000 in 1844. Yes – the whole island.

This was a lot of money back then. I wish I could say he earnt it legitimately but he earned his money through the sale of opium. He was a drug baron like Pablo Escobar but without all the murder and cocaine. Maybe not all drug barons are bad but I’ve seen a lot of Narco’s episodes on Netflix. It doesn’t paint drug barons in a good light.

Matheson did not immediately endear himself to locals. According to Stornoway Historical Society, the creation of the castle grounds involved the clearance of tenants and the re-routing of public roads. But over the next three decades, he spent a further £200,000 on island improvements such as roads, schools and harbours in an attempt to kickstart the island economy. So, maybe he wasn’t all bad.

The castle took six years to complete but the surrounding land took even longer. He imported trees to turn the area into extensive woodland. The area is now a great place for walking and running. The grounds are accessible to anyone courtesy of Lord Leverhulme. He bought the Isle of Lewis from Matheson. He had many ambitious plans, some of which were followed through, but most collapsed. He only owned the island for a few years before he gifted the Castle and grounds to the people of Stornoway.

The castle was closed for many years due to disrepair but in recent years it has been renovated and is now a popular hotel https://www.lews-castle.co.uk/

VIDEO

MAPS

https://www.strava.com/routes/2818817373164312010

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I have to rate it highly. Its my home running/biking/walking place and full of wonderful memories and experiences.

Parking

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There are a few entrances and car parks and I’ve never had any issues using them

Facilities

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There is a Cafe in the castle and in the castle grounds. https://www.facebook.com/TheWoodlandsCafe/

Run Surface

100% fire track gravel roads

Dog Friendly

Yes

Elevation

100M of elevation.

Rugged Run – The Seven Hills Of Edinburgh? (Iain)

I’ve previously written about the Seven Hills Race held annually in Edinburgh here. It is a great race and I recommend it however I didn’t realize just how hilly Edinburgh was until I ran all the hills in one go.

To celebrate the first day of the end of the travel ban in Scotland, I decided to avoid the countryside hills where I thought everyone would go. Instead, I treated myself to a trip to Edinburgh. My friend Fiona Outdoors (https://www.fionaoutdoors.co.uk/) had never done the route. She decided to join me. She was relying on me for directions.

I thought the route was 14 miles and seven hills. We ended up doing 18 miles and 8 hills! Next time she won’t rely on me for directions.

You might ask, how is it possible to run eight hills in a seven hill race? Well, it was because one of the hills is actually two summits. The race only goes over one summit. We went over both. I’d argue that it is quite clearly two hills not one but I’m not a geologist. I presume there is a proper explanation for why it’s not two hills so I googled it and got:

“The two summits of Craiglockhart Hill form a prominent landmark which has resulted from the fact that the igneous rock is more resistant to erosion than the surrounding sedimentary rock. The recent ice sheet in particular has helped to mould the present landscape. The igneous rock consists of lava flows and ash layers giving the appearance of bedding which dips towards the west. A short walk to the summit rewards you with breathtaking views of Edinburgh while the southern slopes offer recreation in the form of golf. The local nature reserve is frequently used by the community and has also achieved status as a Biological Site of Special Scientific Interest. The valley between East and West Craiglockhart is probably a glacial meltwater channel.”

https://www.edinburghgeolsoc.org/geological-site/craiglockhart-hill/

I’m not sure that answers the question but it was the best I could find.

Check out the map below to see the route we took. There is a link to the Strava route page.

The video does not do justice to how warm the day was or how steep some the hills are.

VIDEO

MAPS

https://www.strava.com/routes/2818211007306029450

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A great way to see Edinburgh but there are some long slogs on pavement. Castle hill via Cortstophine hill to Craiglokhart is particularly urban.

Parking

Rating: 1 out of 5.

We took the train. Parking or drving in Edinburgh can be a nightmare.

Facilities

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Lots of cafes, shops, toilets on route.

Nearest cafe

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thre are many cafe’s on the route.

Run Surface

50% concrete. 50% trail

Dog Friendly

It could be done but mostly on a lead.

Elevation

841M of elevation.

Rugged Run – Meikle Bin from Clachan of Campsie

Should I run when injured? A doctor will say “definitely not” but I say “how injured am I?”

Like all runners I tend to ignore aches and pains by telling myself, “I’ll run it off.”

The day before this run I slipped and injured my back. I didn’t feel sore at the time. I was actually quite impressed by the quality of my fall to the ground. I managed to hold onto my phone all the way down. Even Tom Dailly the Olympic diver wouldn’t have fallen as gracefully.

I felt fine to start the run but during it I got sore twinges in my lower back so I did what any runner would do. I ignored them and hoped it would get better. It didn’t. By that evening I could barely walk as every movement sent a sharp paint through my back.

The next morning it took me 20 minutes to get up out of bed as I couldn’t twist without pain. I’d move a little bit of myself and then wait until the pain went away before trying again.

I had to get my wife to put my socks on me because I couldn’t bend over. Trouble getting up, scared to fall over and requiring a career – it was a good lesson in what old age will fell like to me.

Thankfully I feel better today but whilst watching the video below remember that I suffered for my art.

I previously wrote about Meikle Bin here. This is similar but it adds on some extra climbing by starting at the base of the Campsie Hills in Clachan of Campsie.

Check out the video to see the route.

VIDEO

MAPS

Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

An interesting route but the road section might put people off doing it. If so you could start at the forest entrance instead

Parking

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Clachan of Campsie can be very busy

Facilities

Rating: 1 out of 5.

None on the route

Nearest cafe

Rating: 3 out of 5.

There is a cafe and in Clachan Of Campsie

Run Surface

20% road, 50% path. 30% off road.

Dog Friendly

Yes as long as you go back the same way you came.

Elevation

635M of elevation.

Rugged Run – Earl’s Seat Via Finglen (Iain)

I’ve previously written about Earl’s seat here https://twinbikerun.com/2021/01/05/rugged-run-earls-seat/

This time I wanted to try to get to the top via finglen. I thought if I followed the river for as long as possible then I’d be able to jump across to the once the sides of the glen became less steep.

I was correct 🙂

The walk up the river was surprisingly easy but it was a bit of a slog across the moor at the end.

Check out the vide to see the full details.

VIDEO

MAPS

https://www.strava.com/routes/2800766251958271880

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Quiet but can be slog if the ground is bad.

Parking

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Plenty of parking in Clachan if you get there early but it can get busy later in the day.

Facilities

Rating: 1 out of 5.

None on the route

Nearest cafe

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There is a cafe at the start and end of the run.

Run Surface

80% moor/grass. 20% off road (through trees)

Dog Friendly

It depends on the route you choose to go down but I normally don’t take my dog’s just in case there is sheep.

Elevation

542M of elevation.

Rugged Run – Earls Seat From Clachan Of Campsie (Iain)

There is more than one way up to Earls Seat. It is commonly tackled from Dumgoyne but I wanted to challenge myself and see if it was possible to get to Earls Seat by following the Finglen River from Clachan of Campsie. It was easier than I thought but I only recommend it if you are comfortable navigating with no paths around.

Check out the video to see the route.

VIDEO

MAPS

https://www.strava.com/routes/2800766251958271880

Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

An interesting route but probably not a good way for most people as its pretty rough.

Parking

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Clachan of Campsie can be very busy

Facilities

Rating: 1 out of 5.

None on the route

Nearest cafe

Rating: 3 out of 5.

There is a cafe and in Clachan Of Campsie

Run Surface

40% path. 60% off road.

Dog Friendly

Yes as long as you go back the same way you came.

Elevation

542M of elevation.

Rugged Run – Dunglass (Iain)

Early last year, I come home to discover a herd of cows had rampaged through my garden. A local farm had left a gate open and their cows had escaped. The cows came down the road from the farm, passing lots of other houses, and took a fancy to my place. They all ran in and caused a big mess!

My wife was working at home that day and she didn’t notice the cows were in the garden. Although, she did wonder why their was a lot of noise coming from the garden.

If she had noticed then she wouldn’t have gone out to investigate. She has a fear of cows. Which I think is stange. How can you be scared of something as laid back as a cow? But the very next day there was a headline in a newpaper that read “MAN DIES IN COW ATTACK!” and ever since then I’ve seen lots of similar headlines.

A recent story on the BBC

Maybe, I should be wary after all!

Dunglass is a volcanic plug. Which is a rocky formation formed by a volcano. The most famous examples of them in Scotland are both in Edinburgh – the land Edinburgh Castle sits on and Arthur’s Seat. There are a few more which you can read about here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Volcanic_plugs_of_Scotland

Dunglass is an excellent viewpoint which is next to the John Muir Way. Just a short scramble provides a good vantage point overlooking the route as it heads towards Kirkintilloch.

You can get to it from either Lennoxtown or Strathblane. Just walk along the John Muir way. You won’t miss it!

Any why was I talking about cows? Dunglass is in a field which normally has cows in it so be careful and give them plenty of space.

If you don’t bother them. They won’t bother you.

VIDEO

MAPS

https://www.strava.com/routes/2797875057064053872

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Amazing view for very little effort

Parking

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There is plenty of parking in either Strathblane or Lennoxtown

Facilities

Rating: 1 out of 5.

None on the route

Nearest cafe

Rating: 3 out of 5.

There are cafe’s and a supermarket in Lennoxtown.

Run Surface

90% concrete path. 10% off road.

Dog Friendly

90% yes but there are cows in the field were Dunglass sits.

Elevation

59M of elevation.

Rugged Run: Antonine Trail Race 10K (Iain)

This run follows the race route of the Antonine Trail 10K (https://antoninetrailrace.com/). The route passes by Antonine’s Wall. This was the furthest the Romans made it into Scotland. It is also referenced in the book World War Z which is about a zombie apocalypse. The wall was the last line of defence in Great Britain against zombies! I’ve done the route a few times and I’ve not seen any Romans or Zombies…yet.

The route for the race starts in Croy but I live near Twechar so I normally do it from there instead. I will describe it as if its the race route.

Start at the Roman Shield. It’s on the grass bank next to the car wash.

If that is the size of a Roman Shield then the soldier must have been huge!

Head down the hill towards the canal. Keep an eye out for a Shrine to the Virgin Mary. it was built around a natural spring in the mid 1970s by local residents.

Follow the path onto Croy Hill. I’ve heard other runners call it Mt Cookie but I’ve never found an explanation for why. Please get in touch if you know why.

There’s a few trees on top.

Head down off the hill and cross the road. Follow the path past the fields until you reach the forrest. Stay on the path. Don;t head right up onto Barr Hill. That is the way back.

Eventually you will head downhill through the Forrest.

Run Forrest Run

The run comes out in Twecher. A local told me “only Feckers come from Twecher.” I assume he had a bad expereience there! It seems allright to me.

Follow the road until you spot a turnoff to the right signposted Barrhill Fort.

The roman ruins at the top is what I call “a maybe place.” It is somewhere where all the signs says maybe as in “maybe this was where the soldiers slept” or “maybe this was one of several out buildings” I’d rather the historians just made stuff up as they obviously don’t know. Just write “maybe this was the en-suite bathroom” or “maybe this was the snooker room”

From the ruin keep left and head up to the trig point for a great view of the campsies. Head off the trig point down back to the sheep fields. Just before you get to the main road keep an eye out for a left turn. This will take you down to the marina. From here head back up to the top.

VIDEO

MAPS

https://www.strava.com/routes/2795962413585161278

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

One of my favorite local routes due to the amazing views and the challenging course.

Parking

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There are plenty of places to park nearby.

Facilities

Rating: 3 out of 5.

None on the route but as it is a figure of eight I can get anything I need from my car when I pass by it.

Nearest cafe

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There is a cafe at the marina.

Run Surface

60% track, 40% off road

Dog Friendly

Yes but your dog will need to be on a lead at certain points due to the presence of sheep and cows.

Elevation

255M of elevation.

Rating: 10/10

An excellent route. Varied terrain, challenging hills and great views. What more could you ask for?

Rugged Run – Campsie Circular (Iain)

My ideal running route would start at my house and envolve a hill with a nice view that I can get to the top of before getting back in time for lunch.

Luckily, I live next to such a route but I’ve creatred the route so that it starts in Clachan of Campsie at the car park. If I marked the start as my house you would all be popping in to demand to use my loo or have a cup of coffee!

The route can be run in either direction but anti-clockwise is my preferred way as I can start with a nice flat run to warm up before tackling the hill. It’s then mostly downhill from the top with great views down the valley towards Strathblane.

I’ve run it in all weathers. I’ll admit this was one of the harder days. When I left the house the weather was sunny and the sky was blue but by the time I got to the top it was cold, snowy and I couldn’t see a thing.

Check out the video to see what I mean.

VIDEO

MAPS

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My favorite local route as I can run it from my house and be back in time for lunch!

Parking

Rating: 3 out of 5.

There is car parking in Clachan of Campsie but it can get very busy on a nice day.

Facilities

Rating: 1 out of 5.

None on the route

Nearest cafe

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There is a cafe in Clachan of campsie

Run Surface

60% track, 40% off road

Dog Friendly

Yes but your dog will need to be on a lead when running near the farm before climbing up the hill towards cort ma law.

Elevation

519M of elevation.

Rugged Run – Meikle Bin (Iain)

Meikle comes from the Middle Scottish word “meikle,” “meikle” and “mekill” which meant “great,” or “large. Bin comes from Dusty Bin the star of 1980’s quiz show 3-2-1. Which makes this the only hill in Scotland dedicated to this great icon of our times. NOTE TO SELF: I should learn Gaelic so I can give more accurate explanations.

Ted Rogers - Dusty Bin by Agnes Guano
Yes this was a an actual TV show!

The common route up Meikle Bin is to go from Todholes car park in Carron Valley. I prefer this way which is much off track and a bit more adventurous.

Park at Lecket hill. Run down the road and then follow the path through the forest. Turn right when you come to the only fork in the road. The path will end in a clearing. You want to go diagonally left and through the gap in the trees. Check the ground near here and you should see other footprints and mountain bike tracks from previous travelers.

The ground here is very muddy so I normally walk into the forest on the right hand side and head down between the first and second row of trees where its much drier.

After a few hundred meters it will open up into a valley. Head across the river and follow the fence line. It will lead you to a firetrack path. Turn left and you will see the sign for Meikle bin.

Once you reach the summit head for the trees in the distance. There is a clear track to follow. Head into the forrest and keep following the track. It will open into a clearing. Head straight across and up through the trees. You will eventually reach a fence.

Jump over the fence. Turn right and follow it until it comes to a corner. At this point you’re on your own 🙂 I’v enot found a clear way to lecket hill so please comment below if you have one. I normally turn and head in its general direction and then keep an eye on my mobile phone app (https://maps.me/) so I don’t go too far off course.

Once you reach the hill there is a clear path all the way back to the car.

VIDEO

MAPS

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Amazing winter conditions for a tough but beautiful route.

Parking

Rating: 3 out of 5.

There is a small car park at the bottom of Lecket hill

Facilities

Rating: 1 out of 5.

None on the route

Nearest cafe

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There are cafe’s and a supermarket in Lennoxtown.

Run Surface

40% track, 40% off road, 20% very off road!

Dog Friendly

Yes but keep an eye out for sheep when near Lecket hill as the wander the top of the Campsies.

Elevation

500M of elevation.