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by Ali Wyllie, Run the Sights.
We all live life to different paces, if you are anything like me then you will squeeze so much into your life that people will question whether there are 2 of you. This can sometimes be exhausting and I need to learn to slow down. But this is also why I like to multi-task and combine my passions.
I love to travel and explore and I love to run. Very often people sacrifice their running when they are on holiday as they feel obligated to do other touristy things with their family or other life pressures may get in the way.
This is the exact premise behind Run the Sights. We provide guided running tours throughout Scotland based in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee. Our running tours are fun and friendly and allow runners the perfect opportunity to see the sights and keep fit at the same time. We are really excited to collaborate with Active Root, every runner who participates in one of our running tours, gets a sachet of Active Root. There may or may not have been occasions when Active Root has been added into prosecco and gin and tonics at the end of a running tour.
In a city like Edinburgh, there is so much to see and do, which can initially be overwhelming. Tourists very often join us on a running tour at the start of their adventure in a new city, to allow them to get their bearings and help shape their schedule for the rest of their stay. We also attract locals (particularly on our prosecco and gin running tours) who love finding hidden treasures in their own city.
I have my absolutely favourite places to take locals and tourists alike, on our running tours and I simply love seeing their reaction to their surroundings or to hearing the stories of the places or features we stop at. In no particular order 5 of my favourite places to visit during a running tour are:
The views from the top of Calton Hill across the city and Firth of Forth are simply stunning. I particularly love being up here before the rest of the city has woken. It is home to a handful of fascinating buildings, my personal favourites being the National Monument of Scotland and Nelson Monument. I love that the National Monument of Scotland was once such an embarrassment to the people of Edinburgh and is now an emblem of Edinburgh. It just goes to show how attitudes can change and minds can be opened – more of that please. I feel a personal connection to Nelson Monument as it was designed and erected to commemorate Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson’s victory in the Panorama of Trafalgar. My Great Great Grandfather W L Wyllie, painted the Panorama of Trafalgar, on display in The National Museum Royal Navy, Portsmouth.
*Calton Hill is aptly nicknamed the “Athens of the North” due to the (half finished) National Monument built to resemble the ancient Greek acropolis.
Edinburgh is not a particularly busy city, but it’s still great to escape and enjoy some tranquillity along the Water of Leith. It’s a super place to go and relax, breath in the fresh air, listen to the flowing water and play spot the heron. I often run the section between Stockbridge and Roseburn, taking in St Bernard Well and what I call “The Hungry Tree”. It is hard to believe that you are just a stone throw away from the city centre.
The Old Town in Edinburgh is so rich in history but it also has a very dark side to it as well. I love running up and down the closes off the Royal Mile and guiding running tours in and out and up and down. Many of the closes are narrow and dark and really quite dingy, but right at the bottom is the most magnificent of the closes – White Horse Close is striking! It’s bright and airy, with enough room to turn a horse and cart (handy that). If you look closely you can see the date 1623 on the wall. This is also the birth place of William Dick – the founder of the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies.
What better way to escape the city than by venturing into the 650 acre city park? The path up to Arthur Seat in Holyrood Park is a very popular tourist trail, but all too often people forget to stop off at St Anthony’s Chapel, focused only on their end goal. What a waste!
This chapel is striking! The exact date of it’s creation is unknown but it’s believed to be 11th century. It is set into the hillside, overlooking Holyrood Palace and the Abbey. It’s definitely worth stopping off at on your way up to Arthur Seat.
I am a massive dog fan! I love the story of Greyfriars Bobby, he is a legend in his own right, but Bum the dog has a wonderful story and represents a character who has survived and thrived against all odds. After San Diego and Edinburgh became twinned cities, similarities between Bobby and Bum were drawn and this statue of Bum was gifted to Edinburgh. He is placed in the west of Princes Street Gardens, just off the King Stables Road entrance. For those with filthy minds like myself – isn’t it funny that our 2 dog statues are called Bum and Bobby (chortle chortle). I get a really energy boost running past Bum patting him on the head.
These are just 5 of my top places to guide people past on a running tour. We are so lucky in Edinburgh, we are spoilt for choice for things to see and do both of a cultural/artistic nature or with a more active/adventurous element.
Edinburgh has hills – lots of them, so don’t forget to hydrate well – Active Root has just the solution for that!