Sunday May 11 was a fantastic day for RiverLife’s first Guided Cycle. The route took our group from Ratho Marina along the Union Canal to our first stop, the Almond Aqueduct. The Almond Aqueduct, also known as Lin’s Mill Aqueduct, is one of 3 major aqueducts on the Union Canal. It was completed in 1822 and offers one of the best views available of the river Almond from 75 ft above the river. Gazing down from the impressive soaring structure you can view the Almond in all its spring glory right now, striking an impressive border between Edinburgh one side and West Lothian on the other.

Legends abound surrounding the aqueduct and the Forth & Clyde canal, making it a great route for site-cycling.  It is said that William Hare (of the famous Burke and Hare ‘body snatchers’ legend) worked on the canal alongside his wife, Lucky, who dressed as a man to be able to hold the same job as her husband.  It is also said that William Lin, who Lin’s Mill was named after, was the last man in Scotland to die of the plague in 1645.  Legend has it that no one would help bury Willaim after his death by plague, so his wife put him in a sack and buried him in the woods nearby.  Today you can see Lin’s Grave, marked by a stone slab, situated on the slopes of a steep bank overlooking Lin’s Mill. The slab is inscribed with a shield, skull and crossbones, and an inscription about Lin’s death.

Almondell and Calderwood Country Park was stop 2. Offering us the chance to highlight some of the work the project has done before in this great park, including River Rubbish awareness artwork by artist Annie Lord and some of the willow weaving earlier this year along the river. Our finale took us past some stunning yellow rapeseed fields and back along the canal to a well-earned bite to eat in Ratho after our 10 mile round trip.

Active travel is a great way to explore points of local interest and history. In 2017-2018 alone, the Scottish Government spent £80 pounds promoting active walking and cycling routes with local authorities, community groups and third sector groups.  With a commitment to spend another £80 million this year, improvements to active travel infrastructure and opportunities for active travel activities are going to increase.

RiverLife’s guided walks, guided runs and guided cycles promote active travel while also giving people the opportunity to explore their local area – local wildlife, local history and the natural heritage around them. The programme encourages people to get outdoors.  With a range of topics and activities from foraging to cycling to invasive plants to otter habitats, there is something for everyone.

Keep an eye on our facebook page for postings about these events as they become available. The RiverLife guided walk/cycle schedule usually runs between March and August with various events scheduled in between.