Running Routes From Pollock Halls of Residence

This guide is written by a marathon and cross country runner with extensive experience of training from Pollock Halls of Residence.

Holyrood Park

Map of Running Routes in Holyrood Park - click to enlarge Holyrood Park, the site of the 2008 World Cross Country Championships, is adjacent to Pollock Halls of Residence. On exiting the main gate of Pollock Halls of Residence turn right. After 100 metres one enters the park.

If you wish to run predominantly on grass and minimise hills, The Parade Ground (marked on the map) is the ideal location.

Note:There is no lighting in Holyrood Park after dark. The Meadows (see below) provides grass running options at night.

Routes - The Holyrood Park Circuit

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A road of slightly over 5km provides a basic loop of the park. Runners can choose to use the pedestrian paved walkway or, for large stretches, run alongside on the grass. Note that a circuit will include approximately 80 metres of climb totalled over the 5km.

From the Pollock entrance one descends slightly into Holyrood Park. At the first roundabout, run alongside the road that climbs slightly to a second roundabout. At the second roundabout you are at the 5km road that circles the Park. Following the route downhill, one has Salisbury Crags rising to your right. As you turn the corner at the base of the Salisbury Crags you will see Our Dynamic Earth ahead on the left. It is a vast tent-like dome structure. As you pass Our Dynamic Earth you will be able to glimse the Scottish Parliament. At this point the Crags on your left are descending so that they end near Holyrood Palace (the Queen's residence when she stays in Edinburgh).

Most of the course of the 2008 World Cross Country Championships is behind to Holyrood Palace on the flatter area of grass is known as the Parade Ground. Following the road adjacent to the Parade Ground, a small hillock on the right (call Haggis Knowe) marks the entrance to Hunters Bog, a marshy area between the crags and Arthurs Seat. Hunters Bog is the birthplace of a (in)famous Scottish running club.

Past the hillock is St Margarets Loch, home to many ducks, geese and swans. Immediately after the Loch the road to follow climbs away to the right. At this point there is the road climbs for about 80 metres in little over 1 kilometre. As the climb gradually comes to an end you come across Dunsapie Loch and with it a view of a long slope up to the summit of Arthurs Seat. Follow the road around the Loch and past the car park. At this point, the road turns to the right and for the next kilometre is flanked by a steep rock face up to the right and a steep drop over the low wall on your left! As it passes through a cutting a beautiful vista of Edinburgh Castle and the city opens out at the highest point of the circuit before the road and path descend down towards the mini roundabout, with Pollock Halls down the slope to your left.

Routes - Radical Road Option

This modification to the loop involves running on the track that runs just beneath the steep cliffs of Salisbury Crags.

Routes - Hunter's Bog Option

This modification to takes a route between the high ground of Salisbury Crags and that of Arthur's Seat. The Hause is the pass between the two areas of high ground. The better track is on the Salisbury Crags side of Hunter's Bog.

Routes - Duddingston Loch, Jacob's Ladder, Queen's Drive (~3km)

This route has very little running on grass - it is almost all paved. The route takes the lower road around the South of the park towards Duddingston Village. Along the way, on your left, you will see Samson's Ribs. These columns of basalt cooled from molten rock into hexagonal forms. A little further along the road passes through a cutting, curving to the right, then left, as it drops towards Duddingston Loch. Just before leaving the park, immediately after a park gatehouse is a set of 199 steps known as Jacob's Ladder. Climb these and when you reach the top a grass path (may be muddy) will lead back to Queen's Drive. Follow Queen's Drive using the Circular Route.

Hill Running in Holyrood Park

Holyrood Park also offers steeper running options. If venturing on the higher ground, care is needed to avoid sudden steep drops. At the highest point, Arthur's Seat, many vistors have worn the rocks smooth and treacherous . Some careful exploring may be fun - particularly with the knowledge that, if lost, on regaining the road one is never too far from Pollock Halls. The summits of Whinny Hill provide good undulating terrain

Important Note: On occasions a thick mist can envelope the park. Unless accompanied by someone with local knowledge, do not venture onto the higher ground.

The Meadows

Map showing route to Meadows - click to enlarge The Meadows is a relatively flat park to the west of Pollock Halls of Residence. It has paved paths and the options to run on grass. Once there, it is possible to do 2km loops, or smaller loops. It is popular with Edinburgh runners for interval sessions.

To reach the Meadows, one must run along streets for about 1km. Turn left when exiting Pollock Halls of Residence. At the end of Holyrood Park Road (150m) turn right. After 75 metres turn left down East Preston Street. At the cross roads with traffic lights (after 200m) continue straight on. At the second set of traffic lights, turn right at the T-Junction. After 100m the Meadows is to the left, recognisable by a large childrens play area and plenty of grass and trees. When crossing roads take care. Use pedestrian crossing lights.

The major advantage the Meadows has over Holyrood Park is that it is sufficiently well lit at night to permit training. This is particularly important as winter in Edinburgh has limited daylight hours. If you wish to join up with local runners, a large and varied group meets by the children's play area at 7.45 on Tuesday evenings.

Meadowbank Stadium

Meadowbank Stadium is the closest athletics track to Pollock Halls of Residence. The site of the 1970 and 1986 Commonwealth Games, it is a 3km warm-up jog from Pollock Halls. On leaving Pollock Halls main entrance turn right and head into Holyrood Park. Following the perimeter road along the grass at the base of Salisbury Crags all the way along past St Margarets Loch. Rather than taking the perimeter road uphill, carry straight on. As you leave the Park, again go straight on. At the traffic lights, turn left (a hairpin corner) and Meadowbank Stadium is on your right. Meadowbank Stadium is run by Edinburgh Leisure.