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RSPB Edinburgh Swift Cities Self-led Cycle Path For Swift Awareness Week 2021.

Welcome to RSPB Edinburgh Swift Cities Project funded by ScottishPower Foundation.

The project aims to protect and enhance the local swift population through conservation and community engagement.

Despite evolving 60 million years ago this fascinating bird is seriously under threat. Numbers have declined 58% between 1995-2018.

You can read more about the Edinburgh Swift Cities Project here and about the wonderful wee creature we are protecting here.

Swifts are 15 inches in wingspan and 7 inches nose to tail
Self led cycle and walking paths will run through out the city for International Swift Awareness Week 3rd – 11th July 2021. All routes will be signposted during this time – but take a map/directions with you too.
There are four cycle routes & two walking routes that link up swift murals, spots to do a swift survey, swift hubs & swift streets.

Swift Murals are completed by Natasha Russell (Leith Links), Ross MacRea / North Edinburgh Arts Youth Group (Muirhouse), Colony of Artists (Abbeyhill) and Chris Rutterfield (Colinton Tunnel & Bruntsfield Links).

Swift surveys will be recorded using Swift Mapper (only for nesting swifts or swifts flying less than 50m in groups, screaming). For more details please read here.

Swift hubs are buildings with swift nest boxes on them.

Swift streets are whole streets where multiple buildings have swifts nests & the area is pesticide free and has an abundance of native wildflowers & insects (swifts food source).

See summary video of cycle routes here.

Join in and help us spread the word by taking a cycle/walking selfie and sharing on your social media with this webpage and #swiftsighted 🙂

Map to show various points of interest for the Swift Cites self led cycle and walking path

Bring with you

  • Charged smart phone with maps uploaded on Map My Ride (free to use) or by typing the postcode into google maps.
  • Alternatively you can write down the route information on paper and follow the signs.
  • DO NOT RELY SOLEY ON SIGNS. They are only in places we could get permission for. They do not indicate direction & may be damaged in areas. They act as guides to confirm you are going the right way rather than directions.
  • Charged camera or smart phone for Swift cycle selfie! Share on social media #swiftsighted to let people know what you are up to.
  • Families: Bring the Wild Challenge Swift Pack with you! Download below. Sign up for wild challenge here.
  • Youth/adults: Bring a well being activities pack with you as below.

Cycle & Walking Path Summaries

  • Migration Route – 26miles/40 km – high fitness – high level of road cycling/navigation – Follow this rural route, along the swift filled canal to Ratho and Balerno Swift Streets, passing gorgeous green fields and coming back through the wild and wonderful Water of Leith. See if you can spot any swifts amongst the Colinton Tunnel Mural.
  • The Swift18miles/30km – moderate fitness – moderate amount of road cycling/navigation – This route has the best seascapes and green spaces Edinburgh has to offer, joining up seven swift community hubs, three fantastic murals & several swift feeding spots. You’ll be sure to see the swifts swop along the eaves on this route!
  • Bike Beak – 14miles/23km – moderate fitness – moderate amount of road cycling/navigation – Sea views and swift sights, this route is shorter but no less super. It links up three swift community hubs, two murals & a few feeding spots.
  • On the wing – 13miles/21km – moderate fitness – moderate amount of road cycling/navigation – This route flies through Edinburgh’s fantastic green spaces, linking up the Water of Leith, Leith Links, Lochend, Arthur’s Seat, the canal & the Meadows. Take your time to enjoy them on a summer’s eve.
  • Arthurs Seat – Family friendly – 4 miles/6km – low fitness required – no road cycling/navigation – Arthurs Seat is closed to traffic on weekends. Here you can spend the whole day slowly walking/cycling around arthur’s seat, or you can run it in less than one hour. You will see swifts feeding above the lochs, nest boxes on Dynamic Earth & a swift street in Meadowbank and artwork by Duddingston Primary School, Edinburgh Swift Local Group & member of the public.
  • Leith Links – Family friendly – 1 mile/1.6km – low fitness required – no road cycling/navigation – A short and flat route of one mile. Now imagine going that distance 17,000 times! That’s the distance of the swifts migration route to The Congo and back to Edinburgh, without landing for nine months. Phew! This route contains the main mural and there are often swifts seen above the links at dusk and dawn.
Each route is mapped using the free website Map My Ride. You can use this or type in each location listed by address on google maps.

Cycle Routes

#1 route – migration

#1 Migration Route (50 km) click here to see map, or type in each new site as below

Haymarket – Canal – Harrison Park – Calder Community Woodland – Ratho – Balerno – Colinton Tunnel – Haymarket

  • Haymarket Train Station EH12 5EY
  • St Mary’s Cathedral Swift Hub hosting 48 nest boxes Palmerston Pl, EH12 5AW
  • The Forge who made many of our swift nest boxes and host 3 nest boxes Viewforth Rd, EH11 1AL
  • Many swifts fly above Harrison Park in the evening.
  • Calder Community Woodland supports an abundance of wildflowers and insects.
  • Ratho Swift Street hosting 9 swift nests Hillview Cottages, Ratho, EH28 8RF
  • Balerno Pesticide Free Town & Swift Street hosting 4 nest boxes Malleny Ave, Balerno EH14 7EL
  • Harmeny School Swift Hub hosting 8 swift nests – No entry to school
  • Colinton Tunnel Mural with a hidden swift, see if you can spot it! Water of Leith, EH13 0JU
  • Haymarket Train Station EH12 5EY
#2 route – the swift

#2 The Swift (30km) click here to see map, or type in each new site as below.

Haymarket – Muirhouse – Granton – Leith links – Lochend – Abbeyhill – Meadowbank – Arthurs Seat – Bruntsfield – Canal – Haymarket

  • Haymarket Train Station EH12 5EY
  • Muirhouse Mural North Edinburgh Arts, 15a Pennywell Rd, EH4 4TZ
  • Granton Hub Wildflower haven & Swift Hub hosting 4 swift nest boxes Granton Park Ave, EH5 1HS
  • George Brown & Sons Engineers Ltd Swift Hub hosting 4 swift nest boxes Tower Street, EH6 7BY
  • Leith Links Mural Vanburgh Pl, EH6 8AE
  • Lochend swift feeding spot and wildflowers EH7 6BP
  • Ss Ninian And Triduana’s church hosting 5 nest boxes, Marionville Rd, EH7 6BW
  • Colony of Artists Swifts Street hosting 7 nest boxes, beautiful gardens and murals Carlyle Pl, EH7 5RZ
  • A Swift Street where local people have built and installed 8 nest boxes Lilyhill Terrace, EH8 7DR
  • Spots to see feeding swifts over St Margret’s Loch, EH8 8JB
  • A Swift Hub of 4 nest boxes at Dynamic Earth Holyrood Rd, EH8 8AS
  • Swift Hub at Salisbury Centre 4 nest boxes 2 Salisbury Rd, EH16 5AB
  • The Meadows feeding spot, Swift Hub in area (garden facing, not visible from cycle path) Melville Dr, EH9 1ND
  • Bruntsfield Links Mural – can you spot the swift? Bruntsfield Pl, EH10 4HG
  • The Forge who made many of our swift nest boxes and host 3 nest boxes Viewforth Rd, EH11 1AL
  • St Mary’s Cathedral Swift Hub hosting 48 nest boxes Palmerston Pl, EH12 5AW
  • Haymarket Train Station EH12 5EY
#3 route – bike beak

#3 Bike Beak (20km) click here to see map, or type in each new site as below. (map to come)

Haymarket – Muirhouse – Granton – Leith – Water of Leith – Haymarket

  • Haymarket Train Station EH12 5EY
  • Muirhouse Mural North Edinburgh Arts, 15a Pennywell Rd, EH4 4TZ
  • Granton Hub Wildflower haven & Swift Hub hosting 4 swift nest boxes Granton Park Ave, EH5 1HS
  • George Brown & Sons Engineers Ltd Swift Hub hosting 4 swift nest boxes Tower Street, EH6 7BY
  • Leith Links Mural Vanburgh Pl, EH6 8AE
  • Water of Leith feeding spots, EH7 4GG
  • Check out Swift Mapper to see nest sights along the way, through Cannonmills, New Town and West End cycle paths
  • The Forge who made many of our swift nest boxes and host 3 nest boxes Viewforth Rd, EH11 1AL
  • St Mary’s Cathedral Swift Hub hosting 48 nest boxes Palmerston Pl, EH12 5AW
  • Haymarket Train Station EH12 5EY
#4 route – on the wing

#4 On the wing (13 miles/20km). Click here to see map, or type in each new site as below.

Haymarket – Water of Leith – Leith Links – Lochend – Abbeyhill colonies – Meadowbank – Arthurs Seat – Bruntsfield – Canal – Haymarket.

  • Haymarket Train Station EH12 5EY
  • St Mary’s Cathedral Swift Hub hosting 48 nest boxes Palmerston Pl, EH12 5AW
  • Check out Swift Mapper to see nest sights along the way, through Cannonmills, New Town and West End cycle paths
  • Water of Leith feeding spots, EH7 4GG
  • George Brown & Sons Engineers Ltd Swift Hub hosting 4 swift nest boxes Tower Street, EH6 7BY
  • Leith Links Mural Vanburgh Pl, EH6 8AE
  • Lochend swift feeding spot and wildflowers EH7 6BP
  • Ss Ninian And Triduana’s church hosting 5 nest boxes, Marionville Rd, EH7 6BW
  • Colony of Artists Swifts Street hosting 7 nest boxes, beautiful gardens and murals Carlyle Pl, EH7 5RZ
  • A Swift Street where local people have built and installed 8 nest boxes Lilyhill Terrace, EH8 7DR
  • Spots to see feeding swifts over St Margret’s Loch, EH8 8JB
  • Dynamic Earth Swift Hub 4 nest boxes Holyrood Rd, EH8 8AS
  • Swift Hub at Salisbury Centre 4 nest boxes 2 Salisbury Rd, EH16 5AB
  • The Meadows – feeding spot, Swift Hub in area (garden facing, not visible from cycle path) Melville Dr, EH9 1ND
  • Bruntsfield Links Mural – can you spot the swift? Bruntsfield Pl, EH10 4HG
  • The Forge who made many of our swift nest boxes and host 3 nest boxes Viewforth Rd, EH11 1AL
  • St Mary’s Cathedral Swift Hub hosting 48 nest boxes Palmerston Pl, EH12 5AW
  • Haymarket Train Station EH12 5EY

Walking Routes

Arthur’s Seat Walk/Cycle

#1 Arthurs Seat. This is a moderate-challenging walk or cycle. It is 4 miles/6km with all-access pavements and is family friendly. Click here to see map or visit the sites below.

  • Swift Art by Duddingston Primary, Edinburgh Swift Local Group & members of the public will be hosted along the path by the Historic Environment Scotland Holyrood Park Education Centre during Swift Awareness Week EH8 8HG
  • A Swift Hub of 4 nest boxes at Dynamic Earth Holyrood Rd, EH8 8AS
  • Spots to see feeding swifts over Dunsapie Loch, Duddingston Loch, St. Margrets Loch. You can log feeding swifts onto Birdtrack.
  • A Swift Street where local people have built and installed 8 nest boxes Lilyhill Terrace, EH8 7DR
Leith Links Walk/Cycle

#2 Leith Links walk or cycle is roughly 1 mile long, relatively flat with all access paths and family friendly. Click here to see map, or visit the Swift Mural by Natasha Russell located

  • Mural location is at Leith Links, Old Leith Academy, where Vanburgh Place & Lochend Road meet. (55°58’10.1″N 3°10’01.0″W)
  • Walk one mile and imagine walking 17,000 of those! That’s the distance a swift flies to The Congo and back again.
  • Swifts are often feeding around the links around dawn and dusk. How many can you see?
  • Bring the family or wellbeing pack with you.

Citizen Science Swift Surveys

If at any point along the route you see swifts entering or leaving a nest, please record this information on Swift Mapper. You can download to use on a smart phone or submit to website. On Swift Mapper you can also record screaming parties. Screaming parties are swifts less than 50m high and include the following behaviours

  • a group of swifts screaming flying along eaves/roofs/over housing
  • flying low over a house repeatedly  pack over themselves (arcing)
  • investigating nest boxes, flying up and clinging to the nest box (bangers)

Feeding and migrating can be recorded on Birdtrack. If you see swifts >50m high above natural spaces they are often feeding. If they are flying slowly drifting along, heading steadily in one direction they are migrating.

Careful not the confuse with the swallow or house martin.

These birds can look similar! Note the white belly of the swallow and house martin, and the long tail of the swallow. RSPB Images.

Protect the swifts

What more can you do for this beautiful bird? Check out this page.

Signs

  • Signs are made with recycled correx & eco ink, and put up using biodegradable cable ties.

Disclaimer

For the cycle paths please be aware that this is a self-led cycle. Please check the map details, descriptions, directions and maps to see if your route is appropriate for your skill and experience in cycling.

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