Skating pages

This page:

Skating in Edinburgh - my thoughts and experiences, places to skate.
Comparison of ice and inline skating.

Other pages:

Best videos from YouTube and Vimeo
Also interesting and weird skates. Videos by and of yours truly ice skating, inline skating, chased by a Westie! Comparison of inline skates you can walk in - personal impressions.
Recreational Ice Skates - What are they?
Le Patin Libre and Red Bull at Murrayfield + other ice rink photos

Page2 Favourite Videos/Different skates - Page3 Reviews and examples - Page4 Me skating - Page5 Recreational Ice Skates

Ice Skating

(Speed skates not permitted for public sessions!)

There were 2 ice rinks in Edinburgh when I first started ice skating at the end of the '50s, Murrayfield and Haymarket (info / picture). The latter was probably better known for curling.

My adolescence was largely spent at Murrayfield Ice Rink but the '60s came along with all its splendid distractions... Four decades later in 2004 I revisited Murrayfield at a midweek afternoon session and took along my old hockey skates with their leather boots and tubular metal blade supports. Since then I bought Nike 'recreational' skates from Proline Skates on the internet. These skates are essentially hockey skates without the rear tendon guard and with easier lacing etc. I've since fitted t-blades to these boots, details here.

Children's recreational skates are more easily obtained than adults' ones. Most adults may just settle for hockey skates. Some examples of adult recreational ice skates are on the Personal Inline & Ice Skate reviews page.

Inline Skating

Like many children growing up in the '50s my experience of roller skating was with crude quad wheeled efforts that clamped to ordinary shoes and had a strap round your ankle. These sometimes fell off (ouch!).

Some of us kids also made a prototype skateboard with a large book on a single skate. We would sit on this with our knees touching our chin and hurtle down hills at speed.

Inline skates usually have 4 wheels in line. (Rollerblade is a proprietory brand like Hoover or Biro.) So-called 'aggressive' skates have smaller wheels and no heel-brake. These skaters are wearing racing skates but most inline skates are classed 'recreational'.

Similarities & Differences between ice skating and roller skating

The method of propulsion is the same whether using ice skates or skates with wheels; you angle your feet slightly outwards and push sideways. Gravity can do most of the work for you if you're not in a hurry; transferring your weight from one foot to the other takes more effort.

To go backwards it's the same except you angle your heels outwards. Transferring your weight from one foot to the other will propel you along.

Hockey skates are popular for recreational ice skating. They have thinner blades about 2.8mm wide. Figure skates as used for ice dancing etc have blades about twice as wide and with a more pronounced 'cradle'. How much a skate can rock on a flat surface influences how sharply it curves when the skater leans to one side.

Speed skates are used for racing and are long and unwieldly, not for use in public sessions. They are very thin where they make contact with the ice and have a flat bottom surface about 1mm wide.

Whatever kind of skates you wear, it's essential to have the boots tight to support your ankles. Wear thick socks for comfort. Your ankles shouldn't flop about! You should learn to balance on inside or outside edges on either foot when skating. Beginners, you should practice falling by simply letting your legs fold underneath you. Your confidence will increase once you realise falling down is no big deal.

Quad Skates

I haven't used quad skates since childhood so I'm no expert. Auld Reekie Roller Girls skate with these at their Roller Derbies:

Sharpening of Ice Skates

Figure skates and hockey skates have a groove running along the bottom surface of the blade. This improves the lateral grip for pushing sideways or for leaning over when swerving or performing tight curves.

A 2.8mm thick hockey skate ground with a groove of 5mm radius is a good compromise. It provides 2 hollow-ground edges to bite into the ice for good sideways grip, but the groove is sufficiently shallow to allow easy skidding for braking.

If you want to sharpen your own skates then buy a SkateMate. Order the retrofit kit for hockey skates,

FIG. 1. Thin flat blade
Grain size: >0.02 mm. Gap at arrow: <0.020 mm. Edges are honed, nonetheless. A truly flat abrasive would cause the blade to ‘dig in’ and wear duller.
FIG. 2. Deep blade hollow
Unflexed round cylnder fits 12.7 mm [1/2"] ROH perfectly. Blade width: 2.79 mm [0.11"] The RETROFIT KIT is best for 5/16-3/8 inch ROH.
FIG. 3. Shallow blade hollow
Flexed oval cylinder fits blade hollow perfectly from 25.4 mm [1"] ROH and up to 50 mm [2"] ROH. Blade width: 3.82 mm [0.15"] Good for goalies.

Also see Blademaster's PDF for more details about Radius of Hollow

Stopping and slowing down

This is much easier on ice, being a yielding surface which allows you to skid by turning your skates sideways. If you fall on the ice you're likely to slide on the surface. On tarmac the abrasive surface can graze your skin or worse. It takes time to learn to brake using one heel when you're on wheels.


Ice rinks are fairly safe. They don't normally slope. Thin gloves can be useful. Skating on footpaths and roads with rollerblades inline skates can be very dangerous, especially if you haven't mastered the use of the heel-brake normally fitted to the right boot.

For rollerblading inline skating you should wear protective pads, available cheaply from Argos. Wrist supports could prevent broken bones in the event of a fall. Beware of hills!

Places to skate in Edinburgh

For ice skating there's Murrayfield Ice Rink of course. Also, at Christmas time you can ice skate in the open air at Princes Street Gardens.

For skaters on wheels, Edinburgh has many steep hills to avoid. The promenade between Cramond and Silverknowes now provides 4km of broad, level tarmac to skate along if you continue along the sea front to West Shore Road. There are no cars but you'll meet cyclists and dog walkers. The surface is variable but mostly quite smooth. There's a section near the west end of Marine Drive which is a bit rough and not helped by broken shells dropped there by feeding seagulls.

Update June 2013: At The Meadows, North Meadow Walk should be upgraded by the time you read this. The Western section was wide and smooth this morning Sunday 16th.

Portobello Promenade is also popular but it isn't so spacious and you may have to cross some cobbles near Bath Street.

If you are able to control your speed downhill then the Innocent Railway Tunnel and footpath are fun. From the Commonwealth Pool take Holyrood Park Road then turn left into East Parkside.

The tunnel entrance is on your right underneath Holyrood Park Road. The tunnel is half a kilometre long and has lights and a smooth tarmac surface down which you can freewheel with ease (not advised for beginners). When you emerge you can continue to freewheel for another 0.5km then skate along the level path at the south side of Duddingston Loch.

The cycle path continues after a pedestrian crossing at Duddingston Road West but the surface is mostly much rougher for small wheels. You can continue to Duddingston Park South or turn right under the railway embankment to Hay Avenue and Niddrie Mains Road.

New Glasgow skaters should check out

Where to buy skates

Edinburgh's Murrayfield Ice Rink has its own Skate Shop. Expect to pay maybe £60 for hockey skates.

Some examples of adult recreational ice skates are on the Personal Inline & Ice Skate reviews page.
I also found Hockey Monkey Reviews a great resource for information on the latest ice hockey skates.

For inline skates, especially adult sized recreational skates, there's a shop in Portobello High Street near Bridge Street called Cycles and Blades which keeps stock. You could even hire inline skates if you want to try out skating on Portobello Promenade.

For adult agressive skates and recreational skates in children's sizes try Route One in Cockburn Street. Dunno what they've got against adult rec skaters!

Useful Links

Murrayfield Ice Rink skating times - Official Website here:

Try Skating Learn to skate at especially if you live near Glasgow.


For lots of information about inline skates try this website (in German).

Skating Articles & News comprehensive site with many more links

SkateMate sharpener in UK now available in Britain

SkateMate home page more information

DemonExtreme skates etc

Proline - Recommended skate shop Free sharpening, returns ok if unused - e.g. poor fit. Only seem to stock recreational skates in child sizes now. Adults can buy hockey skates or ice dance / figure skates.

Top on Ice or in Germany may be able to supply specific needs not available in UK. broadband needed for videos - recommended viewing

The Physics of Ice Skating There's not enough pressure to melt ice under your skate...

Source of adult size Heelys

::Heelys:: Freedom is a wheel in your sole home page of the makers

Skating pensioner fined by court - BBC news 24/2/09

Hints and Tips for inline skating (in German): Inliner

Check out Henniker Clothing at (no connection to Dave Henniker but their stuff is cool)

Page2 Favourite Videos/Different skates - Page3 Reviews and examples - Page4 Me skating - Page5 Recreational Ice Skates

Winter Wonderland Time Lapse video by Meltec

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Sorry, but I don't know the author of this image. I liked it so much I had to feature it.