The Stockbridge Duck Race

Edinburgh is renowned for many architectural and historic sights, so a glimpse of a thousand yellow plastic ducks sailing down the Water of Leith may come as something of a surprise to the unsuspecting visitor. But, every summer, that is exactly what happens at the Stockbridge Duck Race, an enduringly popular event that, having taken place annually for the past 30 years, is now ingrained in the village’s calendar.

During the past three decades, the Stockbridge Duck Race has become one of the most eagerly anticipated charity events in the city, raising tens of thousands of pounds for good causes. The ducks are sold in advance of the race at cafes, restaurants, bars and shops throughout Stockbridge for a nominal fee, and are then taken to the event on the day, where they are dropped by the duckload into the river from the bridge adjacent to the village’s Pizza Express.

The rules are somewhat simple: in the spirit of Poohsticks, the ducks float downstream, bobbing along on the current while the eager crowd cheer on from the side-lines, with those that cross the finishing line first winning their owners a variety of prizes donated by local businesses.

A shot in the duck While victory really is in the lap of the gods, the Stockbridge Duck Race is essentially good natured fun that brings together the local community and visitors, with a serious mission to raise much-needed funds for local charities. The picturesque Water of Leith, with its strong downward currents, creates the perfect setting for the event and, in keeping with a commitment to protect the local environment, every single plastic duck is retrieved from the water by specially-appointed duck wardens. In the spirit of the world’s greatest competitions, the event is followed by an après-duck party, hosted by a local public house. Scotland has always enjoyed a proud sporting tradition and, while there may be a considerable slice of luck and absence of skill in the Stockbridge Duck Race, there’s little doubt that passions run just as high among spectators and competitors as at a Six Nations match against the country’s oldest adversary, England.

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