Sunday 19 August 2012

A Walk in the Pentland Hills


After a week in Edinburgh, roaming the streets from show to show, I was beginning to feel the need for fresh air, open space and the sounds and silence of nature rather than the undulating metal thrum of traffic, the closed-in hard lines of buildings and the agitated, constantly moving crowds. Happily, as well as the miniature mountain of Arthur's Seat inside the city Edinburgh has its own range of hills just outside, the Pentlands.

A half-hour bus journey at the ridiculously low price of £1.50 return took me out of the city to the foot of the hills. I then spent a day wandering through the glens and over the summits. The day was cloudy with showers and there were few people around - just a half dozen walkers on the tops and maybe twice as many anglers on the reservoirs that fill some of the glens. The hills are grassy but steep with distinctive summits and occasional tiny crags and patches of scree. There are steep-sided little valleys, rushing burns and attractive waterfalls. Overall the Pentland Hills are much more akin to the Southern Uplands to the south than the more rugged Highlands to the north.

The Pentlands aren't high, reaching just 579 metres on Skald Law and 576 metres on Carnethy Hill, the two highest summits, but they still have a wild feel and there is no doubt that you are up above the world as you look out over the flat patchwork fields of the lowlands to Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth. I walked the ridge from West Kip over Skald Law and Carnethy Hill to Turnhouse Hill and a fine rolling ridge it is too, with extensive views and interesting twists and turns. 

Refreshed, I caught the bus back into the urban bustle, ready for more shows and city streets. Having such hills on its borders makes Edinburgh a good city for outdoor lovers. Knowing you can be in the  Pentlands less than an hour after leaving the city centre is wonderful


  1. I'm a subscriber to the idea that cities benefit from having a significant landscape feature, either within or adjacent to the city itself: a river, a view of hills, a coastal position.

    Edinburgh is particularly blessed in terms of its location.

  2. Hi Chris

    My family live up near the Pentland's and I absolutely love it up there. Its great for a brisk walk to clear the cob webs :)

  3. When someday I finally make the big sojourn to the land of my ancestors I will keep this in mind.