Today I am writing about the third set of hills I grew up with. While the Pentlands and the Moorfoots feel like home, East Lothian’s Lammermuirs somehow feel more distant from Edinburgh or the other towns of the Lothians â€“ almost like â€˜the Bordersâ€™. When I was a boy, they involved a longish cycle run in. And yet, they are not really any more remote than Gladhouse in the Pentlands.
I have three suggestions. First of all, find Longyester on the Edinburgh OS map (Sheet 66) ref 545 652 a couple of miles south of Gifford and a little to the east. There is a No Through Road sign at the corner of the farm buildings, although the tarred surface continues for almost a mile. Only a few years ago, the sign was the familiar East Lothian black-on-white but with a warning that the road ahead was unsuitable for motor vehicles.
If your goal is Lammer Law, you can leave your car, parked carefully on the verge, at many suitable points in the mile or so after Longyester. The road rises, becoming gradually steeper and comes after some 3km (2 miles) to the eastern shoulder â€“ not quite the top â€“ of Lammer Law, with wide views out over the Lothian plain. You have climbed about 320m (just over 1000ft) with time left over to enjoy the view.
Another local classic is the walk from Longyester to Carfraemill but, as this is about 10 miles each way, some logistical planning is called for! If the whole party is to walk both ways, that makes quite a long dayâ€™s outing. Lunch at Carfraemill, perhaps? If, however, you can find a willing driver to leave you at Longyester and meet you at Carfraemill, even Tollishill, the distance can be reduced to 5-7 miles and an enjoyable short day out can be planned for all concerned.
My third suggestion is a longish circle based on Lammer Law and the Hopes Reservoir â€“ also very popular locally. Leave your car, as in my first suggestion, near Longyester and take the Lauder Road. Again, a little over 3km or 2 miles brings you to the summit on the road, not far from lammer Law. Obviously you do not want to miss the top or the view. It is only about 400m to the west off your direct line. But, after coming back to the track, head eastwards down the flattish ridge of Bleak Law to meet another track in the valley by Hopes Water. This will bring you to the south side of the reservoir.
There are, in fact, tracks on both sides, which meet up again at West Hopes and go on to East Hopes. Continue to follow the very minor road almost due north to a T-junction, where you go left and back to Longyester.
When I went there to check my walk, I was even able to take advantage of the new access legislation to shorten the return on hard road surfaces, by using field access tracks and large meadows without grazing stock. This gives an amazing feeling of freedom but is on no account to be abused â€“ as I said, I was able to avoid all crops and grazing stock.
For further information see Alan Hall’s book Walks in the Lammermuirs