Picnics in the Pentlands

The recurring, intractable problem faced by myself and other hill-walking fathers is hot to reconcile diverging goals within the family. For example, how to combine a picnic for small children with a walk for an energetic father; or how to head off discord between sons and daughters, who want respectively to race like mountain goats over every hill in sight, or simply to go for a walk.

Fortunately we have the Pentlands nearby.

I have, in the past, gone from Little Vantage for picnics where the Cauldstaneslap path crosses the Water of Leith. The stream at Gala Ford can be full and strong in winter or spring but it is quiet in summer, quite suitable for (supervised) play for a short time while one or two members of the party walk (dash?) up East Cairn Hill, possibly even over both East and West.

Green Cleugh

To combine an energetic walk for some members of a party with a gentler one for others, the line of the Green Cleugh passing between Hare Hill and Black Hill is ideal as this photo from Dave Henniker illustrates.

Start at the Red Moss car park above Balerno. Unfortunately buses stop a mile or so short. Cross Harperrig Reservoir to head up a beautiful beech avenue. Left at the top is Bavelaw Castle, then guide posts lead over grazing land into the Green Cleugh. If you go all the way, the track leads past Loganlea and Glencorse Reservoirs to the Edinburgh – Biggar Road at Flotterstone. But there are many admirable picnic spots before there, e.g. in the Green Cleugh itself, near the waterfall over which the Logan Burn drops from the moorland of Kitchen Moss. This is 3.5km or 2 miles from the car park.

In summer there are abundant red grouse in the moors, often one or two black as well. You will see and hear curlews, peewits and other birds which make a Scottish summer. Peregrines breed on the crag to the south of the waterfall (which is now fenced off).

In late summer, the heather must be some of our finest and I have more than once found white heather amongst it.

How do you organise a walk with two different objectives? In this case, everybody goes to the Green Cleugh. Those undertaking the longer walk go south and take the Old Kirk Road (Scottish Rights of Way Society signpost about 500m south). Turn right at the col between Scald Law and Carnethy to go over Scald Law, East and West Kips. As you come off the last, turn right along the track to go back to Bavelaw and the avennue leading down to the car park.

It might even be better the other way round. One more beauty of the Logan Valley is that from every col between two hills, there is a path leading to lower ground.

So, if you do all set off together to try the full version of this walk and someone finds it rather too much, it is an easy matter to drop down to valley level. You simply arrange when and where to meet up later.

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