Lothian Walks – The Pentland Skyline

The Pentland Hills are special, not just for Edinburgh people – Stevenson’s Hills of Home – but for all who live in East West and Mid Lothian as well. They frame and enhance the view wherever you go. Streets are named after them in every town and village.

When Edinburgh first outgrew its local water supply at Comiston, it was to the Pentlands that the Council turned and built the first reservoir at Glencorse in 1823. To this day, Glencorse plays a central part in the distribution of water from more recent catchement works in the Borders at Talla, Meggat etc.

The Pentlands are also marvellous walking country and thousands of people go there every week. One fo the best approaches must be by the water-board road from Flotterstone. From the car park/visitor centre opposite the Inn, it leads you easily up to the reservoir. For a there and back walk, reckon 5km or 3 miles. Views all round are as good as you will find in southern Scotland. The road is busy with a procession of walkers, runners and cyclists and the tarred surface is easy for buggies and wheelchairs.

If you care to go as far again, that will take you to the second reservoir (loganlea); the tarred road stops here by a house where a notorious murder was committed in the 1980s, although a good track continues to the far end near the supposed site of Habbie’s Howe in Allan Ramsay’s poem.

For a circuit that visits all of the central area, while avoiding the more strenuous tops, you might head up the water board road, for perhaps 1 km, to a path vutting uphill to Castlelaw Farm. Take a moment to visit the souterrain.

A track heads off almost due north, skirting Castlelaw and Allermuir, from the western slopes of which you will enjoy a panorama of the whole of the central range. The track becomes a path on beautiful springy turf over Capelaw Hill and Harbour Hill, dipping into little valleys with beautiful Pentland names – Phantom’s Cleuch, Maiden’s Cleuch, Den’s Cleuch.

It follows a dyke along the north side of the Black Hill as far as the Green Cleuch. The top of the Black Hill is rather a slog but it is one of the few places where I have found white heather growing wild.

On reaching the Green Cleuch, all you need do is turn left and follow the Logan Burn and the reservoirs down. The whole distance is 16km or 10 miles with a total climb of about 360m or 1100ft.

On this walk, you are sure to see grouse in plenty on the hills, ducks and geese on Threipmuir and dippers in the burn.

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