Walk – The Hermitage and Blackford Hill, Edinburgh

From Blackford Hill in Edinburgh you can walk half a mile with small children and feed the ducks in Blackford Pond or you can go for a strenuous 3-mile run. Here is an interesting and varied walk. As it is a figure of 8, you can join in anywhere, do half only, as you like. For this article I have chosen to go from Blackford Pond. From the main gate in Charterhall Road turn right past the pond. (Either side, it does not matter.) The path rises steeply by the west side of Blackford Hill, passing allotments and then a couple of meadows where cattle graze.
Continuing from this first high point, the path drops equally steeply down the locally named “Cardiac Brae” to the Braid Burn. I would not take the burnside yet, however, but cross the wide footbridge to rise yet again by the steep steps on the Lang Linn Path to Braid Hills Road. This is a good point to pause for a moment and enjoy the view. Blackford Hill and Arthur’s Seat block out much of Fife but there are wide prospects over both East and West Lothian and the city. After you have enjoyed the view, turn west/right along Braid Hills Road for a bit. The main gate back into the Hermitage is in Braid Road; you might use the quieter Braid Farm Road and/or Braid Hills Avenue to get there, avoiding busy traffic.
From the gate follow the burn – your companion for the next mile. But keep looking about, for this is one of the city’s most interesting nature reserves. Half-way along is the Hermitage of Braid House, housing the ranger service. The Hermitage of Braid has been designated as ancient woodland. This means that woodland has covered the site for at least 300 years. However, most of what you will see today probably dates from the 19th century.
Pass under the long footbridge you crossed some time ago, then, shortly after you leave the trees of the Hermitage behind, you will come to the Agassiz Rock. Note the small plaque that explains how much of the theory of Scotland’s Ice Age history was based on discoveries made locally. Now look for an informal path uphill (north) towards the top of Blackford Hill and the Observatory. If you prefer, retrace your route to “Cardiac Brae” and climb the 100 steps up to the trig point on Blackford Hill.
The Observatory is another significant landmark as you head north-west back to the pond. However, there are many paths, so take your time to stroll about the top of Blackford Hill and enjoy the huge panoramas.

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One Response to Walk – The Hermitage and Blackford Hill, Edinburgh

  1. Pingback: Lothian Life the magazine for Edinburgh and the Lothians » Archive » Celebrating Local Greenspace at the Hermitage of Braid

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