Walking the Pentland Hills is a delightful outing throughout the year. Â If you think it’s alwaysÂ about hiking boots, a compass and several miles of terrain, then think again. Â Elspeth Anderson takesÂ a poetic – if damp – Sunday afternoon stroll in spring…
Driving over the bridge that spans the City by-pass, we parked in the car park, then walked through the latch gate into Bonaly Country Park. Passing an avenue of trees on our left, and the road that would lead over the hills to Flotterstone, we followed a single, twisting and turning track to the right. Reaching the top of a slope, there was Edinburgh before us; a dull day today, with the panoramaÂ partially obscured, the distant views of the hills in Fife were a blur on the horizon, and the Firth of Forth was a faint silver ribbon. It all added to the atmosphere, a reminder of the fluidity of nature and of the endlessly changing seasons. Â Other Sunday walkers, some with dogs were all dressed for the inclement weather; all nodded and smiled in a friendly manner.
Walking steadily,Â we got our first glimpse of Torduff, a large be-calmed reservoir. Tiny ripples of water scoured its surface, as several Mallard ducks dabbled near the edge. Walking over the iron bridge there was another tantalising glimpse to our right, of the land below. Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat, could just be seen before the path turned inland. On one side loomed the large black crags of Torduff hill, reflected in the water.
Cyclists passed us in convoy in yellow hi-vis jackets. ClimbingÂ the steep hill, we paused to admire a lively burn. A waterfall tumbled down, ran under the footpath in a culvert, finally into the reservoir. Ancient rocks jutted on the banking, covered in lacy, lilac lichen.Â Continuing on the stony path, after another twisted upward incline, we reached Â a furtherÂ stretch of water, Clubbiedean. This is one of the smallest reservoirs in the hills, constructed in 1849 to help supply water to the City of Edinburgh. Now a fishery, where rainbow and blue trout can be caught (by permit) in the summer season.
Gradually, the view opened up to wild moorland on our left. The Pentland Hills ranged in the far distance out to the south west and the faint grey shapes of the Fife Hills filled the Northern horizon. Sheep grazed in the fields, cultivated farm land sloped up at one side encased by fences.Â At this junction an arrowed signpost pointed to a path that led downwards to the intriguingly named Poetâ€™s Glen. A wooded dell, named after the Scottish weaver-poet James Thomson (1783- 1832) who lived on Mid-Kinleith farm, in a cottage, named Mount Parnassas. The scenic Kinelith burn, now re-named Poets burn runs into the water of Leith,Â just below Currie Kirk, off the Lanark road.
We noticed the muddy path that wound through Sanctuary wood on the other side of the Torduff reservoir, a more arduous route. But we turned back, choosing to descend down the steep, narrow stony track. Crossing the narrow bridge over Torduff once more, we returned to the car-park; we had been walking for two hours.
Photographs of Torduff and Clubbiedean by Richard Webb, www.geograph.org.ukÂ