7 Pentland Hills

Our plans today were to head home from Edinburgh but my wife decided that she’s like to go with our daughter to the Ideal Home Show in Glasgow. This did not appeal to me one bit so I had a free day for a wee dauner in the Pentlands.

I decided that, to reflect my walk around the 7 hills of Edinburgh, I would do 7 tops in the Pentlands. The excellent Edinburgh bus service means that a linear walk is easy so I caught a 44 bus to Balerno to start my walk. My plan was to walk over Hare Hill, Black Hill, Bell’s Hill, Harbour Hill, Capelaw Hill, Allermuir Hill and finally Caerketton Hill. The forecast was good – dry, with sunshine in the afternoon.

I often find that the hardest part of navigation is getting started and this was no exception. I got off the bus in the wrong place in Balerno and ended up walking around Threipmuir reservoir to get started. I think it was an understandable mistake – I was planning to start near Harelaw Castle and I followed a sign for Harlaw – but they were not the same place. Finally, I got to Easter Bavelaw Farm and got started.

Aircrash Memorial, German plane, 1943

Hare Hill was the first hill, not often visited I suspect. By chance, I came across this memorial to an aircrew who died in a crash in 1943 – a bit of googling revealed this was a German plane that crashed after a failed raid on Leith docks. A few minutes later I was on the summit.

Summit cairn , Hare Hill

There was a big drop down before Black Hill, with a short and steep section where I really missed my walking poles.



I stopped for lunch out of the wind, when the sun threatened to shine but it never managed to break through the clouds. There was a path part of the way to the summit but then it petered out in the heather.


Bog and heather, Black Hlll summit

Another big drop before the next hill – Bell’s Hill. But there was a reasonable path from the glen to the summit.

From Bell's Hill. Looking back to Black Hill

Things got a bit easier after this – it became more of a high-level walk with fewer big drops between the hills. I hadn’t seen anyone on the hills so far but on Harbour Hill, I was overtaken by some fell runners. I got the first views over Edinburgh from here.

From Harbour Hill, towards Edinburgh

Capelaw Hill towards Allermuir Hill

Capelaw Hill was a bit bigger so it was a bit of a climb from Harbour Hill. The summit was marked by this strange metal post.

On to Allermuir Hill, where there was an indicator that showed what could be seen on a clear day. Unfortunately, the promised sunshine never appeared and there wasn’t a great deal to see from the top.

Indicator, Allermuir Hill

Finally, Caerketton Hill, the nearest to the road and the only hill where I saw more than a handful of people. Good views over the city – I must go back there sometime when it’s clear. I dropped down to Fairmilehead to catch a number 11 bus back into the city – through coconut scented whin bushes.

From Caerketton Hill, looking towards Arthurs Seat

Whin bushes

I hadn’t been in the Pentlands for more than 30 years – since I lived in Edinburgh – and I had forgotten how many ups and downs there were. They are not the most exciting hills – quite a lot of heather and bog – but it was a good walk. Disappointing weather – dull all day with a cold east wind, which meant that I didn’t linger on any of the tops. I guess I walked about 20km with more than 1000 m of ascent.

2 thoughts on “7 Pentland Hills

  • June 4, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    One good thing about the Pentland landscape – if you fall on your face you generally get a good soft landing! 20K over that kind of ground is a fair day in my book as my Geograph meanderings can testify. Hurray for a free day.

  • June 4, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Too true – I was more knackered than I expected at the end of it.


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