Pentland Hills

Pentland ridge from Green Law

This was a nostalgia trip: the Pentlands used to be a favourite stomping ground when I was young. Now where did that quarter of a century go? These hills aren’t particularly high (the highest, Scauld Law doesn’t even get to 2000 feet). But they look great and are very easy to access. Today we did a mostly linear walk from Carlops to the Flotterstone Inn: a total of 18km and 9 tops.

Jazz running up Green Law the wrong way!

A helpful parent dropped us off at the Allan Ramsey pub in Carlops.  The path starts at the north end of the village and heads up Patie’s Hill and then a easy wander over Spittal Hill and Green Law. This wasn’t particularly green today as we still had a bit of snow left over from the cold spell at the beginning of the year.  This takes you to the edge of the Kips and one of the main access paths into the hills.  It was here we first encounter the main problem of the day: people. The place was just jumping with them.  For us, used to walking in the Galloway Hills where you see no-one, this was a shock.  I suppose that’s the problem being here on a weekend: everybody in Edinburgh and their dogs want to join you. Later it was like the deli in Tesco’s: take a ticket and wait your turn.  The good thing was that the scenery was as good as I remembered it, and Jazz had lots of new friends to meet and see if they wanted to share their lunch with her.

Patie's Hill from Spittal Hill

West Kip from Green Law

Looking SW from West Kip

Looking NE along Pentland ridge from West Kip

The route now goes over the Kips (short and sharp) and then a detour onto South Black Hill (another chromatic-misnomer today) for a lunch stop overlooking the Esk Valley. I grew up in this valley and know it has some lovely spots (e.g. Roslin Glen) but now it is just one horrible suburban sprawl that joins onto Edinburgh: awful.

Kev and Jazz on Scauld Law

After lunch we backtrack a bit onto Scauld Law, the highest point in the Pentlands, so Jazz can tick off another trig point. Some helpful member of the throng on the top offered to take our picture. He waxed knowledgeably about aperture priority and other camera stuff. Then he took the picture with the horizon at 30 degrees (see left). Moral: just balance your camera on the trig point and use the self-timer 1.

Carnethy Hill from Scauld Law (spot the herd at the top)

Looking East over Turnhouse Hill from Carnethy Hill

Now we continue towards Carnethy Hill. This involves a steep descent and then climb back to almost the same height. The people I felt sorry for were the squad of soldiers from the local barracks taking huge packs with radios up: weird as the mobile phone signal is great here. We went against the flow of people walking over Turnhouse Hill 2 From here we could take the tourist motorway straight down to the Visitor Centre, but it was a lovely day and we wanted to prolong things so we retraced a bit and then down to the reservoir road that runs through the middle of the hills. We followed this around Glencorse Reservoir and just passed the dam I noticed an interesting new path (well, it wasn’t there 25 years ago) that goes down to the outflow and followed this to the Visitor Centre.


  1. And don’t get taken in with geeky bullshit.
  2. No-one seemed to be enjoying themselves; no-one made eye contact; no-one said “hello”.
Do It Again: