Allermuir and Caerketton Hills

Allermuir from Caerketton

Allermuir from Caerketton

With a few hours to spare on a trip to Edinburgh, Jazz came up with the idea of climbing the two hills at the end of the Pentland Hills range that she needed for her scrap-book: Allermuir and Caerketton. Since we park just off the bypass, it makes for a convenient stop. I last walked here 35 years ago and it turns out I was either much fitter then or I’ve been suppressing the memory of the steepness.

Victorian postbox, SwanstonAfter parking beside Lothianburn golf club we took the track to Swanston kindly indicated by the Scottish Rights of Way Society.  This hamlet is a bunch über-twee thatched cottages complete with a Victorian post-box that clearly has an eye on being April in the Picturesque Villages 2013 Calendar.  The path now heads up towards the hills passed the fields of Exmoor ponies.

Highland Cows on the path to AllermuirAnd the operative word is “up” because this path doesn’t bother hanging about in climbing.  It goes through a field of Highland Cows that look perfectly in place. With so many pointy bits Jazz was on the lead and her best behaviour. But clearly our new bovine friends are very used to people walking on their hill because they just turned to look and say hello. Whew, because there was no way I’m running away from them up this hill.

Jazz on Allermuir

Jazz at lunch spot on Allermuir

The first hill is Allermuir which we reach after a few false summits and the final steep haul to the trig point at the summit. It was very windy and grungy so the view wasn’t perfect, but Edinburgh looked superb with spotlights of sunshine racing over it.  We stopped at a nice wind-break for lunch and looked down on the city trying to spot old landmarks: and unfortunately Edinburgh University’s Appleton Tower is still standing.

Edinburgh from Caerketton

Edinburgh from Caerketton

The second hill of the day is Caerketton sitting above the artificial ski slope at Hillend. Getting there involved a knee-crushing drop and an easy, wind-assisted climb.  The view of Edinburgh followed us, but now we were getting the view in the  Esk Valley and out along the Forth.  This is my old stomping ground and so I could indulge in a bit of nostalgia. Interestingly I noticed that my old school has been demolished and what looks like a nuclear power station erected in its place. Not that the old place won any design awards – I remember when the main rotunda fell down a pit shaft.

Jazz on a windy Caerketton

Jazz on a windy Caerketton

Now it is just a matter of turning my knees to jelly with a drop back down beside the ski slope to the car. At this point I realised that the steepness shouldn’t have come as a surprise if I’d given it a femto-second’s thought: where else would you built a ski slope?  So a lovely, if unexpectedly tough, 3-hour walk with amazing views over Edinburgh. Pick a  clear day to do this walk and you won’t be disappointed.

Distance:6km
Effort:
Scenery:
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