Top 5 Walks in The Pentlands Hills | Tiso Blog
For anyone living in Lothian or the surrounding area the Pentland Hills Regional Park can become a playground for outdoor adventure appealing to people of all ages and abilities.
The woodland paths and stunning reservoirs offer endless fun for all the family while it’s ‘medium-sized’ hills offer spectacular views across Edinburgh and beyond for those who fancy a bit more of a challenge.
With many of the walks accessible by public transport it’s about time you explored the natural beauty that the Pentland Hills have in store just a stone’s throw from the city.
1. Harlaw Reservoir - One for all the family - 3.5km
With parking available for the Harlaw House Visitor Centre it’s the perfect place to begin a family friendly walk. There are toilets available in the building. Continue straight on from the Visitor Centre, following a clear path that runs alongside Harlaw Reservoir. It soon leads into woodland offering endless new discoveries for little ones along the way whether it’s spotting birds and squirrels or competing to find the biggest leaves or the best tree to climb!
Following the path clockwise around the reservoir you can look out for fishermen along the edge of the water. When the path reaches a steep grassy embankment you can clamber up here to look out over Threipmuir reservoir on the other side. Turn right and follow the path along the embankment then cross the small footbridge to continue following the path round Harlaw reservoir.
Here you can choose to wind through more woodland or stroll straight down the wider path, both options meet back at the visitor centre. Visit on a Saturday or Sunday to enjoy homemade crepes from the crepe van that’s parked at the centre.
2. Allermuir Hill - One for the views of Edinburgh - 6km
When turning off the A702 for the Snowsports Centre there is a small car park immediately on the left. This can also be reached from Edinburgh by bus. Begin the walk from here following signs for ‘Capital View’ walk before you reach some steps.
When you turn left here there is a steep ascent diagonally up a small slope. Continue along the path which takes you up to a bench that offers extensive views back across Edinburgh. The route meets a gate in the fence and instead of following the signs for ‘Capital View’ walk pass through the gate and up the hill.
Highland cattle can sometimes be seen grazing here overlooking the city. A large cairn is reached marking Caerketton Hill and views begin to open out across some of the more prominent Pentland Hills to the right. The path dips down before the ascent of Allermuir Hill begins, reaching a trig point at the summit.
After soaking up the panoramic views begin the descent by retracing your steps then forking left. Again you may glimpse the Highland cattle here at the bottom before following the burn and continuing on the tiny picturesque village of Swanston. Turning right at the stone cottages follows a track that emerges at the A702 and back to the car park.
3. North Esk Reservoir - One for bird watching - 6.4km
There is a small parking area at Nine Mile Burn off the A702 or there is a public service bus that will stop here. Begin from the parking area continuing along the road until a track is reached on the right hand side. This leads you through Spittal Farm and continues up and over a hill. From here follow the path round until a fork is reached.
Here take the left path which begins to descend down to North Esk Reservoir. A small ‘boat house’ is quickly reached with a picnic bench perfectly located for a snack stop to enjoy the views looking out over the reservoir and surrounding hills. The descent continues to a house all the while birdsong becomes more and more prominent.
An information board near the house at the edge of the reservoir details the various birds that can be seen. Following the path clockwise round the reservoir brings you to a small hut named ‘Dulverton Hide’. Complete with seats, maps and hatches which can be opened to look out onto the reservoir it is the perfect peaceful spot for bird watchers. Be sure to secure the hatches and the door when leaving and retrace your steps back along the path to Nine Mile Burn.
4. West Kip, East Kip & Scald Law - One to really stretch the legs - 11.9km
Starting from Threipmuir car park, follow the tarmac road as it crosses the reservoir and heads uphill on a stretch lined by trees. A right turn brings you on to a track and soon reached on the left. After passing through this continue along the track across open moorland which can be a little boggy.
You will eventually arrive at the foot of West Kip where you turn left to begin the steep and grassy ascent. It’s a case of putting one foot in front of the other and willing yourself on because when you reach the summit you are rewarded with excellent views all round. East Kip can now be seen and after a steep descent the path evens out and there are some good sheltered spots for a snack before climbing again. This summit also offers fantastic panoramic views and is far more prominent than Scald Law which is the final summit and the highest point in the Pentlands.
Once this has been reached you then descend on the other side of Scald Law, joining a path which leads down to The Howe. A left here then follows the burn, reaching a small but impressive waterfall before continuing along the glen. This path is a gently, enjoyable ramble after the previous 3 hills and eventually leads you back to the tarmac road and down to Threipmuir car park.
5. Turnhouse Hill & Carnethy Hill - One for a stunning sunset - 12.5km
There is parking at the Flotterstone Ranger Centre but this can get very busy at popular times. There are toilets available beside the building and parking donations are welcome. Flotterstone Inn can also be reached by a public service bus.
The walk follows the burn, turning left through a gate in the fence then crossing a small footbridge. A steep ascent then begins through the grass field which will test your lungs but there are some beautiful views at the top when looking back. Following this path takes you up onto Turnhouse Hill where you can see it leads on further to Carnethy Hill.
This is a very enjoyable walk and with views all around the sky begins to light up if you’re heading up here for sunset. Descend from Carnethy Hill to reach a fence which you will later return to but for now go through the gate and begin the climb up Scald Law, the third and final hill of this walk. The large flat summit is marked by a trig point and has panoramic views and if you’re lucky enough to catch a sunset here it will mesmerise you with the magical colours.
Retrace your steps to the fence then turn left and continue downhill to cross a small burn before reach a house set back from the path. Take a right here and this path leads on to a tarmac road alongside Loganlea Reservoir then eventually Glencorse Reservoir before linking back to the car park.
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