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Pentland wanderings

PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2021 9:37 pm
by nigheandonn
The Pentlands are more or less the only hills I've been in in the past year, and although I didn't write it up as I went along I eventually decided that I did want a record, as I've been around more than just my usual few favourite spots.

Allermuir after exile
31st May

I'd actually had my eye on Allermuir from the start of lockdown - if you could, theoretically, walk as far as you liked as long as you started and ended at home, then it wasn't out of reach - but as things turned out I ended up leaving it until I could meet L there - she'd been roaming the Pentlands all along, much to my envy.

So I figured out the closest thing to a straight line towards the hill, which was an interesting challenge in its own right - down to Wester Hailes, a kind of zigzag past the canal, and on again to Colinton and an odd switchback bit at the river - and we met at the Bonaly carpark to make our way on up.

Across the river

L was the path expert here, and took me shooting off sideways across the slopes of White Hill, with a view of the Forth behaving quite oddly, and up to a gate with the first view of Allermuir really looking like a hill ahead - a wonderful sight after so long in exile.

Allermuir ahead

We were heading up towards the path over the shoulder of Capelaw, but decided for the moment to stick to a smaller path which ran absolutely straight by the ruined wall - I think it might have been one of the very few paths on L's map which she hadn't tried yet. At the gate higher up the two paths joined and we were on a much more worn stretch - the odd clouds were still sitting on the Forth behind us, but had moved along a bit to leave more than the tips of the Fife hills in view.

Clouds in the firth

From here we worked our way across Capelaw - I could see the gate where I usually came in down behind us - and along towards the stile where you get the view right down the middle of the hills - it was lovely to be back in any hills, but I do specially like this spot.

Valley view

The top was relatively busy, and we picked a spot a bit below it on the Moorfoots side for cake and a chat, before going right up. L said that there was only one way down that she could cope with, and so we headed down on the other side, passing a man who was trying to hug one of the highland cows, which didn't seem like a very good idea, and slanting down below the dramatic view of the crags.

Crags above

I'd been offered a route with gorse bushes or a route without, but the narrow bit between the bushes turned out to be very brief - and the gorse was useful to the lambs who were trying to get out of the sun.

Lambs in the shade

Having slanted too far over we were working our way back again by now, along towards Dreghorn, where I was sent off on a route that would bring me out by Bonaly school and my road home, and L turned for home the other way.


Round the reservoirs
23rd July

Another walk with L, this time when I had a few days off in the summer, didn't really take us to any hills - we met at Bonaly again, surprised to find so few people there until we remembered that it was Thursday, and made our way along below Torduff Hill towards the two reservoirs, crossing the dam and making the a little detour to the other side of the house to see an inscription L thought I would appreciate.

This reservoir is quite an odd shape - broad and obviously artificial at the dam end, but quite dramatic as it narrows towards the other.

Torduff reservoir

She was about to go on holiday, and we wandered along the track by the first reservoir talking - it was raspberry time, and we found quite a few as we went.

The end of the reservoir turns a corner and runs on for a bit as un unexpectedly narrow stretch, and we had a decision to make - uphill, or on around the second reservoir.

The narrow stretch

We decided on Clubbiedean, which is less dramatically shaped, but has a lovely stretch coming back along the far bank where a much narrower path runs through trees.

Clubbiedean reservoir

This time when we came back to the gap in between we did head uphill - there turned out to be a lot more uphill than I expected in the route L had chosen, and l felt that I had been somehow missold the walk. On the upside, as we got higher more of a view along the ridge was revealed.


This all brought us eventually up to Bonaly reservoir, our third of the day.

Bonaly reservoir

The reason for all this uphill was at L had accidentally left all the cake at her house and we had to get there to eat it, but it was hard going, and even after the reservoir, when I was promised no more uphill, there was one more bit!

We had a better view of the Forth than on the first Allermuir trip, however, and this stretch gave a wonderful view over to the three bridges.

Bridges view

The cake was worth it in the end, and even worth the longer walk home, but it wasn't quite the gentler day I had been expecting...


A Capelaw diversion
31st July

I set off for Allermuir again towards the end of July, somehow managing this time to come through the elusive Polofields, which I'd seen from above but had no idea how to reach from the city side. From the houses a little path winds along by a burn to an underpass, and another path crossed a field and vanished, so that I got myself quite entangled in the wood above it before I found my way out and into a better behaved wood with a path through it, which made a nice shady spot to eat my lunch - it was ridiculously hot, one of those dried up days.

Wood with path

The path through the woods brought me out at a slightly confusing place a bit above the start of the main Allermuir track, so that I had to head down past a triangular wood before I could begin toiling my way up again - hard work, but a deer of some kind was hiding in the bracken above the path, and there were definite compensations.

Deer in the bracken

I had every intention of heading up Allermuir, but at the stile with the view I suddenly changed my mind - it wasn't very long since I'd been there, and Capelaw on the other side was quieter and more enticing, if less shapely. I do like the twisted posts on top, although it's a shame that they don't quite mark the summit.

Capelaw with twisty posts

Having come this far over, new opportunities opened up - there was no reason why I shouldn't go home via Currie, and L had been talking about the Poet's Glen, which wasn't particularly out of the way. The path over the top of Capelaw heads down on the central valley side, meeting the end of Phantom's Cleugh and starting to skirt around Harbour Hill, where I left it to head over to a tiny ruin and cut the corner into Maiden's Cleugh.

Kirkton ruin

A red path leads up through the valley here - pretty, but all very hot and dry, and the spring marked on the map was no use. Near the top of the path I eventually found a tiny stream running fast, and too young to have anything much lying in it, which was a great relief.

Red Path

Once over the watershed the path starts to slant over towards Harlaw, but another path cuts off to the right, passing some odd marks in the ground which are apparently the remains of a rifle range. A long straight track then leads down towards the road, still roughly cobbled, and lined with trees on one side.

This comes out at the top of the road leading down towards Currie kirk, but the Poet's Glen is the next path again, signposted from the top. It was pretty enough, but not exactly scenic - mostly there was just a lot of green to be seen, and when I did manage to get down to the burn, which was generally running far below, I then ended up on a path which turned me out along the edge of a field instead.

Poet's Glen

From the bottom of the glen I had to turn back along the next little road down to come out above the kirk again - a nice view down past the backs of the old houses which line the graveyard. I was now on a very different route home from the one I'd taken out - across the road at Currie to head right down the long road past Riccarton and meet the canal in quite a different place, where for some reason it was bright green.


Allermuir alone
20th September

If I walk from home, in proper lockdown fashion, there are two main routes south - one which eventually comes out where the canal and river cross at Slateford, and one down towards the river at Colinton. I was aiming for one and thinking about the other, and realised what I'd done when the hills at Craiglockhart loomed up ahead - then tried to cut back towards Kingsknowe station, missed a turning, and suddenly fell over a path to the canal, which in fact took me on to Craiglockhart Dell - a nice accident, that.

It also took me back through the tunnel, where the poem is now finished - the last time I was there it was missing the first two lines, as they seemed to have started from the end.

The first line

From there I could get up to Colinton village and through Polofields, and this time I had worked out where I'd gone wrong - right across the the far corner of the field, where a different gate led me past a patch of woodland which the army had closed off for some reason, and directly onto the main Allermuir track. It wasn't as hot or as hard work as the previous visit, but the strange storm seemed to have washed lumps out of the track.

Damaged track

From the stile I wandered along a bit so that I could sit down by the edge of the track with a view right out over the central valley. From here I often look to the Kips and pretend I'm in the highlands - the scale is wrong but the shapes are fine - but I'd been reading quite a lot about the Welsh hills, and the green on the other side seemed right for pretending I was in Wales instead.

Green valley

I had meant to go back along and up Allermuir the usual way, but having come so far it suddenly occurred to me that I might as well keep on and turn back by the slightly longer path by the wall, which I couldn't remember having done before. This side is heather hill, fading from purple to brown.

The path by the wall

The summit wasn't quite as quiet as this picture makes it look, but the hills did seem to be a bit emptier now that it was turning towards autumn.

Allermuir summit

I went back down by the more direct route, and onto the path over the shoulder of Capelaw and down towards Bonaly reservoir - my usual way up, although L's least favourite because the track below the reservoir is so stony and hard on your feet, which is true. The colours of the little valley alongside were quite a good distraction, though, and at least it's direct.

Autumn beginning

That took me down past the car parks, and home by the way I had intended to come, the not very straight straightest line.

Re: Pentland wanderings

PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2021 3:51 pm
by past my sell by date
Nice to see pictures of Poets Glen, which I discovered recently. Dropped off at Silverburn - went up South Black hill, over Scald Law and through Green Cleugh to Harlaw. Rather a long road bit after that, but found path saying Poets Glen so down to water of Leith and back to Colinton. Had meant to go over more hills, but found I'd forgotten to include either food or water in my rucksack - Doh! :lol: :lol: :lol: