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Craiglockhart Hill(s)

Craiglockhart Hill(s)

Postby nigheandonn » Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:02 pm

Date walked: 19/07/2020

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There's a point on the way down to Slateford where the little Craiglockhart hills rising in front of you look more appealing than anything that you might find further on, and when I didn't want too epic a walk on Sunday I went off to climb them just because of that - it was only afterwards that I realised I'd now climbed five of Edinburgh's seven hills in lockdown (if you're not too fussy about the top of the castle - I was wandering about the esplanade looking at the statues) and might as well complete the set.

The start was the now-familiar walk down to where the river and canal cross - the visitor centre was active after a fashion, selling hot drinks from a window, although no one seemed to be taking up this opportunity.

I hadn't really stopped to look at the sculpture opposite the entrance before, but I've been to all these places now, so appreciated it.

Water of Leith sculpture

I had thought about briefly following the canal, but climbing up to it and then finding a way out again seemed like more trouble than it was worth - but of course I still had to climb the same height on the road, curving through the houses to pass one monument to a nearby plane crash and come out on the main road by another to Wilfred Owen's war poetry, somewhere near the Craiglockhart sports centre.

The pond is tucked in behind another row of houses, a surprisingly large expanse once you've found it.

Craiglockhart pond

A board here explained some of the history of the area, with the ponds used for boating in summer and curling and skating in winter and the nearby hydropathic hotel used as a hospital during WW1, and tennis becoming popular later.

A path zigzags up to join a broader path running behind back fences, one of which a dog was doing its best to tunnel under - I thought I'd gone too far along and missed a way up, but it turned out to be further on than I expected, path then steps and then an open space which led to a signpost which told me how to get to the top of the hill.

Open space

The summit is a lovely open space, and although it's the lower of the two hills the views are very good. The side towards Wester Craiglockhart hill and the Pentlands is golf course, and near the fence were my first true bluebells of the year.


The other side looks over trees to Corstorphine Hill and Fife.

Fife view

The summit itself is marked by a bench, unusually deep from front to back and surprisingly comfortable to sit on.

East Craiglockhart summit

Rather than retracing my steps I had another go at joining the WH route, which I had been going round backwards from the start and then abandoned in favour of the signpost, wandering down the other side until I found a gap in the wall to go through.

Gap in the wall

A shady woodland path leads along the outside of another wall, passing above an old house all boarded up, and eventually curving round to lead back to the clearing with the signpost. I'd been in three of the four directions by now, either leaving or arriving, so chose the fourth, indicated as Glenlockhart Road, which did seem to be right when I thought about it.

Further down I had a choice of up to the left and down to the right - I knew that I was going down, so went right, steeply down steps.

Down the steps

This brought me along the side of the indoor tennis courts, but then brought me back to the pond, where I knew I didn't really want to be - this end had all the swans and ducks, at least.

Back at the pond

The path along this side brought me round the other side of the tennis courts, and I thought I was heading up to the road, but when I looked at the map I realised that I really had to head back the way I'd come - past the indoor courts again, and up the steps, and along the uphill path, to come down again on Glenlockhart Road, where an elderly lady nearly got herself run over dashing across the road to ask me for directions, which seemed rather ironic.

I wasn't entirely sure of the next step, but it seemed that instead of heading into the university grounds I had to follow the road along, and although the path turned out to be through a dilapidated looking gate, it was quite clear when I got there, and had possibly the tallest foxgloves I've ever seen.

Tall foxgloves

The path led round the foot of the hill, then began to climb over the end, where another path led up towards the summit, coming up into the open with a view back towards the first hill, with Arthur's Seat lurking behind.

Arthur's Seat in sight

This is a much smaller summit, although it's the higher one and has the trig point - it reminded me of the summit of the Braid Hills, but on an even smaller scale.

Ochil view

The Ochils were posing very well with the bridges in front of them, and the higher hills behind faint in the haze.

West Craiglockhart summit

The official instructions told me to retreat the way I'd come up, but there obviously was a path down the other side, plunging between the gorse bushes - it was a bit loose in places, and fairly steep, but it was fine, although I turned the wrong way at the bottom and ended up entangled in another patch of the golf course, before retracing my steps to follow the track along the back of the university.

The way down

If I had kept to my plan of not making this too epic I would have gone home the same way as I had come, but that was unexciting and instead I came up with a plan to go and find the little peninsula with Colinton church which I had missed out when following the river the week before - down the long road past the barracks to Colinton village, and then down a long flight of steps to the group of houses at river level, and over the bridge.

Colinton steps

The church building itself is fairly new, but the site is old - a thousand years or so old, with the first church on the site founded around 1095.

Colinton church

This is RLS country, as his maternal grandfather was minister of the church when he was a child, and there is a statue of him outside the church gate, as well as poetry on various walls - which explains the tunnel, I suppose.
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