City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Rollercoaster: A Walk in the Pentlands

By Stewart Lochhead - Posted on 17 December 2011

Pentland's Rollercoaster trail in snow

The Pentland Hills Regional Park on the edge of Edinburgh is a great place for visiting throughout the year.

This hill walk includes six tops, West Kip, East Kip, South Black Hill, Scald Law, Carnethy & Turnhouse Hills.

By bus. Take the McEwans 100/101/102 service and alight at Eastside Farm road on the A702 between Eight Mile Burn and Silverburn.

By car. Park at the Flotterstone Visitor Centre just past the Flotterstone Inn on the A702.

Take the McEwans bus 100.101/102 service and alight at Eastside Farm road on the A702 between Eight Mile Burn and Silverburn.

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A free Pentland Hills Regional Park Map is available from the Park Service.

Setting Off

Beginning at the farm road junction, height 290 metres, this route to West Kip takes the waymarked  track to Balerno, west then north west to Eastside Farm.

Follow the Balerno track further west to the bealach(col) 450 metres where fine views over West Lothian reward the walker.

Striking north east up the shoulder it’s an easy climb to the narrow rocky summit of West Kip, 551 metres.

Continue north east to the bealach between West and East Kips at 500 metres and then the easy ascent to East Kip, 534 metres, followed by a simple descent to the East Kip/Scald Law bealach, 480 metres. Here you cross a quad bike (ATV) track that provides access from Eastside Farm to the sheep grazings on the northern slopes of the Kips.

Its also a good spot to take refreshments and enjoy the views north across the Forth Bridges and west into the Highlands. Ben Vorlich, above Lochearnhead can usually be seen.

Just a few metres further along the eastward track toward Scald Law take the right fork south east to South Black Hill, 563 metres. The top has a hollow stone cairn for shelter and from here the Moorfoot Hills are clearly seen to the south east and beyond, further to the south are the Glenrath Heights, 744 metres, above Peebles.

The path north then east to Scald Law is a short high moorland stretch which can be muddy. Scald Law, 579 metres, is the Pentlands highest peak and is topped by a trig point. It’s a rounded top with little of interest which signals the beginning of the first proper descent of the route down to the Scald Law/Carnethy bealach, 450 metres.

At this point its possible to shorten the hill route by descending north west by a good track to the headwaters of Loganlea Reservoir and then follow the tarred access road north east down the glen to Flotterstone via Glencorse Reservoir.

Continue eastwards up the ridge path past a small quarry on the left, over some boggy moorland and then ascend to the top of Carnethy Hill, 573 metres. Here there’s lots of boulders and a large hollow cairn shelter. The candid view over Penicuik and into the gardens of the residents is reciprocated from Penicuik whose suburbs climb up towards Carnethy Hill.

Descend northwards to the Carnethy/Turnhouse bealach, 420 metres, then north east to the final top of the route at Turnhouse Hill, 500 metres.

The view north takes in the northern Pentland range overlooking Edinburgh including Capelaw, Allermuir and Caerketton Hills. Below to the north is the attractive Glencorse with its reservoir and laid out to the east is the main path down to Flotterstone.

Just below on the south east shoulder of Turnhouse Hill is the site of the Battle of Rullion Green where the government forces defeated a Covenanter rebellion.

Allermuir Hill

Setting off northwards from the Turnhouse top the path soon swings south east  becomes steep and is damaged in parts. After crossing a burn, where muddy boots may be cleaned, the engineered path quickly meets the tarred access road following the burn downstream to Flotterstone.

Stewart Lochhead is an Edinburgh-based blogger