A perfect spring walk – the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh

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A bright snowy morning in the Pentland Hills

We are finally starting to get out walking more regularly again and on Monday we drove over to the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh.  A bit like the Ochil Hills which we visited the other week, these small hills make an excellent walk without being a major expedition.  That said, also like the Ochils, you can still make a good long walk …..and as we found, end up stomping back to the car in the dark!

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Snow line on the Pentland Hills

We had decided to go to the Pentland Hills as the forecasts had suggested that there would be much more cloud in the west than over in the sunny east ….and we fancied a bit of sun even if it was a bit further to drive than we’d planned.  It was however a very beautiful drive over as by the time we had reached the M74 there was a covering of fresh snow lying everywhere.  It wasn’t much and in the bright and surprisingly warm early morning sun it was melting back quite quickly ….but it looked lovely.

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Keith Salmon on Carnethy Hill

A fairly leisurely start meant that we only set out on our walk at around 10.30 am and we hadn’t really planned exactly where we were going to go ….we’d head up onto the ridge, go as far as Carnethy Hill and then decide what to do from there on.  It’s always a steep little pull up onto the first in the long line of hills but the views as always were spectacular, especially with the snow.  Nita could see out to the Bass Rock apparently although of course, I missed out on this and instead enjoyed the hills close to me.  By the time we were up onto the first hill, the snow had already melted back on most of the south facing slopes and as we made our way up Carnethy Hill and looked back there was a very impressive and very distinct line between the bright green on one side of the ridge and the white of the snow on the north facing slopes…..it was very impressive.

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Approaching West Kip

At the summit of Carnethy Hill it was time to decide what to do with the rest of our day.  We sat down close to the snow / grass divide and ate our lunch in warm sunshine and with little more than a slight breeze.  The ridge continued ahead over Scald Law, South Black Hill, East Kip and onto West Kip.  We’d visited all of these in the past, except West Kip and so it seemed the perfect destination.

As you know, we don’t move very fast these days and time was already getting on by the time we’d finished our picnic in the sun on Carnethy Hill.   We decided therefore to miss out the summit of South Black Hill and make directly for East and West Kip once we’d passed the summit of Scald Law.

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Nita at the summit of West Kip

There is a short sharp pull up onto the summits of both these hills and when we finally reached the top of West Kip I have to say, that my legs were starting to complain a bit!  But it was so worth while …..it is quite a lofty little summit with the ground falling away steeply on both sides and with the snow still lying on the ground at the top and on it’s northern facing slopes, well, it looked really wonderful.  It certainly looked much grander than I’d expected.  The question now of course, was, which way back.

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Evening reflections, the Pentland Hills

It was now about 16.00 and so a short sharp descent down the snowy slopes seemed to be the answer, and once the level ground had been reached, it was a simple case of following a track back to the start of the wee road that leads back to the car park past the two reservoirs.  It was quite a long way all the same and we were delayed en-route as we just had to stop and admire the stunning reflections on the surface of the reservoirs.  We ended up walking the last mile or so back in increasingly poor light and eventually almost complete darkness…..perhaps we should have started a little earlier in the morning, but it meant a little added mobility training that I hadn’t banked on!  Once again though, we’d had a wonderful day in these small hills and for the first time this year I felt that I’d finally stretched my legs properly.

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