A windy Pentlands wander

Hills: Scald Law (via Turnhouse Hill and Carnethy Hill).
Marilyns: Scald Law
When: 1 March 2017
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Weather: clear but windy on the tops. Snow threatened but in the end didn’t arrive.
Bog factor: overall pretty low
Navigational embarrassment factor: 1 (not mine)
Pre walk drink: Edinburgh Gin (the previous evening)
Post walk drink: various single malts

Those of you that read my blog will know that usually something goes wrong whenever I decide to do a walk. This can often be weather related – for instance the recent deluge in the Lake District not helped by realising that my waterproofs were not fit for purpose (replacements are on order as I type!). If the weather does not go wrong then something else generally will – for instance a transport debacle of some sort which has over the years included missed flights, missed trains, broken down trains, car breakdowns, driving into a ditch in Snowdonia (thankfully managing to get out) and most recently having an utterly hellish journey thanks to Storm Doris meaning my walk for the day was a quick 2 hour blast up Dodd rather than anything more ambitious (due to utter knackeredness). However simply by the law of averages there had to be a walk where nothing went wrong and this one seems to be it!

Stuart and I were staying in Edinburgh for a week in an apartment. The week was mostly about visiting friends and family and chilling out (as well as – in Stuart’s case – going to the rugby) however on a previous jaunt (in less than clement weather) the Pentlands had looked to have some good walking so I hatched a plan to grab a few hours walking and take in the highest point. The forecast for 1st March was pretty good, although windy. Having had a few glasses of wine the previous night (not to mention a couple of gins due to a rather good visit to the Edinburgh Gin Distillery- recommended) an early start was not really an option but the forecast looked decent all day.

I got going from the apartment at about 10.30 and was parked up at Flotterstone shortly before 11 having had a really quick journey round the bypass. I’d been a bit worried about finding a parking space as this is a popular walk and there have also been occasions where a walk has been derailed by failing to park, however I got one fairly easily and was geared up and off shortly after 11. 5 minutes later I was back at the car having had a burst of paranoia about whether I had locked it. Checked it several times and finally put my keys back in my pocket and headed off up the clearly marked paths.

This is obviously a popular walk; the paths are generally good and the route pretty obvious. The initial slog up Turnhouse Hill was pretty hard work, whether due to the gradient (steepish but not that bad) or the gin the previous night I wasn’t totally sure. I was pretty warm and wasn’t sure whether the padded jacket and non-padded trouser combo was the right one (specifically the padded jacket). On hitting the ridge the views really started to open out – however the wind hit with a vengeance and my clothing choice of padded jacket was starting to seem right and of non-padded trousers starting to seem totally wrong. Looking at my last blog post the wrong trousers seems to be becoming a theme although in this case due to a lack of padding rather than waterproofing!

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Once on the ridge, there is a short drop before what looked like a pretty steep ascent to Carnethy Hill, which had a fair bit of snow on it. I had brought microspikes but not bothered with my crampons as I hadn’t thought they would be needed. The ascent did look very steep… fortunately it turned out to be nowhere near as bad as it looked and the snow/ ice was largely avoidable with the bits that weren’t not posing any issues. The top of Carnethy Hill boasts some excellent views and a large cairn and the hill is apparently a HuMP, not that I’m counting those!

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The summit also boasted 2 Scottish blokes (without a map) who had decided they didn’t fancy going back the way they had come and asked if I knew a different way off, so I told them that you could drop off at the bealach between Carnethy and Scald Law and walk back by the lochs, the route I intended to take after Scald Law. Showed them the map and they headed off.. then promptly asked the next person we ran into (another Scottish bloke) the same question. Er, I can actually navigate despite being female and English! The 3 of us arrived at the bealach at the same time and they asked what I was doing, so I said I was going on to the next hill then going back via the reservoirs, as I wanted to get to the highest point of the Pentlands. Bloke one said ‘isn’t the hill we were just on the highest point’? No, Scald Law is a few metres higher… they decided against and headed off downwards.

I ploughed on up the final bit of ascent of Scald Law, which again looked a lot steeper than it was. There was clearly some nasty weather further south but other than the wind none of it hit me, though given the trouser choice I was not going to hang about – I was fine so long as I kept moving but if I stopped to take a photo my legs felt cold quite quickly. The views from the summit trig were excellent so it was worth taking a few photos but any idea of a lunch stop had been comprehensively binned.

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I dropped down to the bealach, retracing my steps and then took the path which leads down to Loganlee and then Glencorse reservoirs. The path was pretty decent although steep in parts though never anything tricky and once I got back on the flat I had about 3 ½ miles of flat walking to get back to the car. In some ways this was probably the best bit of the walk; the reservoirs are actually very pretty, the sun had come out and there is amongst other points of interest an absolutely idyllic little harbour. I also saw a heron although completely failed to get anything resembling a decent photo!

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By the time I got back to the car the walk had taken about 4 hours. Drove back to the apartment and got changed before heading in to Edinburgh centre to meet Stuart; the post walk drinks were a selection of Islay single malts in the Albannach whisky bar. Made a change from Malbec!

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All in all a very nice walk for a half day, although I imagine parking could be an issue on a nice day at the weekend – Lothian Buses do run a service that goes to Flotterstone though so if timed right a post walk drink could be had directly after getting off the hill…

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3 thoughts on “A windy Pentlands wander

  1. You didn’t have good or drink in the Flotterstone? It was a truly great pub when we were there (admittedly a lot of years ago). You also missed out the best 2 hills – East and West Kip – very easy to add on and just a bit longer walk back down the valley. They were my favourites. Just have the northern hills of those to do now.

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    • Had thought about extending the walk but it was bloody cold and I was conscious of timing as meeting Stuart later on. Similarly re pub stop and was driving.. I guess neither the hills or the pub are going anywhere though!

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