The Pentland Hills is a stunning range on small-ish hills that span roughly 20 miles to the South-West of Edinburgh. The land has been shaped over millions of years by continents joining, volcanic eruptions and glaciers, with the remaining rocks often crafted into drystane dykes. They not only frame the views, but provide shelter for the flora and fauna of The Pentland Hills. Looking to do something outdoorsy, but not to strenuous, The Pentland Hills is the perfect day trip. About 30 minutes away from Edinburgh city centre by bus, it’s hard to believe that such beautiful landscapes are not far from the capital. But hey, that’s Scotland for you!
So after my 12 noon finish from work one Monday, my friend and I caught the train to Edinburgh to meet her other friend. Then off we went to The Pentland Hills. As I mentioned before, the are is pretty big, covering an area of 35 m². This means there will be many entrances you can use, so really which ever suits best. You can check out their website for more information regarding directions.
And We’re Off
After checking the map at the little cafe/information centre, we decided on a route. It was nearing Autumn, and in Scotland that means when the sun sets, you blink and you miss it. Wanting to avoid getting stuck out in the middle of nowhere in the dark, we picked a smaller route that has some cool sights, but basically just loops round and you back at the start.
We set off from Flotterstone Information Centre in Penicuik and followed the path alongside the Glencorse Burn, which eventually opens up to the Glencorse Reservoir. About 20 m into the reservoir lie the submerged remains of St Catherine’s Chapel which, according to the story, was founded as a result of a royal deer hunt. King Robert the Bruce and Sir William St Clair took part in a hunt for a white deer in the Pentland Hills along with Sir Williams two dogs. The dogs finally managed to catch the deer and so Sir William built the chapel so celebrate. I guess. Rich old men and their strange ways. In 1820 the reservoir was formed and now provides drinking water to the city of Edinburgh.
The Perfect Day For It
It was a dull, grey day. But it was reasonably warm and the air was fresh. Perfect conditions for a walk in nature in my opinion. With no specific plan in mind, we just kept following the path to see what we came across. We encountered many horses, highland cows and sheep. The sheep were bold as brass and just roaming around freely. Though they did get a bit skittish when we were blocking their path across to the other hill. I had no prior knowledge of The Pentland Hills, so it was pretty cool to see all the animals just kicking about, doing their own thing. The Pentland Hills is a mixture of public land and private farms. There are also areas used for sport shooting which is not cool.
After passing Loganlee Reservoir, we made it as far as the Howe (the house seen above) and then turned back. It was now nearing 4pm and the sun would start setting soon. Going back the way we came, and seeing the same route as the sky was getting darker was pretty eerie. I defintely wouldn’t want to be caught out there at night time.
Chasing the Sunset
By the time we made it back to Flotterstone the sun was almost gone and had turned the sky a beautiful bright pink. I was unfortunate far too weary to take my phone out of my pocket, so in it’s place I offer you a picture of a swan swimming about the Glencorse Reservoir as the sun sets.
As we were pretty much still in the middle of nowhere, even after we got out of the Pentland Hills, none of our phones had service. Luckily there was a little pub just at the entrance of the trail. The barman was nice enough to phone us a taxi. After a 20 minute drive back into the city, we settled into Bread Meats Bread and had the absolute best burgers of my life!
If you are looking for a nice day out from Glasgow or Edinburgh, I would highly suggest the Pentland Hills. I can only imagine how beautiful they are in summer!
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