Up to the cloud

Location: Pentland Hills

Time: 08:30-16:00 (including stops)

Distance covered: 20km

Total height gained: 817m

Weather: Cloudy on the tops with a light but chilly breeze

Purpose: To summit West Kip, East Kip, Scald Law, Carnethy Hill and Turnhouse Hill

Map used: Harvey Maps – The Pentland Hills 1:25000

This walk is part of us working through the Cicerone Guide: Walking in The Pentland Hills. This is walk 10 – Pentland Classic

Setting off

We parked at Threipmuir Car Park and headed west. Passing Red Moss Nature Reserve we headed on up the tarmac of Beech Avenue.

At the top of Beech Avenue there are options east and west. West takes you past Bavelaw Castle, a 16th century house that was rumoured to be used as a hunting lodge by Mary Queen of Scots and James IV.

We decided to turn East and head out onto the open land and on to the path that takes you south to pass Hare Hill (see BLOG for information on Hare Hill)


The Pentland’s Ridge

After passing through the boundary gate at Hare Hill the views open up along the Glen and you can usually see the full ridge in front of you. Today we were not so lucky. The cloud that was promised placed a curtain over the hills. That being said, even the clouds cant hide the beauty that is The Pentland hills.

West Kip (551m)

The sweeping path leads a steady ascent to the bottom of the first hill of the day, West Kip. West Kip is a short sharp hill. You only ascend 101m but the thighs and lungs can certainly feel the impact (especially when recovering from Covid). At a height of 551m it is twinned with it’s polar sister, East Kip.

East Kip (534m)

The clouds offered us occasional reprieve and we were able to take in some of the views of the open land around. The journey on to East Kip only involves a short 500m trip to a slightly smaller summit of 534m.

Whilst East and West Kip are twinned, they couldn’t be more different. East Kip has it’s smooth grassy rolling top whilst West Kip is a rugged, rocky top that would need careful footing in wintery or wet conditions. In fact the word Kip is translated as sharp pointed hill.

Once East Kip is summitted it is then descended to the bealach (narrow mountain pass) at Cross Sward. At Cross Sward there are a few escape routes if you have decided you have had enough and want to get off the hills quickly.

South Black Hill (563m)

If continuing you can either stay on the path and begin the gradual ascent to Scald Law or, as we did, you can head south east to the stone shelter on South Black Hill (563m). It wouldn’t be the first time I have hunkered down behind the shelter for a cup of tea whilst hiding from the Pentland Gales.

We had stopped to chat to a fellow walker just before the top of SBH. A chat which ended up lasting about 20 minutes. Sharing thoughts on volunteering. wildlife and generally chewing the fat. Having cooled down we decided to forego the stone shelter cuppa and head on up to Scald Law.

Scald Law (579m)

At 579m Scald Law holds the prize of being the highest summit of all the Pentland Hills. Scald Law is translated into Scabbed Hill in Scots, referring to the smears of scree in it’s eastern corries. The summit of Scald Law is fairly flat with a trig point to mark the true summit. Quite often you are rewarded with both amazing views and gusty winds. We had neither today so quickly began the descent to the bealach between Scald Law and Carnethy Hill.

We stopped at the bealach, also know as Old Kirk Road, for some much needed lunch. It is known as the Old Kirk Road as the people of Loganlee would use it every Sunday to make the journey to Penicuik and back.

This bealach is also an opportunity to drop down either north or west of you have decided not to continue with the ridge.

Carnethy Hill (573m)

After  the descent off Scald Law it is a somewhat refreshing site to see the gentle terraces that summit Carnethy Hill. This gives great opportunity to rest the calves and thighs on the ascent.

The origins of it’s name are questionable and cause many a debate. Some say it is named after the Carnethy 5 hill race. Some say it is named after the running club. The fact that the Pentlands were formed over 430 million years ago, makes me questions the more recent naming!

There are plenty of stone shelters at the top of Carnethy Hill if you wish to take a break. Instead we moved on to our final summit of the day, Turnhouse Hill.

Turnhouse Hill (506m)

The smallest summit of the day brings a welcome sight to tired legs. Once summitted the 2.5km descent to the Glen takes some time and care on the muddy terraces, but sometimes you are rewarded by the simplest things nature can offer. I particularly love the windswept ;arch tress that clearly indicate the dominant westerly wind. I had taken a picture but it wasn’t clear enough to use.

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The return journey

From the foot of Turnhouse Hill the walk back to Threipmuir is around 7km so make sure you save some energy!

Before reaching the top of Maiden’s Cleugh you are rewarded with some key points of interest:

  • The Flotterstone Inn
  • The filter beds
  • Glen Cottage
  • Glencorse waterfall
  • The view up Glencorse reservoir which shows the route you have walked

Then you begin the trudge along Maiden’s Cleugh. At the top of Maiden’s Cleugh you can see your final goal in the distance (with really good eyesight or binoculars) 🙂

On the way you will pass Harlaw Reservoir Visitor Centre, although the sign on the door says it is closed indefinitely due to problems with the toilets. There are however 6 portaloos outside if you need!

Then a lovely walk alongside first Harlaw and then Threipmuir reservoirs, brings you nicely back to the car park.

This truly is a Pentland’s Classic!

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