The Pentland Hills lie just past the city boundary on the south side of Edinburgh and are a popular place for people of the city to walk, get fresh air, and enjoy some time out of town at the weekends. This week a friend and I decided to do just that and on Saturday afternoon we set out on a small walk. I must say, like many other things on my doorstep, I haven’t spent a lot of time up there until now but I was pleasantly surprised and, after our trip, hope to be a regular visitor to these hills.
The historic village of Swanston was where we left the car and, ambling up through some trees were really surprised to come across a conservation village consisting of a little village square and a number of very old tiny cottages with thatched rooves. Thatching is not something you see very often in Scotland so it came as a great surprise. The square consisted of slightly younger looking homes but still tiny. It looked very quaint and well worth a visit. I have not investigated their history yet but here is a link to a little more about them.
Walking up above Swanston golf club we veered to the west with a plan of walking a loop and coming down eventually above the Ski slopes that lie on the north side of the hills. The first part of the walk consisted of tracks used to access the fields, after which we continued upon a well-trodden path to the saddle. The views were just spectacular seeing past North Berwick to the East and up toward the Ochil Hills in the west, the expanse of space was quite amazing.
This was the first time for a while I had been up into the hills and I really enjoyed it but now I remembered how difficult I find it. Those who know me understand that balance is not my strong point so, on uneven ground, I do struggle a little. We went over some bogs and that is difficult because there is often nothing firm to stand on which knocks my balance off. Once we reached the saddle and walked over the tops I found that fine and enjoyable. On solid ground with fantastic views, what’s not to like?
Descending for me, and I imagine for a lot of people, is the most difficult part of the walk. It requires a lot of balance. The path was very icy and slippery so I held onto my friend’s rucksack and we walked very slowly at one point until we got down onto a better path. I learned that I should take walking poles with me as they would be a great help. I need to try to stick to paths. We were wading through heather for a while and that was hard going. None the less it was a fantastic day and really put me in the mood for hill walking again.