Enjoy the best of the Pentlands on this rollercoaster ridgewalk just minutes from Edinburgh, says Craig Weldon.

You want to do a hill. Your other half wants to visit Ikea. What do you do? Do both, is the answer, if you are lucky enough to live anywhere near Edinburgh. The middling altitude peaks of the Pentlands traverse offers clear paths over long rolling ridges on which it is possible eat up the miles, gain fresh air, and enjoy views across the Borders, Ochils, Fife, and the Highlands – even, on a clear day, from The Cheviot in Northumberland to the Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde.

Catch these hills on a day of sunshine and snow, and it feels like someone has chopped the top half off a Highland range and deposited it on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Vicinity to a city means you won’t ever be truly alone up here, but if you are looking to get your hill fix without a major expedition, then look no further. The Pentlands, a far better landscape than any city deserves to have on its doorstep, never fail to invigorate.

The Pentlands Traverse: route description

START/FINISH: Nine Mile Burn; NT179576 Flotterstone Inn; NT235631 | MAPS: OS Explorer 344 (1:25k), OS Landranger 66 (1:50k), Harvey Ultramap Pentland Hills (1:40k), Harvey Superwalker Pentland Hills (1:25k) | DISTANCE: 10.6km / 6.6 miles | ASCENT: 670m / 2,200ft | DURATION: 4.5 hours

1. NT179576: Alight at Nine Mile Burn on the A702. A road sign points you 200m up a side road to the Nine Mile Burn cottages, across from which a few cars can park. Enter the field to the north-east of the cottages following the right of way signpost for Monks Rig. At the corner of the field turn north-west, following the line of the stone wall, and cross a stile at the head of the field, still following the Monks Rig sign posts and sticking to the edge of the next field. At the top of the field cross a second stile, then in 50m a third stile to reach open hillside. Follow the path up past the Font Stone, the socket of an ancient cross.

2. NT175591: Continue along the path, occasionally boggy in this section, from the Font Stone to the top of the ridge, where the shapely peak of West Kip dominates the view ahead. Follow the Pentland Way post down to the junction between Cap Law and West Kip.

Pentland traverse Way marker post.JPG

Pentland Way marker post.
Credit: Craig Weldon

3. NT174604: Cross the fence at the col over a stile, or take the track 20m to your right. Follow the Pentland Way post and take the steep path up and down over the double tops of West and East Kip.

Pentlands Traverse East Kip

East Kip.
Credit: Craig Weldon

4. NT185609: Ignore the transverse path at the next col and continue east, then north-east, for Scald Law, highest of the Pentlands at 574m. The path zig zags down to another col where a broad path, the Kirk Road, crosses the ridge between Silverburn and The Howe. Cross a stile over the fence next to a gate, and continue immediately uphill for Carnethy, which boasts a large prehistoric cairn out of which people have built windbreaks. Though a few metres lower than Scald Law, this is perhaps the finest summit in the Pentlands.

Pentlands Traverse 3 Carnethy from the Kips .JPG

Carnethy from the Kips.
Credit: Craig Weldon

5. NT203619: Continue in the same direction, and at the next col go through a gate in another wall. Follow the path to Turnhouse Hill, the last summit of the day.

15 Scald Law from Carnethy.jpg

Scald Law from Carnethy.
Credit: Craig Weldon

6. NT212627: Continue north for 300m then take the main path north-east off the ridge, which then drop steeply to a stand of trees halfway down the hill. Continue east steeply downhill then through a couple of gates, which lead you to a fine well-surfaced path to lose the last of your altitude. Beware of cows in this field: they have been known to attack walkers.

7. NT228631: At the bottom of the hill cross a wooden footbridge over the Glencorse Burn and follow the tarmacked road back out to the bus stop on the A702. You will pass a large car park with public toilets and a café, and 100m further on the Flotterstone Inn, where you can get a meal and a drink while waiting for your bus.

Further information

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Stagecoach bus 101 runs from Edinburgh to Dumfries and stops at both Flotterstone and Nine Mile Burn.

TOURIST INFORMATION: Visit Pentland Hills, 0131 529 2401

Discover more walks in Scotland as mapped by The Great Outdoors’ expert contributors.