After 5 days on exped at Fort William I had a day in Edinburgh before heading down to the Lake District for the weekend. I’d been looking at getting onto the Pentland Hills on my last visit to Edinburgh but never managed it. Having spent the day catching up with friends and searching and eventually finding someone who could do a small spot of welding on my car, the weather was suggesting a beautiful evening so I headed to the car park at Flotterstone on the A702, 5 minutes from the Edinburgh City bypass. I hadn’t put a alert out as I wasn’t really sure if or when I’d be able to get up to the hills so this was to be on a bit of a wing and a prayer.
On a weekend this carpark can be heaving, today there was only half a dozen cars parked up. A quick change, a bite to eat and a check of the rucksack and off I went. From Flotterstone to Scald Law is a climb to Turnhouse Hill then a nice ridge walk over Carnethy Hill and then on to Scald Law (GM/SS-125), about 70 minutes from the car park. The summit is broad and grassy and I was able to pick out the Wallace monument up near Stirling, I chose to set up the beam a few meters north of the trig point. 6 QSO’s on 2m FM (from Greenock in the west to Berwick in the east) and one very squashed loaf of Jamaican ginger cake later I was packing away the kit and chatting to a local resident of Pencuik who was curious as to what I was doing.
Descending back to the col between Scald Law and Carnethy Hill and then north west to the top of Loganlea reservoir, stopping briefly to chat with a chap training for the 3 peaks. Walking down the tarmac to Glencorse reservoir passing many fishermen and being past by a few mountain bikers. But there was still plenty of daylight left so I decided that the plan to also activate Allermuir Hill (GM/SS-171) was still on (this had been dependant on how long I had spent on Scald Law).
Taking the signposted path from the northern most point of the reservoir and almost immeadiately taking a grassy track north to Capelaw Hill. From the summit of Capelaw hill I was able to see the sun low in the sky and reflected in the Firth of Forth. Walking on to the summit of Allermuir Hill I was continuously looking to my left to admire the sunset as the sun & sky were getting increasingly red. This was to be one of the best sunsets I’ve seen in a long time.
Reaching the summit I quickly set up the beam using the hole in the trig point and setting the 817 up using the trig point as a mini table – at this time of evening there was no one else on the summit. So I was able to stand up at the trig point, play radio and watch an amazing red sunset. But the contacts on 2m FM weren’t so easy this time – probably not helped by the late hour. As the sun set and darkness almost complete I had 3 QSO’s and was resigned to not qualifying the activation – given the sunset I’d seen the evening was still a good one, when at the last minute I stumbled across a couple of local stations who were kind enough to allow me to interrupt them for 2 contacts to qualify the summit – magic!
Pulling out my headtorch as it was now nice & dark I quickly packed up and took one last look around to check I hadn’t forgotten anything and set of to run back down the the car. After the initial descent of the summit I joined a nice track taking me most of the way back to the car although I’m sure a few sheep were surprised to see an idiot appearing out of the darkness running towards them with a headtorch and a “fishing pole”. I’ve decided that the hinge on my headtorch needs tightening as the beam kept dropping to my feet rather than a few feet in-front of me where I wanted it. 30 minutes saw me back to the car and an empty carpark. A quick drive back into Edinburgh and a few drinks at a friends party beckoned.
Many thanks to the stations worked.
In reply to M3WJZ:
Many thanks for the excellent report Iain. I will put these summits on my list of possible activation targets for when I am up in Northumberland - could be combined with a shopping sortie in Edinburgh for the XYL.
In reply to G4OIG:
They’re both nice walks. Incredibly popular so don’t do them if you want solitude! If you do Scald Law from its obvious start point you climb 298m for 2 points and if you do the same for Allermuir you climb 301m for 1 point. Just one of those things!
In reply to MM0FMF:
Ah, I’ve just noticed Black Hill lurking nearby - seems like the stay in the hills could exceed the XYL’s shopping trip. Or is that just impossible?
In reply to G4OIG:
Black Hill is nice. I prefer it to both Scald Law and Allermuir as there are no obvious paths from ground level to the summit and so it is often deserted when the others are busy. There is a track to the summit but it starts in a locked farmyard at Logan House so there is some rough ground bashing needed. I’ve done it from the Loganlea Reservoir side going straight up near Logan House till I hit the track and following it to the summit. Also I’ve done it from Threipmuir Reservoir by Bavelaw Castle. Again there’s no obvious path to the summit although there are lots of paths around the base.
There’s no parking by Loganlea nor driving on the road. You need a permit but what they would do should you ignore that I don’t know. That means you have to park at the Ranger Centre or by the Flotterstone pub which does excellent food. I used to work for a company based on the Bush estate nearby and lunch in the Flotterstone did my waist no good at all. Parking at Threipmuir is available but also popular.
A route for both Black Hill and Scald Law would be to park at Threipmuir, not the Ranger Centre but the other car park, walk along the path to the SW ridge on Black Hill, straight up through the heather (that’s why they call it Black Hill), activate that, straight down the S side to Loganlea, around the road to the path, up to the col and up to Scald Law. Activate that and appreciate one of the oldest trig points in GM (sorry being sad) then down the path and back along through the glen to the car park. The climbing is easy really and there’s not too much walking and you can pick up 10pts in the Winter. Only problems being WX as a well timed arrival would leave you plenty of daylight to do both.
Have you driven in Edinburgh recently? Avoid it at all costs! Personally unless you are staying in the city I would dump the XYL just off the ring road and provide her with enough cash to get cab into and out of the city. That will probably cost you less than the petrol you’ll waste going nowhere fast!
In reply to MM0FMF:
Thanks for all the info Andy - much appreciated. I was thinking of a 3 summit walk, maybe parked up where Iain started and doing a round, maybe Scald Law, Black Hill, Allermuir in that order or the reverse. A day’s venture - hence why I wondered whether it would last longer than the XYL’s shopping trip. Of course asking her to take the car into Edinburgh would guarantee that I would complete my task first!
Last in Edinburgh about 5 years ago. Parked about 1 mile and a bit off the main shopping area and walked in. I know when it is daft to venture into the the deepest urban jungle…
In reply to G4OIG:
There’s a park and ride on the west of the city just about 1/4mile off the city bypass on the A71. I think the buses run every 15mins and a full day parking and return bus fare is a few quid. The buses run right to the city centre. You could drop your beloved (or the XYL depending which one is accompanying you) at the park and ride and then nip off around the ring road! It’s less than 15 minutes to the Flotterstone car park from the park and ride.
Not sure when you want to do this Gerald but if you come in Winter don’t forget that we don’t get much daylight then. For example on Dec 21 sunrise is around 8:43GMT and sunset is 15:40GMT. I got off Black Hill and back to the car at 15:50 on Dec 19th 2006 on what had been a brilliantly sunny day. But by that time it was dark enough that I needed the luggage compartment light and a torch to get changed etc. If you’re down in a valley it will get dark earlier. Right now it’s 22:00 BST and grey and overcast but light enough outside to read a newspaper and it’s still 3 weeks to the longest day.
Anquet says a round of Flotterstone->Scald Law->Black Hill->Allermuir Hill->Flotterstone is 21.2km and 1270m of climbing. I would class that as a big day!
In reply to MM0FMF:
Thanks for the further details Andy. It wouldn’t be a winter visit even though I now have the machinery to deal with adverse road conditions. I certainly appreciate the need for daylight!
As for a 21km walk - about the same distance as I walked in activating GW/MW-001, 038 and 004, so I know what it feels like… and that in new boots (no blisters!).