Easy Pentlands

This walk follows part of the waymarked Capital View walk across Caerketton and Allermuir Hills which as the name would suggest provides a panoramic view across Edinburgh to Fife and beyond. The third hill, Capelaw, offers views in the opposite direction across to the higher Pentland tops. After reaching the third hill you have an option to continue to Harbour Hill if you wish to extend the walk.

This walk takes in some small hills and although it is all on paths some navigation skills would be beneficial if visibility is poor. Most of the paths are unsurfaced and can get muddy after heavy rain. Walking boots are strongly recommended for this walk. General information on walking in the Pentlands is available on the Pentlands Regional Park website.

  • Start / Finish: Swanston public car park (EH10 7DS) – grid ref NT 240 673
  • Terrain: Mostly grassy and trodden hill paths that are easy to follow

Three Easy Pentlands

  • Distance: 9 km / 5.6 miles
  • Ascent: 450m / 1470 feet

Four Pentlands

  • Distance: 11.3 km / 7 miles
  • Ascent: 520 m / 1700 feet

Route Map

Route map

The walk starts directly from the far end of the car park where a path starts to head up hill alongside the Swanston Burn. Before reaching the open hill, the path passes through the attractive Swanston village. There are a number of waymarks for various routes on this section of the path, initially we are going to follow the route of the Pentland Way. As you start to gain height you will pass the T Wood on your left. Once passed this woodland you should turn left following a signpost for Boghall and Hillend.

The unsurfaced path takes you across the hillside to the top of the ski centre. When you reach the ski centre you have the option of taking a “short cut” path to your right which goes steeply up the hill to reach the east top of Caerketton directly. For a less steep route, stay on the main path beside the ski runs and follow the main path up Caerketton keeping right to go up the hill. The 452m east top is marked by a stone cairn.

From the east top a good grassy path leads west to the main Caerketton summit at 478m. This section of the walk is the Capital View walk and on a clear day you will see why. After Caerketton summit descend to the coll at Windy Door Nick (great name) and then keep going in a westerly direction to the summit of Allermuir Hill. At 493m this is the highest point of the walk. The summit is marked with both a trig point and a view indicator.

Pass through the gate (don’t cross the stile) so that you keep the fence to your left. Follow the path that leads away from the fence line down to the next coll (the path alongside the fence will take you to Castlelaw). After the coll, ascend the gentle slopes of Capelaw hill to reach its rounded 454m summit marked with an old iron post.

At this point you can continue with the Three Easy Pentlands walk or if you are feeling energetic proceed to Harbour Hill to do the Four Pentlands walk.

Three Easy Pentlands

A path descends westerly from  the summit of Capelaw to Bonaly Reservoir. As you start walking down the path the reservoir will be obvious in front of you.

Once at the reservoir you need to turn right onto a rather muddy bit of path, keeping the trees to your left. Don’t go through the gate to the reservoir.

Four Pentlands

To extend the route, descend in a south west direction on a path to reach a rather wet coll. Cross the obvious path (known as Phantom’s Cleugh) and follow the path up Harbour Hill opposite. After reaching the flat 421m summit return to a fence junction and cross the fence to your north where the barb wire has been removed. Follow the path in a northerly direction down the hill with a fence to your left heading for the trees at Bonaly Reservoir.

Keep on the path which goes around the reservoir close to the trees / fence. Don’t follow the main path downhill but keep to the trees to reach another obvious path. Go right through a gate to walk past the dam. When you reach another gate after the dam, turn left on to the rather muddy path the other side of the gate so that the trees are to your left.

Both routes

The path soon improves as it skirts around Capelaw Hill. Keep left at the first path junction so that you stay close to the trees and don’t start going back up hill. Once past the trees you cross some grassland to reach a path junction at a gate. Go left here down the hill side. Once you reach the junction at the bottom of the hill keep right so that the trees are to your left and a fenced off area is on your right. Follow the grass path eastwards to the spruce trees ahead of you. Keep these trees to your left when the path splits

After the trees there is a stone seating area which makes a good rest stop. Soon you will reach a track across the hills where you turn right and then immediately left at a small building. The path passes through a gate to enter a grassy field area. Keep close to the trees on your right (if you stray too far left you will end up heading down to Dreghorn) and pass through another gate. The path becomes more obvious and proceeds in an easterly direction with trees to your left and the steep hillside to your right. Keep straight on when you reach a cross road until you reach Swanston Farm.

At the farm, follow the signs and walk round the left hand side of the farm to reach an access road. This road soon meets the “main” road to Swanston from where it is just a few minutes walk back to the car park.