Pentland Hills Regional Park: Scald Law and The Kips

Edinburgh is brimming with green spaces and hills, and the Pentland Hills Regional Park to the south of the city has quickly become one of my favourite places for a walk. Whether you fancy a short stroll or a longer hike that strings a few peaks together, you’ll find it here. With sunshine on the forecast for (some of) the Easter weekend, we opted for the latter. Scald Law, East Kip and West Kip (together, The Kips) can be done in one fell swoop, by tracing the ridge on the eastern edge of the park.

We followed the path for a short distance along the edge of Harlaw Reservoir, which is flanked by conifers, before turning right onto a dirt track at the point where Harlaw Reservoir meets Threipmuir Reservoir. When we’d hiked up Black Hill a couple of weeks’ prior, repairs were taking place on the footbridge crossing the reservoir. The result? The dirt path with its crater-like potholes now resembled a muddy bath. We decided to walk along the gravelly reservoir shore instead, since the water level was low.

Threipmuir Reservoir

Once over the footbridge, we picked up a path that skirts the foot of Black Hill. On a clear day, you can see the Forth Bridge and the peaks beyond Stirling; on this day, the horizon was a wee bit hazy, and the Forth Bridge was little more than a white smudge in the distance.

View from Black Hill over Threipmuir Reservoir

A little further on, we dropped down into Green Cleugh, a gorge fringed by heather-clad slopes and a narrow waterway. Ahead, spanning the gap in the gorge, was Scald Law. Just as the path begins to open out into the Logan Valley, we spotted a waterfall spilling over the edge of a cliff; a barely discernible, silvery sliver against the heather. Green Cleugh is a particularly pretty stretch, and one that is easily incorporated into a number of other walks in the area.

Green Cleugh
Waterfall at the end of Green Cleugh/Logan Valley

When the path forked, we turned left and followed the path as it meandered along Logan Burn for a couple of hundred metres. Sitting in splendid isolation in the middle of the valley is a stone farmhouse. Go past it, and you’ve gone too far (the walk along the edge of Loganlea Reservoir is very pleasant, but more on that another day). We took the steep dirt trail to the right of the house, signposted Penicuik and the Kirk Road. On that note, signposts are few and far between in the Pentland Hills Regional Park, making a map an essential companion.

Logan Valley

Up, up, up. And then up some more. It was a sharp, steep ascent to the col between Carnethy Hill and Scald Law, but we were quickly rewarded with expansive views over the Logan Valley. At the col, we veered off to the right; go straight, and you’ll end up in Penicuik. We stopped to put our coats on, as there was a chilly breeze, and then followed the rise to the summit of Scald Law (579m).

Looking down on Logan Valley

We lingered a while at the top, munching bagels and caramel wafers (I’ve recently rediscovered Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer biscuits, and the new dark chocolate variety is particularly moreish) and taking in the views. Beyond the northernmost peaks, Edinburgh; beyond it, the Forth of Firth, a ribbon of blue separating the Lothians from Fife.

View to the north from Scald Law

We left Scald Law’s trig point behind, and headed south towards East Kip. Here, the path narrowed considerably – it was about a sheep’s width across – making it rather challenging to maintain any distance from walkers coming in the other direction.

Towards East Kip and West Kip
Ascending East Kip

East Kip’s grassy track is pock-marked with walkers’ footholds and mountain bikers’ tracks. It was a short, steep ascent to the summit of East Kip (534m), and while the views from the top were beautiful, the cloud of flies was anything but. We moved briskly on towards West Kip (551m).

West Kip (centre right)

From West Kip, we could see most of the route we’d taken thus far: the glossy, pale blue surface of Threipmuir Reservoir (first photo, left); the flanks of Hare Hill and Black Hill disappearing into Green Cleugh (first photo, centre); the tip of Loganlea Reservoir (first photo, far right); and the undulating path from the summit of Scald Law (second photo).

Looking back on our route
Scald Law (centre left) and South Black Hill (centre right)

A rough grassy path took us down the south side of West Kip, and onto the Red Road (which is neither red nor a road). We turned right, and continued along the Red Road through open moorland for a few kilometres.

The Red Road

When the path met the road at Bavelaw, we turned right, then took a left immediately after to descend towards Threipmuir Reservoir by an avenue of beech trees. For any keen birdwatchers, there’s a bird hide off to the left overlooking Bavelaw Marsh. We crossed the bridge, and picked up a path to our right which led us through Redford Wood and back to Harlaw Reservoir.

Looking north from the Red Road

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

  • Parking | If you want to get a spot in Harlaw or Bavelaw car park, you’ll need to be up early; on weekends, both are usually full by 8.30am. The suggested donation for these car parks is £2. If you’re a late riser and/or willing to add a kilometre or so to your hike, you’ll find ample on-street parking in nearby Malleny Mills and Balerno.
  • Facilities | There are toilets near Harlaw Reservoir, but at the time of our hike (early April) these were closed. Check the Pentland Hills Regional Park website (www.pentlandhills.org) for up-to-date information.
  • Maps and guides | OS Explorer 344 covers the Pentland Hills Regional Park. We adapted route 56 from Rab Anderson’s The Pentland Hills.
  • Distance | 18.85km/11.7 miles; 600m of elevation gain.

8 thoughts on “Pentland Hills Regional Park: Scald Law and The Kips

  1. Love your photos! Now that it’s getting into summer, I want to explore more of it as I’ve only done a couple of the walks… problem is, I want to go everywhere else now we’re allowed to hahaha. Ooh and a Tunnocks caramel wafer sounds good for a hiking snack!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s such a beautiful spot – and so easy to access! I love the fact you can leave the city and be in the hills in half an hour. Haha, I know the feeling! Not a bad dilemma to have, though, all things considered 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a beautiful place! There’s something magical about Green Cleugh – I think it’s the way the steep sides slowly give way to that first glimpse of Scald Law.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the gentle, rolling greenery, which adds texture and variation to the views you see during the hike– and all the better that you went on such a beautiful, blue-sky day! Looks like you’re settling in quite nicely in Edinburgh, and I look forward to more adventures from you soon, Rosie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We were really lucky with the weather in late March and early April – the past month, however, has been a washout! Glad we made the most of the good weather… you never know how long it’ll stick around. There’s a lot of variety in the landscape for such a small area 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Think you ought to be writing a newcomer’s guide to Scotland- enjoyed reading it!
    Have you come across the Bradt Slow Guides – 3 about Scotland.

    Liked by 1 person

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