Edinburgh: One Day, Seven Hills

And just like that, it’s September and this wee corner of the internet has been (as was perhaps inevitable) neglected for the best part of a month. I’m five weeks into my year as a newly-qualified teacher in a new-to-me school, and it has been equal parts enjoyable and exhausting. But I digress. Today’s blog is a space for one of Edinburgh’s best urban walks: Seven Hills.

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A Few Favourites from Edinburgh’s #GiraffeAboutTown Art Trail

If you’ve been out and about in Edinburgh over the past month, you’ve probably noticed a few tall, brightly-coloured additions to the city’s streets. Wild in Art and Edinburgh Zoo have teamed up to bring a herd of forty-odd giraffe sculptures (plus thirty more wee ones designed by schools and local communities) to Edinburgh. Some are wacky, others whimsical. All of them have brought a smile to my face. I’ve had oodles of fun scouting out Edinburgh’s newest residents on recent trips into town, and today I’m going to share a few of my favourites (in no particular order).

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Pentland Hills Regional Park: Hare Hill via Loganlea Reservoir and Maiden’s Cleugh

Hare Hill is, for me at least, the jewel in the Pentland Hills Regional Park’s crown. We’ve hiked up it in March, September, February and June (in that order, since moving to Bonnie Scotland), and have done a mixture of out-and-backs and longer loops.

Rewind to June, and the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday. (However you feel about the Royal Family, a four-day weekend is always a good idea in my books.) Previous bank holiday outings have tended to fall into one of two camps on the weather front: overcast with optional drizzle and/or downpours, or stonking hot. Mercifully, this particular bank holiday was a happy midpoint: glorious sunshine and definitely t-shirt weather, but not so hot that we felt in danger of melting into a puddle.

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Pentland Hills Regional Park: Hare Hill via Green Cleugh and Threipmuir Reservoir

Hare Hill is one of my favourite spots in the Pentland Hills Regional Park*. Gorgeous views? You bet. Easy to get to? Very much so. But the best bit about Hare Hill is its flexibility. If you want a straightforward out-and-back that’s an option, but I much prefer a circular route – and that’s where Hare Hill comes into its element as there are plenty of options. I’ve got a couple of routes to share (stay tuned for the second… it’s in the works!). First up: Hare Hill via Green Cleugh and Threipmuir Reservoir.

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Water of Leith Walkway: Balerno to Leith

Stretching from Balerno to Leith, the Water of Leith Walkway seamlessly transports walkers from the rural fringes of the Pentland Hills Regional Park to the urban buzz of the city centre and the banks of the Firth of Forth. I’d had my eye on walking the full length of the Water of Leith Walkway for a while, so when I had a bit of time on my hands between leaving my job and starting the PGDE I pulled on my walking boots… and the rest, as they say, is history. I should probably note that walking boots aren’t strictly necessary for this route; I just find them more comfortable than trainers for long walks. Here’s a wee photo tour of the Water of Leith Walkway:

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John Muir Way: Edinburgh to North Berwick

Stretching from Helensburgh to Dunbar, the John Muir Way traverses countryside, cities and coastal towns. It’s 215km/134 miles in all, but with train stations at regular intervals along the route it’s easy to split up into shorter stretches if you only fancy a day in the saddle. We did just that, and cycled a small segment of the route from Edinburgh to North Berwick a couple of weekends ago.

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Pentland Hills Regional Park: Turnhouse Hill and Carnethy Hill

If you’re looking for a shorter hike with views on a par with those from Scald Law and the Kips, but without the crowds, Turnhouse Hill and Carnethy Hill should fit the bill. We made an early start, and for the second weekend on the trot the sun was shining. We followed a single track road beyond the car park for a short distance, and then veered off to the left to join the footpath (signposted Scald Law) which leads to Turnhouse Hill.

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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.

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Edinburgh Zoo

Once we’d filled up on a hearty Premier Inn breakfast, we checked out and made our way to Edinburgh Zoo. Over a thousand animals call this 82-acre hilltop zoological park home – though there were two in particular that I was hoping to see: Tian Tian (Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine), the UK’s only giant pandas.

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