Allermuir, Caerketton and Swanston Village
Easily accessible, even by the local Edinburgh bus service, this Pentland Hills climb gives great views over the city of Edinburgh, the Forth bridges, and fine views of the Pentlands to the south.
Looking at the Pentlands from Edinburgh, they give the impression of a gentle rolling range of hills, but in fact they have some very steep gradients and this climb is no exception - not technically difficult, but some very steep slopes!
Caerketton and Allermuir are 478m and 493m high respectively.
This is a circular route, and should take 3-4 hours.
This walk starts in the public car park on the left just as you turn off the A702 for the Hillend artificial ski slope.
It is a popular car park with dog walkers, so an early start is recommended before it fills up.
The car park is right beside the terminus for the Lothian Region No.4 bus if you prefer to use public transport.
Part 1 - Allermuir and Caerketton Hills
Follow the path from the car park towards the ski slope.
You will come to a signpost pointing to Caerketton straight ahead, up some steps, or Boghall to the left. To be honest you can take either path as they tend to converge at the top, but I like to take the straight ahead route which climbs up the side of the ski slope.
The path up the side of the ski slope is steep, and for an old codger like me, a few camera stops are necessary. i.e pretending to take photographs while waiting for my heart rate to return to normal!
When you near the top of the slope, you will see a mound to the left - apparently the remains of an iron age fort. There is a handy bench there where you can rest and admire the wonderful views of Edinburgh before tackling the next hill.
Part 2 - Caerketton Hill
Above the ski slope, you reach a fence. If the first slope has tired you out, you can follow the sign for the Capital View walk. This takes you past the top of the ski slope and then it's all downhill to Swanston Village.
Our route however takes the very steep path up the side of Caerketton Hill. This path needs even more camera stops than the first section!
This is a good spot to stop and watch the skiers as they leave the chairlift and head down the slopes.
Finally you see the huge cairn that marks the summit of Caerketton Hill
Part 3 - Allemuir Hill
The walk now dips down before the final climb to the top of Allermuir Hill.
This slope is not so steep, but the views at the top are spectacular.
From the Forth bridges to the left, and all down the Forth Estuary. Behind you, Scald Law and Carnethy Hill, with Glencorse reservoir running along at the bottom.
There is a viewpoint here which lets you know what you are looking at.
Part 4 - Swanston Village
The return route is now back down Allermuir Hill,but following the path to the left in front of the Caerketton crags.
This path does eventually veer off to the left, but it is better to go directly down to the track that you will see ahead of you.
This will also lead directly to the signpost for Swanston Village.
On the track, I met this rather large fellow - and realised that he was on the same side of the fence as me!
But as the sign on the fence says - "Don't bother the Highland cattle, and they won't bother you"
Follow the path down to the picturesque Swanston village.
From there follow the sign for Lothian Burn which takes you along the side of the golf course.
The track takes you back to the A702, and then turn right to walk back to your start point.
An Alternative View From the Pentlands
These are some pictures from an earlier attempt to do this article. Edinburgh is well know for its East coast haar - a fog that rolls in from the river Forth.
Usually it burns off quite quickly, but that day it persisted! It made for some quite nice photos, but rubbish views of Edinburgh!