Northern Pentlands


Allermuir (493m)
Scald Law (579m)


Caerketton (473m)
Castlelaw (488m)
Turnhouse (502m)
Carnethy (573m)
South Black Hill (563m)  
East Kip (534m)
West Kip (551m)


1250m (4,100ft)


17km (10.5m)


walking : 6:20hr, running : 1:45hr
 *Naismith's rule : 4km/h distance + 600m/h ascent

Main route summary

Many starting points and tracks everywhere make these hills so accessible and create endless route possibilities. With the area being steeped in history, you're bound to stumble on something unusual. Many different types of people use the Pentlands, so take note of the Access Code. There are quite a few pubs in the area, with The Steading at Hillend and The Alan Ramsay at Carlops standing out for atmosphere and real ale, however our favourite for food is the The Organic Place at Whitmuir

start Hillend Ski Centre
(grid ref : NT243667)

finish Nine Mile Burn
(grid ref : NT177577)


GPS data download GPX file of this route

Google Earth    download KML file of this route

easy Pathless all the way difficult
easy Tricky in mist testing
easyNot a long day, but a fair bit of effortlong day
ok Good views in all directions stunning
main route outlineprint route
Getting there
The Pentland hills are very accessible, with this route starting from Hillend Ski Centre, which is just south of the Edinburgh City By-Pass on the A702 heading for Biggar.

  • From the car-park, head directly uphill on the path up the left-side of the ski-runs, cross a stile and continue up to a cairn. This is the summit of the minor top Hillend.
  • From the cairn, follow a good path to the untidy pile of stones on Caerketton's summit, just 2 or 3 minutes on.
  • There's a large pile of stones, but better shelter from the elements can be found in a little hide a few metres on.

  • Continue on the path that follows the crest and the fence-posts, dropping to a col with a path crossing it.
  • Uphill next, stick to the fence-posts (ignoring any paths heading off right) to Allermuir's summmit with its viewfinder and gate. Fine views from this peak in all directions.

  • Through the gate, follow the path and fence posts downhill to join a track, cross the cattle grid and head uphill on a short rise.
  • A slight drop, then come to a fork in the track, turn right and follow the track to the summit of Castlelaw with its concrete pillbox and flag-pole.

Turnhouse Hill
  • Turn left and follow the posts over heather downhill to pick up a track. Stick to the track down to Castlelaw Farm, checking out the fort on the way.
  • The signposts mark the way on a mucky path around the farm, to pick up a recently constructed path down to the private road.
  • Follow the road down to a signpost pointing right, to go through two gates and cross a bridge, then aim upwards on the path. You'll cross a couple of stiles, then the ascent steepens to attain a small col.
  • Another short steep section, then the hill levels off for the last few mintues to reach Turnhouse Hill's summit and its untidy pile of boulders.

  • Continue on the path, downhill for a wee bit, around a minor peak, then drop on easy ground to the next bealach. Through the fence, there's a stile or a gate to choose from, then on a gravelly constructed path, head uphill to the large strewn pile of boulders on the summit of Carnethy.

Scald Law
  • From Carnethy, after an initial steep and bouldery drop west, the descent lessens and the path continues over grass and peat to the next col.
  • Uphill next, a constructed path zig-zags its way through the heather, then crosses grass to reach the trig point on Scald Law - no cairn here !

South Black Hill
  • South-west next on a path (not so obvious in thick mist), look for a turning left over more peaty ground.
  • Stay on this for a few minutes, crossing some wet grassy ground, then climb up a short gravelly section to South Black Hill's bouldery summit.

East Kip
  • Run around the South Black Hill's cairn and pick up a faint path heading north-west-north to follow to meet with a more obvious path coming directly down from Scald Law at the next col.
  • Follow this path up a short steep ascent to East Kip then grassy ground to below another short steep section to the summit of West Kip.

Descent to Nine Mile Burn and return
  • South-west on a worn path to cross a track heading east-west, then cross a fence via a stile at a signpost and head south on a path.
  • On reaching the crest, there is a vague junction, keep right, heading south.
  • The going is easy over grassy ground to reach a stone, where people drop coins - this is where the base of an ancient cross was, and the path is on the route of the Monk's Way - from a monastery in Newhall to Queensferry.
  • The end is in sight, follow the path and signposts across and around fields down to Nine Mile Burn, where you've left another car or arranged a lift - if not, then there's a bus stop on the main road !

© 2017 Steven Fallon