A WALK IN THE PENTLAND HILLS
Located just 5 miles to the south of Edinburgh, the Pentland Hills provide some of the best hillwalking and stunning views, just a stone’s throw away from the capital city. Last weekend, to beat the January blues, my boyfriend and I decided to get out of the city and into nature for a change of pace. Within an hour, we were navigating our way up one of the many paths and into the hills. My only goal? See some Highland cattle, and admire the panoramic views (in that order). Lucky for me, those two goals were easily attainable. We decided to go for the 1.5 hour Capital View walk, since it was already afternoon and the sun sets so early these days. As the name suggests, this walk definitely gave us some amazing views of Edinburgh, and we didn’t have to walk far before we were able to admire the scenery. After an hour of walking through the Hills, our path was coming to an end and I was starting to feel like my goal of cuddling a coo (Scots for cow), might be a bust. But just as I was about to give up and drag my muddy hiking boots home, my boyfriend pointed out a brown and white spot in the distance. As we got closer, that spot turned into coos! 11 to be exact – what a dream. Obviously I didn’t actually cuddle them, but I got pretty close! These adorable guys seemed pretty ambivalent towards humans, so I guess the feelings weren’t really mutual. But they didn’t seem to mind me gushing and taking 5 million photos, and that’s all I could really ask for.
But I digress. Whether you’re in it for the coos or the views, the Pentlands are a lovely place to spend the day.
Thinking about planning an excursion to the Pentland Hills? Keep scrolling!
WHEN TO GO
The Pentland Hills are open and accessible to visitors every day of the year, though be warned – it can get pretty muddy. Scottish weather is famously unpredictable, and while the ideal time to visit is when it hasn’t rained in a while, sometimes you just need to slip on your wellies and embrace the mud.
HOW TO GET THERE
Located just outside the city, the Pentlands are easily accessible by car or public transit. I usually take the number 4 bus and get off at Hillend (Snowsports Centre stop). It takes less than an hour, and buses come pretty frequently. Check out the official website for more information on bus schedules.
WHAT TO DO
Go for a walk
Did you know there are over 100 kilometers (62 miles) of path to explore? These paths are marked and well maintained by the city, making it easy for visitors to navigate. Whether you’re looking for a long, strenuous hike, or are just in it for the views, there are paths for people of all activity levels.
Take in the views
Though some of the hills are a beast to climb, the panoramic views from every angle are worth it. Every vantage point shows something new, whether you’re looking to catch a glimpse of some of the famous bridges, the Border hills, the edge of the Highlands, or the capital city, you won’t be disappointed. I’m used to always seeing the hills of the Pentlands in the background while I’m in the city, so I love the role reversal of being able to view Edinburgh from a distance.
Say hi to the friendly coos
If you can’t make it to the countryside to visit Scotland’s most adorable animal, the Pentlands are the perfect place to come face to face with a Highland coo. With their fuzzy coats and cutie faces, seeing the coos are always a highlight. The Highland cattle that wander part of the Pentland Hills belong to Swanston Farm, and don’t mind posing for photos. Keep in mind, they do have horns and aren’t accustomed to getting pets or cuddles, so keep a safe distance!
Did you know, the The Midlothian Snowsports Centre is the second longest dry ski slope in Europe? Located right in the Pentland Hills, the Snowsports Centre is the national training centre for Scottish Olympians. Open year-round, the Centre is also available to visitors for lessons, practice, and camps for snowboarding or skiing.