Pentland Regional Park: Glencorse Reservoir Walk

My commitment to complete at least one hike a week has fared quite well. I resolved long ago to not be put off by ‘bad’ weather – remarkably that resolve hasn’t been put to the test that much as, by sheer luck, the days I’ve chosen for my hikes have escaped the worst. In any case, I mostly subscribe to the ‘no such thing as bad weather – only bad attire’ school of thought.

Yesterday was probably one of those bad attire days. I didn’t have my usual hiking stuff with me (rule #1: take hiking boots with you, anywhere, just in case). Weather forecast said low chance of precipitation, but not to be believed since the sky was overcast. So I decided upon a relatively tame walk in Pentland regional park.

Pentland regional park is just outside Edinburgh spreading across Midlothian. It has multiple gateways with tracks that take you to one or other of its hills. I chose the Flotterstone Inn entrance. The walk along the Pentland Path begins through some woods after which you arrive at a crossroads – the track in the middle heads towards Glencorse reservoir, and the one on the left up Scald Law Hill. Scald Law was tempting but would have to wait for another day. Instead I took the route towards the lake.

On the way, you pass a wooded stream (Glencorse Burn), one mild uphill climb, followed by a long-ish tarmac path to the reservoir.

The reservoir itself is very beautiful, meandering between colourful, mist-shrouded hills. But it’s also closed off behind a stone wall – only licensed anglers have access beyond and to the lake itself, which seems a bit miserly given there is a big sign at the beginning stating ‘public reservoir’.

I walked alongside the stone wall until I reached an uphill wooded track on the right, with an old sign pointing upwards with ‘viewpoint’, as well as a more recent notice that said ‘military range’. I chose to climb up – this way also led up Black Hill.

At the top of the slope there is a fine view of Glencorse Reservoir and the surrounding hills. Plus, on this occasion, a fine view of heavy rain clouds.

Even so, I was a third of the way up Black Hill by this point, and it seemed a shame not to at least try to get to the top. There is a narrow stony path that circles around the Hill, so I took the path to the left.

Sure enough, it started to drizzle – but what is more refreshing and life-affirming than hiking in gentle rain! As the path continued to twist around the Hill it climbed upwards. The other side of the Hill was desolate, while the views were magnificent, with gorges, distant summits, and swathes of bright purple heather that grow especially in late summer to mid-September. I left the path and attempted to climb to the top of Black Hill…the final stretch was steep. I did get a fair way up. But the rain was getting heavier, the grass was too wet, my trainers kept slipping, and I knew any moment now I’d end up face-first in sheep poop, of which there was a lot. I’d already had several close encounters – time to abort mission. And as much as I like the rain, I also realised I was now quite soggy without my waterproofs. So I turned back.

Here are some shots of the heather and brilliant autumnal hues as the reservoir came back into view.

The rain had mostly stopped as I got back on the path, so instead of going back down the wooded slope, I carried on for a bit along the Pentland way that circled around the right of the hill. About 300m along I came across this sign:

This whole side of the hill was colonised by these threatening signs. I did my best to ignore them, but it was quite hard not to be irked by the audacity of the military claiming this patch of nature, turning it into something ominous to serve the purpose of destruction. If I continued along the path I would have reached Castlelaw Hillfort, which I did want to see. But the military signs became more frequent and were disturbing my peace. So I headed back, past lots of rams…

…back down the slope, and alongside Glencorse Reservoir.

In the end it was a walk of about 14km. If you just want to go for a moderate walk, without the hill-walking, there is still enough scenic variety, from woodlands to streams to lakes, to make it more than interesting and enjoyable.

But of course the hills are the main draw – there are about 22 (possibly more, but I think they stopped counting when drawing the maps), and Black Hill is one of the smallest. So obviously I will have to return…this was just a scouting trip. In the rain.

At the Flotterstone gateway there is a cute little café if you want to warm yourself up: tomato + roast pepper soup and Snickers cake recommended.

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5 Responses to Pentland Regional Park: Glencorse Reservoir Walk

  1. Olga says:

    That sounds like a great walk, even despite some small hindrances. The photos are absolutely stunning: what gorgeous views!

  2. Orchid says:

    That was such a refreshing read! Thank you so much for sharing. I was enjoying the scenery in your pictures-until those military signs forced their appearance! That must’ve been quite annoying.
    I’m glad you’ve subscribed to the ‘no such thing as bad weather’ that is truly the way to go.
    If you don’t mind me asking- how did you manage to harness that mindset? I still find ‘gloomy’ weather takes its toll on me, so I commend you for hiking despite the weather.

    Thank you so much for sharing

    • Earthoak says:

      Thank you Orchid. I love your question because it made me think. I think I arrived at that mindset partly through experience (and by accident). In the past when hiking in (unpredicted) bad weather, I noticed even though others around me were getting a bit grumpy I didn’t seem to mind – was quite
      happy, in fact. The difference seemed to come down to the fact they had ill-fitting boots, or were feeling cold, or had wet feet (or didn’t really like the outdoors anyway). On the other hand, if you have the right equipment, you can stay fairly dry, and while walking you’re generating heat anyway. So from those experiences I know bad weather doesn’t have to lessen your enjoyment. On the contrary, overcoming the challenges can add to the accomplishment. As for the views – rain or wind or snow doesn’t diminish those either! The same landscape looks different, but still beautiful. Sometimes more memorable. Why miss out just because of the weather! Reminds me of a Norwegian forest hike I did some years ago- was bitingly cold, treacherous icy paths, everything white with snow. Loved it, will never forget it. Another time trekked across the Malvern hills in swirling rain and wind, enjoyed it as much as when I did the same hike in gorgeous sunny weather.

  3. Pingback: ‘Constable Country’ Walk – Manningtree Circular | Earth and Oak

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