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Pentland Hills

Hiking in Pentland Hills

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Photo: Gordon

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So close to Edinburgh’s lovely city centre you can almost hear the castle’s bagpipers from its highest summits, the Pentland Hills are delightful. Walks in the Pentland Hills place you amongst a thriving patchwork of noble hills, heather moorland, sheep-grazed pastures, pretty reservoirs and glorious woodland.

Experience the sight of the Scottish capital and the Firth of Forth stretching away below as you soak up the scenery from the range’s northern outposts. Venture further into this gorgeous landscape to ridges that are inspiring but never overly strenuous. These are the ideal hills for bracing rambles that clear the head and have the soul soaring.

Due to their modest elevation, hikes in the Pentland Hills are perfect for the whole family, including the pooch. There are plenty of hidden, quiet corners of woodland, heather moorland and farmland ripe for exploration. Scenic reservoirs dot the landscape, providing habitats for a variety of bird and mammal species.

Intermediate
04:22
8.52 mi
Intermediate
02:08
3.83 mi
Intermediate
03:56
9.02 mi
Intermediate
03:53
7.10 mi
Difficult
06:21
11.8 mi
Difficult
06:53
13.5 mi
Difficult
06:50
13.3 mi
Intermediate
03:30
7.64 mi
Intermediate
03:11
6.86 mi
Intermediate
01:18
3.06 mi
Intermediate
02:39
6.02 mi
Intermediate
02:13
5.18 mi
Intermediate
02:37
4.57 mi
Easy
01:10
2.80 mi
Intermediate
03:12
6.28 mi
Intermediate
01:47
4.01 mi
Intermediate
03:28
5.23 mi
Intermediate
02:29
5.25 mi
Intermediate
02:55
6.04 mi
Easy
01:24
3.46 mi

Top 20 best walks and hikes in Pentland Hills

    1
    Intermediate
    04:22
    8.52 mi
    2.0 mph
    1,375 ft
    1,375 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    2
    Intermediate
    02:08
    3.83 mi
    1.8 mph
    1,050 ft
    1,075 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
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  • 3
    Intermediate
    03:56
    9.02 mi
    2.3 mph
    675 ft
    675 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    4
    Intermediate
    03:53
    7.10 mi
    1.8 mph
    1,275 ft
    1,300 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    5
    Difficult
    06:21
    11.8 mi
    1.9 mph
    1,950 ft
    1,950 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    6
    Difficult
    06:53
    13.5 mi
    2.0 mph
    2,000 ft
    2,000 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    7
    Difficult
    06:50
    13.3 mi
    1.9 mph
    1,925 ft
    1,925 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    8
    Intermediate
    03:30
    7.64 mi
    2.2 mph
    825 ft
    825 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    9
    Intermediate
    03:11
    6.86 mi
    2.2 mph
    925 ft
    925 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    10
    Intermediate
    01:18
    3.06 mi
    2.3 mph
    150 ft
    150 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Great for any fitness level. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    11
    Intermediate
    02:39
    6.02 mi
    2.3 mph
    500 ft
    500 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    12
    Intermediate
    02:13
    5.18 mi
    2.3 mph
    300 ft
    300 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    13
    Intermediate
    02:37
    4.57 mi
    1.7 mph
    950 ft
    950 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    14
    Easy
    01:10
    2.80 mi
    2.4 mph
    75 ft
    75 ft
    Easy hike. Great for any fitness level. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    15
    Intermediate
    03:12
    6.28 mi
    2.0 mph
    1,250 ft
    1,250 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    16
    Intermediate
    01:47
    4.01 mi
    2.3 mph
    375 ft
    375 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Great for any fitness level. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    17
    Intermediate
    03:28
    5.23 mi
    1.5 mph
    1,425 ft
    1,425 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    18
    Intermediate
    02:29
    5.25 mi
    2.1 mph
    800 ft
    800 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    19
    Intermediate
    02:55
    6.04 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,025 ft
    1,050 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    20
    Easy
    01:24
    3.46 mi
    2.5 mph
    25 ft
    25 ft
    Easy hike. Great for any fitness level. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

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More Information

The resident hills of Scotland’s bonny capital

The Pentland Hills are the closest area of upland to Edinburgh and stretch for twenty glorious miles (32 km). Established in 1986, the Pentland Hills Regional Park ensures conservation and access to this lovely landscape, offering the discerning hiker over 62 miles (100 km) of routes across the hills. Gradients are easier on the knees than those found in the Highlands, perfect for a family adventure.


Perhaps the finest place to start your walks in the Pentland Hills is Hillend Country Park. Popular with dog walkers, it is not long before the trails ascend to magnificent viewpoints overlooking Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth with its iconic bridges. Flocks of sheep roam the upland pastures, so it’s crucial to keep your dog on a lead at all times.

Respect the Law

For many, the best hiking trails in the Pentland Hills traverse the delightful ridge that connects pretty Carnethy Hill to the domed summit of Scald Law which, at 1,900 feet (579 metres), is the range’s highest point. Such is the scenic value of this walk that Sir Walter Scott extolled that he ‘never saw anything more beautiful then the ridge of Carnethy against a clear frosty sky.’

Sumptuous hillwalking all year round

Hikes in the Pentland Hills reward with repeat visits at different times of the year. Their location in the east means that they avoid the worst of the Atlantic fronts, leading to a colder, more stable climate in winter. This allows for stunning frosts and, despite their moderate height, dustings of snow are not uncommon. Winter walking here is marvellous, without some of the dangers associated with snow in the Highlands.

Spring brings greenery back to the hills, warmth to the air and those Edinburgh views are clearer than later in the year. Summer sees long daylight hours and hazy days. This is when the heather moorland is at its most spectacular, a dazzling display of bright purple. For evocative red and gold hues spreading across the hillside and transforming the pockets of woodland, autumn is always a superb time to don those hiking boots.


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