Exploring the Pentlands

I wanted to be outside yesterday. In fact, I wanted to be outside the day before that – but we were suffering from typical Scottish Spring weather. Rain, the cold, and a day that starts at ten in the morning and ends at three in the afternoon. But last night there was hope. According to various weather reports, Sunday was going to be glorious! By glorious, they meant it would rain in the morning, be sunny for a little bit in the afternoon, then be cloudy, overcast and boring for the rest of the day. Glorious! I say! Glorious!

I went to bed intending to get up early so as to make full use of the sunshine. I woke up bright and early at 11:30! Earlier than most, no doubt. In fact earlier than probably anyone (okay, so I overslept…). I made tea, I made some lunch, I checked my bicycle over and set off in search of local wilderness! I ended up on the canal path and followed it out towards the Water of Leith. I took a couple of odd detours and ended up going through this awesome tunnel:

The sign seemed to indicate that I was on the otherside of the Water of Leith path – I’d never been this far before, but I continued and followed the river as it churned its way through the countryside. I took some breathtaking picture of it from a few of the bridges I crossed, and from a really sexy looking path that was full of dog walkers, but my camera chewed on the images and spat them out as grey blocks rather than the colour images I was hoping for. I put this down to my camera being in a grumpy mood after having woke it up so early this morning…

I found this thing, which kind of looks like a metallic fish/boot containing fossilised creatures, and a cool looking car park nestled under a bridge (apparently my camera found these images unappetising, so they emerged un-chewed):

Then I cycled up a massive hill and over a main road, then into a nature reserve car park and voila! Pentlands! The walked my bike along a footpath and found some woodland.


I didn’t really say that loud enough did I? I FOUND WOODLAND! YEEEEAAAH! I’ve been trying to find something like this for a while, but haven’t been able to get far enough out of the city to find anything this significant. The Water of Leith footpath was my haunt for a while, as there was a good amount of tree coverage beyond The Dene, but it wasn’t really a ‘forest’ as such, more just a strip of woodland running alongside the river. Lovely, well worth exploring, but I wanted something a little more dense. Today, I found what I’d been looking for.

So I made a cup of tea and watched people wandering round. I pocked and prodded the mosses and mushrooms, then wandered up further. The trees seemed to stop at the fence, but I continued anyway – curious to see what was on the other side.

MOORRRRLANDS! Which I don’t find nearly as interesting – though they remind me of the area near Sizewell. I kept walking and the wind picked up noticeably. I’d taken my jumper and hat off when I’d hit the woodland (I was too hot from all the uphill nonsense) and now found myself wishing I’d kept it all on. There was no way I was going to stop and take off my coat to put it all back on though, the wind was fierce and, though the sun was out, it was bloody cold. I walked on. I walked through a gate into another field. I walked on some more…

I find moorland and heathland uninteresting – certainly in spring. It can be more interesting in summer; with all the bugs, insects and butterflies dancing around, but today – in the cold and the wind. Buh – I wanted to be in the forest!

Then I found a reservoir, and next to it a Hayden-sized wall. Perfect for teamaking. So tea I made, and as I sat there I traced the overflow with my finger, following it as it curved under the footpath I’d already walked and snaked around the other side, running gently against the odd wall-looking hillock I’d noticed earlier. I examined the nearby trees and took to their dark canopy. Planted in long rows, they reminded me of the Forest Commission plantations of home.

A little further up the path smoothed, and I got a little cocky and decided I’d do some cycling. Great. Idea. It was so much fun, but I quickly found my trousers, shoes, coat and face coated in mud. I cycled through a river, I accidentally cycled into marshland, I fell off my bike into a ditch… I’ve never really cycled on terrain quite like it, and the landscape offered amazing views of the surrounding countryside (and, of course, of Edinburgh). I met another cycling couple on the other side of a stile, then met the woodland again. I’d only just got into the cover of the trees when I noticed them (or rather, they noticed me). Two deer jumped out ahead of me. I stopped and tried to snatch a picture – but it didn’t come out all that well:

Look for two white bums.
Look for two white bums.

What I found most odd were their large white fluffy tails – they weren’t small things, but large white fluff balls and I thought that was kind of silly – white stands out rather well against the brown and green of the forest. Perhaps that was part of the fun though? Maybe they enjoyed the chase, and the white fluff was there to infuriate the predator. ‘We’re here! Youu-whoo! Come chase us!’

The rest of the route I decided to cycle until I hit a steep hill and fell off, which was quite hilarious – below you’ll find the rest of the pictures I took. Enjoy!

OH! Also, I forgot to mention the musical gate – which I will have to post another time. It was awesome!


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