Bonaly to Flotterstone (approx. 9 miles)

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Maps: OS Explorer 344 - Pentland Hills. map
Start: NT 212 676 - small car park at Bonaly (there is an overflow car park which is only open Saturdays & Sundays and is dependent on surface conditions). There is a larger car park at Flotterstone, which provides an alternative starting point. The route could also be split into two linear walks, using buses to reach Bonaly (Lothian service 10, about 3 buses per hour - bus terminus about half a mile from car park) and Flotterstone (less frequent Stagecoach bus services 101 and 102).
Route: a circular walk, mostly across open moorland, but mainly following clear tracks and paths. The views over Edinburgh and the Forth are stunning. The Iron Age Hill Fort at Castlelaw and the earth house provide additional interest on the walk. There are public toilets part way round the route at Flotterstone Information Centre - and also a pub! The walk can be shorted by about a mile by missing out the leg to Flotterstone.
Links to route files: Ordnance Survey OS Maps online (may only available to OSMaps subscribers) or .gpx (exported from OS Maps app on Android device - can be imported into many devices).
More info: route profile
Refreshments: Flotterstone Inn
Leaving Bonaly Car Park Leave the car park and walk straight ahead (the finger post points to Glencorse). The track is wide and clear (and fairly steep), taking you through a small plantation before leading through a gate onto the open hillside. Once through the gate, continue ahead, still following the sign for Glencorse.
path leading to Bonaly Reservoir Following the fairly steep walk there is a very short stretch of downhill, with the dam at the foot of Bonaly reservoir on your right. The path climbs again to the far corner of the dam
junction of paths above Bonaly Reservoir and another gate leads out on to the open fell. Once through the gate turn left (signed for Allermuir).
junction of paths on the side of Capelaw Hill After just over 100 metres the path forks - take the right hand track. Although the path is still climbing, the ascent is more gentle than the path up to the reservoir.
junction of paths on the side of Capelaw Hill There are a number of paths which have probably been made by walkers taking (steeper) shortcuts. We tried to follow what we thought was the main route, so at the location pictured we took the clearer left fork.
junction of paths on the side of Capelaw Hill At a T junction in paths, we turned right, continuing uphill. It's worth pausing to admire the view to the left, with the whole of Edinburgh city centre in front of the dramatic Arthur's Seat and the Forth estuary beyond.
parallel paths on the side of Capelaw Hill Further up the hill there was another fork in the paths - we took the right hand one, but both paths joined a little further up the hill.
on the side of Capelaw Hill Still climbing gently, the path winds round Capelaw Hill, with Allermuir Hill to the left.
on the side of Capelaw Hill Climb the stile over a stone wall and bear right. After about 80 metres you meet a wide, stony track. Turn right on to this.
path leading over Fala Knowe Follow the track to reach the highest point of the walk.
by the side of Castlelaw Firing Ranges It's then downhill, with Castlelaw Firing Ranges to your right - the red flag signifies that firing is taking place.
Castlelaw Hill Fort Below the firing range can be seen the concentric mounds and ditches of the iron age hill fort. The fort is surrounded by a wire fence - there was a gap which we went through to explore
inside the Earth House Castlelaw Hill Fort and find the Earth House dating from the 2nd century AD. An interpretation board provides information, along with artist's impression of the original structure. After leaving the Earth House we found another interpretation board providing information about the fort. We left the fort through a kissing gate, to rejoin the downhill track
Castlelaw where it ended at a gate through to a small car park. Walk through car park, bear left and then almost immediately turn right
Castlelaw to follow this path signposted to Glencorse Reservoir and Flotterstone. The path leads through a small wooded area. Leave the wooded area through a wooden kissing gate and continue straight ahead (following wooden sign by gate saying Glencorse).
Castlelaw The track leads past a plantation on the left and the firing range on the right.
joining the main track from Flotterstone to Glencorse At the far end of the plantation turn left onto a narrow path (signposted for Flotterstone and Glencorse View Walk). This leads down
Flotterstone Information Centre to meet the main track from Flotterstone to Glencorse. If you wish to shorten the walk, you can turn right and walk directly to Glencorse - but we turned left here to visit Floterstone Information Centre and (more importantly, the Inn).
main track from Flotterstone to Glencorse Here Lin is passing a sheep stall - the interpretation board explains the origin and use of these. Continue through the car park to visit the Inn.

After refreshment we retraced our steps back to
alongside Glencorse Reservoir the point where we joined this track - and then continued ahead to
alongside Glencorse Reservoir Walk alongside Glencorse Reservoir. The track follows the bank of the boomerang-shaped reservoir.
towards Phantom's Cleugh Almost immediately after the path bends sharply to the left, look out for the gate and signs on the right. Take the path on the right signposted for Colinton by Bonaly and Balerno by Harlaw.
towards Phantom's Cleugh After about 260 metres the path divides - take the right fork, signed for Colinton by Bonaly.
old War Department sign, Phantom's Cleugh As on the outward leg of the walk, there is an area where paths become less clear and there are alternatives that meet up again a little further up the valley. Keep heading in a northerly direction with Harbour Hill on your left
Phantom's Cleugh you should pass the first these old War Department signs
junction of paths on the side of Capelaw Hill before coming to a second one by this boundary fence. The path continues gently up the valley (known as Phantom's Cleugh, supposedly named in the late 20th century after a phantom path repairer).
junction of paths on the side of Capelaw Hill Once you reach the watershed, it is possible to see the tops of the pines that surround Bonaly Reservoir. Continue walking towards these ...
junction of paths on the side of Capelaw Hill then look out for the gate and path on left. This is the path that you walked on earlier - re-trace your steps down the fill for just less than a mile to the car park.

Other walks near here:

All text and images ©Graham Dean, May, 2017.

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