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The Dog Rambler

Tuesday

20 E-diary
April 2010

Walk Pentland contrasts – hill and glen Length 7.2


miles
Dogs on walk Dylan, Finn, Struan, Talaidh

Blue skies drew us into The Pentland Hills for today’s walk with Dylan, the Pointer, Finn,
the Hungarian Vizsla and Struan and Talaidh the Dalmatians. The walk was a great
Pentland contrast with the first half being over some of the Hills and the second half in a
tranquil glen with its soothing reservoirs of shimmering hill and sky reflected water.

We parked the Jeep at the big car park at Flotterstone just off the main road from
Edinburgh to Biggar. In the tree nestled car park we got the first indication that there
may be blue sky but this did not herald warm weather as a cold north westerly wind
played its discordant music through the branches. I was glad I had remembered my gloves.

The dogs cheerfully gathered into a group beside me as we made our way out of the car
park. Dylan feeling quite at home despite it being only his second walk with the others.
Finn is always eager to make friends with other dogs and never seems too taken aback
when I open the Jeep door to reveal a new companion for him.

Out of the car park the walk followed a gentle path through a line of Scots Pine trees
running parallel to the service road for the reservoirs and the farms in the glen. As with
our last walk together Dylan was keen to be the pace setter striding out in front, with
Struan letting him this time and not competing for the lead spot. Finn was all over the
place almost as if he had split into several parts, full of nervous energy and eager to spend
a bit of time with each of the other dogs.

We soon reached the end of the trees and the vista of the glen and surrounding hills
opened out in front of us reflecting a welcoming burr from the sallow sun. To our left the
heights of Turnhouse Hill beckoned to us, with its small Scots Pine copse clinging onto its
shoulder. We turned toward it crossing the road and a stream, where the dogs drunk
liberally. Except for Finn who was in his people wary mood again and was hanging on the
other side of the stream as four children came down the slope, keen to greet the dogs.

Our climb began in earnest now. The path up the shoulder of the hill deceives the eye but
not the legs. Soon its incline is felt in the heat of the muscles. Not so for the dogs, who
were ranging about in the long moorland grass, still in its pale colour of Spring. Again
Dylan was ahead but not for long as his wider marauding through the grass allowed the
rest of us to catch him. As Dylan continued to roam, Finn joined him in shadowing
movements. And a chase ensued. Struan and Talaidh knowing what was ahead just ambled
along the path.

Reaching the Scots Pines, seen from below, the full extent of the hill began to reveal itself
curling upwards to our left, with quite a climb still to the summit. All of this was hidden
from our path at the bottom. As usual, sheep were cast across the lower slopes, with most
keeping a sensible distance from the path. I kept an eye ahead or any that may have been
drawn near the path. Despite my keen observation it was Dylan who spotted some closer
ones first. With Dylan being ahead and with the sheep in a dip in the ground they were
hidden from me. On seeing them Dylan promptly sat down and just looked, leaving me
none the wiser but curious as to his actions. He proceeded to do this several more times
during the walk when sheep appeared. Finn becoming a regular with sheep barely gave
them a glance. He knew they offered no fun being off limits.

Whereas a drift of snow still hugging the hillside, in a heathery basin, was just what he
needed. As though he had not seen snow for such a long time, not the two weeks of
reality, he thundered into it and threw himself about as if wrestling with an invisible
opponent.
We rounded the summit of Turnhouse (1,660 feet), revealing a line of hills like teeth in the
lower jaw of a dog. Finn in his mystical way managed to discover a stick on the barren
moorland grass top. However, as he was showing it off Dylan ripped it from his grasp and
headed with the hope of a chase; which happened. As the others go bored not catching him
he offered the stick to Struan for a game of tug. The upshot of this being Struan ended up
the last dog with the stick.

Hugging the other side was another patch of snow, dazzling against the washed out grass.
Finn was in again but this time followed by the others. The stick was forgotten. They all
leaped around in an ecstasy of fun, which only snow can create. Dylan threw himself in
tight circles until I was dizzy. Finn leapt up and down and Struan and Talaidh were
chasing each other through it.

The chasing around continued as we descended the south western slope, preparing
ourselves for the ascent up Carnethy Hill. The wind whipped our bodies, trying to push us
sideways off or path. However, overhead a stubborn dark cloud refused to be moved
despite the strength of the wind. It held firm and in doing so kept the sun away from us
making it feel even colder. This was of no consequence to the dogs whose running around
was surly keeping them very warm. The climb up Carnethy (1,879 feet) did the same for
me.

From the top it was now downhill into the glen below to our right. Nearing the floor of the
glen we had another close encounter with some sheep, which were content to watch lazily
as we passed between them as the dogs made for a very welcome stream.

In the glen the wind was curtailed by the surrounding hills and the sun broke though
lighting up the Reservoir. Our path was flat along the access road and we rambled along at
a fair pace with the promise of the comfy Jeep drawing us forward. The dogs by now
feeling the pace of their hilltop chasing kept quite a close cabal around me. We glided the
three miles back to Flotterstone, with the hills standing sentinel over us and the reservoir
throwing us a reflected glimpse of the high ground we had covered.

Back at the Jeep there were no complaints from the dogs about getting in and settling
themselves down for the journey home.

Nick
Photo slideshow from the walk

E-diaries now also available at www.scribd.com/TheDogRambler

Nick Fletcher
The Dog Rambler
9 Links Street
Musselburgh www.thedogrambler.com
East Lothian nick@thedogrambler.com
EH21 6JL t. 0131 665 8843 or 0781 551 6765

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