Back in the mid-1990s I used to work for Scottish Conservation Projects in Pathcraft Team 06. We worked across Scotland as a mobile team but we worked on two path projects near where I now live in Edinburgh: The paths at the very top of Arthur’s Seat and a path on the NW shoulder of Carnethy in the Pentlands.
Shadow the dog and I went to explore the route Team 06 used to follow from the Kirk Road up towards the pass over onto the NW shoulder. An immediate change from 20 years ago was the ‘Footpath’ signpost that indicated the grassy route we used to use.
Shadow and I followed that to the fence, where I had to lift him over using his harness. We then wended our way up the hill to the top part of the path just below the summit of Carnethy. Sadly, the clag was down and my hopes of getting some good panoramas of the hills on the other side of the reservoirs were thwarted. Shadow is no fan of ascent, so it was quite a zig-zag route. To be fair, his legs are a lot shorter than mine and he is not built for the heathery slopes.
We emerged onto the path and had a quick look at some of the waterbars right at the top of the path. These have held up well but the very top one is suffering from the widening of the path by the tramping of many feet, so is not catching all the water.
We carried on to the summit in an increasingly strong wind, which Shadow was not enjoying, and reached the cairn that marks the top.
A number of other tops in the Pentlands have substantial cairns on them. Some are confidently dated to the Bronze age but the one atop Carnethy has no age assigned.
We pressed back down towards the point where of the ridge path and the Kirk Road interest in the pass above The Howe. A few red grouse where the only other obvious life as we headed down and turned back towards the car. We dropped down past the familiar gate where runners turn onto a different route on the Carnethy 5 hill race and headed back across the field. Another relic of the former landuse lies by the burn here where old enclosure marks can be seen and are still the subject of active archaeological investigation.
At this point a hill-runner passed us. Possibly the lone runner was recceing for the Carnethy 5 in a couple of weeks time. Shadow and I trotted back and watched the runner head off up the grassy slope of the footpath we had started on first thing. The end is the beginning is the end.
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