Cauldstane & Borestane (C5)

Time – 6 hours

Distance – 22km/14 miles

A long walk out into the high Pentland moorland and to the top of East Cairn Hill at 561m, with superb views to the Ochils, Trossachs, Firth of Forth, Edinburgh and beyond.

The climb is steady apart from one steep section, mostly on well maintained footpaths but with the middle section between Cauldstane Slap and Bore Stane being steep and across rougher moorland. 

Route: Start/Finish – West Linton

drag or scroll this map & hover over info buttons

left texts of map

B: this gap known as the 'Windy Gowl' shows the clear geological split that runs in a straight line up the eastern side of the Pentlands, separating the older Devonian and Silurian rocks of the Pentland hills from the Carboniferous sediments to the west (source of coal and quarries of all kinds) A: traces of the 'Sillar Holes' can still be seen, from which Mary of Guise financed her entire army (the lead from these mines was taken to Holland in the 1550s for turning into the 'sillar' or silver) G: these sykes (springs) are the start of the River Esk. Long ago when this area lay under water, trilobites and ancient fish left their fossil remains here. Stone was also quarried from here for the North Esk Reservoir in (though very much later in Victorian times!) E: when on the top, as well as stunning views, a quick detour to the cairn itself (immediately to the west) is well worthwhile, showing a form of seated stell within the once large fortified cairn C: following up this glen would take you to Wolf Craigs, a narrow cleugh or pass, favoured once by the Covenanters for their conventicles (open air worship) since Wolf Craigs is as remote as it gets! D: the pass or 'bealach' of Cauldstane Slap was a key landmark for the drovers coming in from the north via Falkirk. They very likely left their language here in the word 'coiltean' slap ('wooded' pass) which was indeed the case in the 1200s when this highway also acquired its chilling name of 'Thieves Road' - being no easy place for a lone highlander! F: like Cauldstane, the Borestane or Boar Stane is very likely gaelic in origin, signifying 'bothar' stane ('cattle crossing' stone), especially since its pass (bealach) offered a potentially less risky droving option to the eastern side of the hills than the 'Thieving' alternative at Cauldstane

Leave the village by walking up the Loan, [1a] the unmade road leading uphill from the A702 opposite the Gordon Arms.  This route all the way up to Cauldstane Slap forms part of the Hawick to Harperrig Cross Borders Drove Road. Continue up the Loan for 1.5 km to where a track joins from the left.  Turn right (signposted ‘Carlops/Baddinsgill via Stoneypath’) and continue for 500m, then turn left (signposted ‘Little Vantage via Baddinsgill’), [2] following the track through Stoneypath Farm. Continue for 2 km to where the path descends to the junction of the wire fence on your downhill side and a stone wall running off to the left [3].  Pass through the gate in the wire fence (lift it from its sockets and slide across).  Below you to the left, you will see a set of wooden duckboards leading down the slope towards the Lyne Water and a wooden footbridge some 400m upstream.  Ignore the duckboards, which are unsafe, instead descending to the river by following the line of the wall.

Once down to the water, pass through a gate then follow the water upstream and cross the footbridge, then up the slope to bring you out onto the West Linton to Baddinsgill public road, which forms an alternative route to this point [1b]. Note that if the riverbank is impassable due to erosion, which is likely to be the case at some point in the not too distant future, you can reach the footbridge by retracing your steps back up to above the duckboards and using the gate to access and then cross the field between here and the bridge.

Turn right here and walk along the road up to Baddinsgill, down and up again past the houses until the reservoir comes into view to your right.  Continue to the end of the tarmac road, passing through a gate and onto a track (signposted ‘Little Vantage via Cauldstane Slap’). A few hundred metres further on, you pass through another gate.  Continue ahead, ignoring a turning to the left uphill.

2km later, cross a wooden bridge and continue for 2km more, with the path becoming narrower, until you reach Cauldstane Slap, marked by a wire fence across the path [4]. Roy’s map of 1755 calls the Cauldstane Slap route the ‘Road to Queensferry’. The section of the Old Drove Road you have been following is known as the ‘Thieves Road’, possibly the most important north-south route at the time, along which cattle were driven from the north of Scotland, down through West Linton and on to England.

Cross the fence and immediately turn right, following a path up the steep slope of East Cairn Hill. As the gradient eases the path bears left away from the fence and to the left of a cairn. Continue left and upwards to reach the massive stone shelter at the ‘top’ of East Cairn Hill (not, in fact, the true summit, which is further to the east along the ridge).

Go back along the path and straight on past the cairn, rejoining the fence and following it east along the ridge of the hill to a gap in a wall which you go through. After this, keep straight on with the wall to your right all the way down the hill. At the bottom, pass to the left of a copse of larch and pine, just beyond which is the Bore Stane, [5] a rock formation set into a hollow. Just before a wooden roadway, go right up a path through heather, aiming for a fingerpost sign. Go through a gate at the signpost, following the sign to ‘Carlops’.

Two kilometres on, go through a gate just before North Esk reservoir. On reaching another gate, continue ahead following the signpost for ‘Ninemileburn’ and walk alongside the reservoir to the keeper’s cottage, where you bear right, signposted ‘Carlops’, through a gate onto a track. Follow this track all the way back to Carlops, about 2.5km.

At Carlops, turn right and head southwards along the A702 out of the village. After 100m, [6] turn right along the track to Windy Gowl Farm (signposted ‘West Linton’). This track is known as the Roman Road, which you follow for 5km before coming back to the turning for Stoneypath Farm and then the Loan to take you back down to West Linton.