14 km; 4-5 hours
A strenuous but rewarding circular walk along the ridge of the Pentlands between Baddinsgill and the North Esk reservoir and then across to East Cairn Hill, returning via the Thieves Road, with spectacular views in all directions.
Route: start/finish – Baddinsgill
Park in the open area at the end of the public road up to Baddinsgill, taking care not to block any gates. Walk back down the road towards West Linton and over the cattle grid, turning left off the road shortly afterwards at a fingerpost, following the ‘Carlops via Stoneypath’ sign. Go down the slope and then over the wooden footbridge to follow the Lyne Water a short way downstream. Bear left to follow the dry stane dyke across a field then through a gate and on up a short but steep slope. The right of way takes you over some wooden duckboards – these can be very slippery, so it is preferable to keep left and walk alongside the wall.
At the top of the slope, turn right onto a track and follow it uphill. Just beyond the point where the track reaches its highest point, you come to a gate and a dry-stane dyke. Don’t go through the gate – instead, turn left uphill along the line of the wall. You will keep the wall to your right now for 2km all the way up to the summit of Mount Maw. On the way up, the views are superb, particularly those of Baddinsgill reservoir below you.
Pass the trig post at the summit and continue along the ridge, now with a wire fence on your right. The path undulates along the ridge and over the top of Grain Heads at 532m, with views of the Forth Bridge on a good day. The path passes a little to the west of the top of the Mount before dropping steeply into Deer Hope, the gap between the Mount and Wether Law. Skirt around the boggy area at the bottom and continue up Wether Law, still following the fence. The route once again stays to the west of the summit and then dips down steeply. The fence is at this point joined by a dry stane dyke, which you will follow up among crags to reach the wide, open summit ridge of East Cairn Hill.
Continue to follow the wall as the terrain levels out until it meets another dry stane dyke at right angles. Turn left here to walk alongside the new wall along the ridge, heading for the large cairn visible ahead at the far end. After a short distance, the wall turns right, while a fence continues ahead. Follow the fence, crossing it so you are walking on its right side, still aiming for the large cairn, which is a good place to detour off the route for a lunch stop.
Continue to follow the fence as it bears left, just by a small cairn, and then heads steeply downhill. Soon after you reach the bottom of the hill, the fence reaches a gate and stile. Turn left here to cross the stile, following the sign for ‘West Linton’. This route will take you along the old Thieves Road footpath all the way back down to Baddinsgill (4km), passing the reservoir along the way.