Time – 2-3 hours; Distance – 12km/7 miles
A good walk out into the high Pentland moorland and to the top of West Cairn Hill at 562m. While not as long as other ‘C – difficult’ walks, the middle section climbing up West Cairn Hill is very tough going, crossing open and boggy moorland and then climbing steeply. There are superb views to the Ochils and Trossachs and to the Firth of Forth and beyond.
Start/Finish – Baddinsgill
From the A702, drive up the public road to Baddinsgill. Park in the open area at the end of the public road and continue on foot north along the tarmac road down hill and up again 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’). After a few hundred metres, pass through a small plantation and go through another gate. 100m later, a track branches off to the left. Follow this track clockwise around the base of Muckle Knock hill for 2km until the long ridge of West Cairn Hill rises ahead of you.
As you progress, you will pass a disused quarry where the track bears left slightly, after which it becomes fainter and eventually disappears altogether. Continue in the same direction (roughly north) across 500m or so of open and boggy moorland, aiming for a small crag on the ridge ahead of you.
Climb straight up the hill towards the crag until a dry stane dyke comes into view. Follow the wall uphill until it reaches a 90 degree angle at its highest point, where you will find a trig point and small cairn marking the summit of West Cairn Hill.
Now follow the dyke eastwards (right) and downhill. The wall turns slightly to the left twice – at the second turn, a fence continues straight ahead. Leave the wall and follow the fence 100m down to a finger post marking the Cauldstane Slap. Turn right here following the West Linton sign. The footpath from here follows an old drove road, known as the ‘Thieves Road’.
Follow the footpath for 4km all the way back down to Baddinsgill.