David & I decided to run across a few of the hills in the Pentlands as a training run for our ever closer participation in the Pentland Skyline race.
I had never been in this area before, so I was looking to David as my guide. However, we were both unsure of the eventual route as this was our first off road experience.
We set off from the car park just outside Balerno and got running. David had warned me about the rise that was about to come, a lovely, seemingly never ending rise up to the end of the private road. It was definitely a warming experience to kick start this run.
Upon entering the fields, we stopped briefly to read the map and scout the landscape, we set off in the favoured direction, toward the big hill on our left, Black Hill (501m).
We misread the map a little and had to back track slightly but hey, only another couple of hundred metres on the overall. We found our way again and set off to the ‘path’ leading up Black Hill. Running was good, to start with as the path was just good enough to navigate. However, we did find the gradient and ever deepening heather was slowing us down, not to mention sapping our energy.
We slogged onwards and upwards, occasionally stopping for a few photos along the way. We couldn’t have picked a better evening to go for a run.
We eventually reached the top, through a combination of running and walking. All this heather and now, no path had us choosing routes that ‘looked good’. however, the top was completed, sweaty but complete with a photo for posterity.
After stopping briefly to catch our breath and a look at the map again, we set off… downhill and onward to our next hill, Bells Hill (406m). We could already see that the next one would be steeper and more arduous.
After picking our way through the heather again on the way down, as we went off grid for a bit, we reached the bottom of Black Hill and a path.
We didn’t stop long here, making our way up, and I do mean UP Bells Hill. The grade was, steep. No running happened really all the way up this route, just steady pushing hard steps, upwards.
The top was reached after much sweat, and a few stops to admire the ever enriching sun set.
The route before us to the path below wasn’t all that clear, more like a 100mm space that sheep have used for walking. However, it was navigable and we headed downwards towards our next ‘check point’. I do have to say, I enjoy the down, making up speed and for the rather slow uphill pace earlier. Not so sure David enjoys downhill as much though!
We navigated to our next check point and stopped to check the map. Deciding that it would be good(?) to add one last hill before heading back to our start point. So, up Harbour Hill (421m) we went. As this was the last hill, we actually ran most of the way and the ‘summit’ was reached relatively quickly. Again, we stopped to look at the view across to Edinburgh, and to take in the race route.
Knowing we had done a few of the ‘harder’ hills made up for the sweat previously. However, I’m sure there will be a lot more sweat on the day!
After completing the last hill, we headed back down to the gate and towards the car-park, some 4miles (approx) away. As this is relatively flat, good time was made back.
David even had enough in the legs to leave me some 200m behind on the final push towards the finish line. Maybe I shouldn’t have waited for him on the downhill sections.
Overall, we completed what we set out to do and felt pretty good afterwards. Tired legs for sure but happy hearts.