Not much hiking activity lately, but off to the Sierra de Grodos incentral Spain soon…meanwhile, I gave my footwear a tryout in beautiful spring weather in the Pentlands, a stone's throw from Edinburgh, yesterday. These shoes definitely need replacing before a longer trip as basically, they don’t fit!
The Pentlands are so easy to reach from central Edinburgh - the no.44 bus takes you to Balerno in 20 minutes from where you are in open country in a further 5 minutes on foot. My plan was to cross the hills to the west and catch the hourly bus from Flotterstone - probably no more than 5 miles. My route followed the Malleny Mills, past Malleny House until you reach the open moorland by the Harlaw reservoir.
Clear wide paths all the way and not much climbing, so easy and impossible to get lost (the signage in the Pentland Park is good too). Lots of sheep with new lambs add to the spring feeling and everywhere dry underfoot.
After an hour or two, you cross the watershed and look down westwards on Glencorse reservoir.
From there I thought I’d take a short detour to see the ‘souterrain’ (prehistoric earth house) at Castlelaw - interesting enough, though heavily restored (ie rebuilt). The view from the adjacent hill (also a former prehistoric settlement) gives a better view of the hill fort it lies inside.
As it was still early and I had plenty of energy, I decided to walk back to Edinburgh rather than catch the bus. The broad gravel track isn’t the most picturesque, but gives good views and is quick. Although the weather was beautiful, you could see how poor the air quality was over eastern Scotland, the Forth bridges (third one now appearing) barely visible.
The path down the Howden burn forks to Bonaly or Dreghorn. I took the latter route, not quite sure where this was leading. Under the bypass it comes to the back of the Dreghorn Barracks and then through rather quaint and peaceful military housing, children planing in all the streets, before a short hop home on the 27 bus.
I recently learned of this resource about historic routes a bit closer to home, in Scotland...lots on information about drove roads, Roman roads, pilgrim routes etc...
Just back from a week in Crete with my brother who lives in California.
This wasn't a hiking break as such but I was impressed by the E4 route which crosses Crete in several alternative sections east to west (or vice versa, obviously). It crosses each of Crete's three big (2000m+) mountain massifs as well as following sections of coast and would make a great expedition with plentiful accommodation, natural and archaeological sites/sights. We hiked up the Rouvas Gorge to the high country where the E4 proper joins from the lovely mountain village of Zaros, where most of Crete's bottled water seems to come from. The Rouvas hike is pretty straightforward, but still possible to get lost (as always!); didn't see much birdlife but did see a nice slowworm. A monk at the St Nicholas monastery on the return gave us a look at their frescos and the best Raki to be had in Crete!
Another day we walked down the very short (20 mins) Trachoulas gorge to an almost-deserted beach near Lendas on the southern coast). The mountains here, south of the Messara plain, are very dry and inhospitable. Apparently good for birds of prey, though we didn't see any.
I get a particular thrill from stumbling across a bit of Roman road or a bridge while hiking about...I've found something in each of the hikes (apart from Gran Canaria) on this website so far. I'm planning another trip to Andalucia in late April (Ronda towards Tarifa, based roughly on Guy Hunter Watts 'Coast to Coast' walk) and plan to take in sections of Roman Road at Ubrique and Castellar de la Frontera. I'd be interested to hear of any other little-known remans in the approximate area.
Here are a few thoughts on past and future hikes....
Carole Scott’s walking blog has some lovely Garfagnana pics.
John Hayes’ amazing hiking blog includes a daily description of the epic walk from Tarifa to Budapest (and a lot more).
Though from a cyclists perspective, this is an interesting and thoughtful description of travel on Andalucia’s ‘Via verdes’