Over The Hills And Far Away

LETJOG – Day 41: Sunday 27 June – WEST LINTON to LINLITHGOW (22 miles)

Up before the pigs of West Linton!

Today’s section of my LETJOG Challenge was quite arduous, and one of contrasts: a morning hike in the Pentland Hills with not a soul for company, followed by an afternoon walk through the busy heart of Livingston and a final stretch along country lanes.

With a full day in prospect I breakfasted in my room and started walking by 7.30 am, with a chill in the air and the watery sunshine bringing out the lime greens in the hedgerows and around the fairways of West Linton golf course. Poling uphill for three miles, my road morphed first into a single-track lane, then to a private drive and becoming a farm-track, before entering the moorland near Baddinsgill Reservoir as a rocky path. This part of the Cross Borders Drove Road is also known as Thieves Road, harking back to its historic reputation for highwaymen and cattle reivers who would ambush travellers and herders alike along these passes. My crossing of the Pentland Hills marked the end of my journey through the Southern Uplands and my progression into the Central Lowlands of Scotland.

Heading north on the drovers’ path over the grouse moors, approaching the final col of the Pentland range . . .
. . . and, from the summit of Corston Hill, views extended across to Edinburgh, and also to the far-off structures of the Queensferry (road) Crossing and the Forth (rail) Bridge over the Firth of Forth

My ‘right to roam’ entry into the lowlands, down the springy heather of the pathless slopes of Corston Hill, coincided with the emergence of the sun and a distinct rise in temperature that made for a sticky afternoon. The guide books here opt for a route along the banks of the River Almond and the Union Canal towpath, but knowing that similar pleasures await me tomorrow, I decided upon a more direct route through the various central neighbourhoods of Livingston, a 1960’s ‘new town’.

Looking back southwards from the footbridge across the Livingston spine road to the Pentland Hills, and to the col over which I had crossed
Picking my way through the Knightsbridge neighbourhood of Livingston

After a snack lunch in the sun at Dechmont, I left the urban area once more for the countryside, my walk taking me along winding country lanes to Linlithgow through arable fields and pasture, with some pleasing views of distant hills around the northern horizon.

Another glimpse of the Queensferry Crossing, across the fields south of Linlithgow . . .
. . . and the small pontoon on Linlithgow Loch

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