Moorfoot Skyline

November 2007

A run not to be missed. The Moorfoots. Where are they? Look south from Arthur's Seat, down the valley towards Penicuik - Pentlands on your right, over on the left are the higher Moorfoots. When John's (JBF) email arrived to do the annual pre-dinner run (without the dinner), some of us (i.e. me) thought, nice outing. Arriving at Gladhouse on Saturday morning, only ten runners - obviously they knew something I didn't!

We took a direct line up Jeffries Corse and thence to Dundreich (622 m). Oz and I thought this was a trad horseshoe, and inclined towards Bowbeat Hill, now covered in wind turbines, while the others shot down to the Long Cleave. According to Keith, the summit route here is awful, in the end we followed the others to the valley at the Cleave. Here we waved goodbye to Willie and crew, and after a sharp up to Blackhope Scar (651) Shane and Louise headed off. Numbers falling precipitously, a slightly mad core group elected to do the full monty before anyone could change their mind. Next, the long run down over Garvald Law, after reaching the Hope Burn a 45 degree traverse steep right up (a most unusual route; JBF pointing left while Keith ascended right). Over to Windy Slack, and then an interesting 'path' possibly an old drove road, up to the gate not far from Torfichen Hill, with superb views over the Gladhouse reservoir to Carnethy in the distance.

From here, a bit of endurance. Karl, Oz and Alan sped off while I stuck to JBF's heels (good strategy, John holds the circuit record) along the long mire via Mauldsie Hill (513) and, just around the Kips, cut right down towards Gladhouse. Here the front runners encountered a young deer caught in a mean snare-trap. By the time John and I arrived the others had succeeded in releasing the poor beast which promptly bounded away over the hill without too much evidence of lasting damage! Speedy descent to Moorfoot Village, pausing at the ruin of Hirendean Castle (Heringdean, c. 1610; Heeringlon Kirk c. 1750), an old dun. Keith and I discussed the dating of the dry valley walls on the return to Gladhouse.

This 16 mile / 1000 m circuit is wonderfully wild terrain, a tough run, harder than the Pentland Skyline (though a similar length) but in some ways more rewarding. All of it, almost, is 'off track', eternal heather-hopping, with a pay-off between the delights of running free down steep soggy slopes and the dreaded tussocks. Keith, an aficionado of glutinous lumps, rates the tussocks on Huntly Cot as the worst in Scotland - ankle-crunching and knee-wrenching horrors. At least one runner in front disappeared into the morass, to emerge kicking and spitting the local peat. A great day's run, thanks John!


It has been pointed out that the route varies markedly. Variations on the optimum line for the Moorfoot "Skyline" (see Keith's map) have been vigorously promoted over the years, he would welcome comments and insights!


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