Walk of the week: Harlaw Reservoir, near Balerno

Harlaw Reservoir. Picture: Nick Drainey
Harlaw Reservoir. Picture: Nick Drainey
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IT FELT like summer; a sandy beach, my four-year-old hurling stones into the water and a warm sun overhead.

We were only just outside Edinburgh, on the edge of the wonderful Pentland Hills Regional Park and the beach was really a small patch of exposed mud at Harlaw Reservoir. With strict instructions not to enter the water, more stones flew through the air before the two of us continued. Then, as we ambled past Threipmuir Reservoir, a joyous phrase (to his father anyway) emerged from my son’s mouth: “I like walking, Dad.”

This made the pleasant Sunday stroll into something far more epic in my mind – a presage of greater expeditions; maybe all the Munros, the Alps or even the Himalayas.

Reality hit about 500 yards farther on when the words “my legs ache” were emitted with a whine. A fruit bar kept him going, and by the time we returned to the car, thoughts were again turning to bigger walks in the future.

DISTANCE 3 miles.


TIME 1 to 1∫ hours.

MAP OS Landranger 65 or 66.

PARK Turn off the A70 at Balerno and go down Bridge Road for about 300 yards before turning left down Bavelaw Green. After about a third of a mile, as the road goes uphill, turn left down Harlaw Road following a brown sign. Just over a mile further on, go right at a farm (again following a brown sign) to reach a car park about 300 yards down a tarred track.

IN SUMMARY Follow a path next to some disabled parking bays into trees, following a sign for “Harlaw Woodland Walk”. (Don’t take a path on the left.) After about 200 yards, the path reaches a road. Go right and through a wooden gate to reach the Harlaw House Visitor Centre.

Go past the centre and follow a sign pointing right – signed for Threipmuir Reservoir. A track leads over Harlaw Reservoir’s dam then over a wooden bridge. The track continues by the reservoir (with an adjoining path in the trees in places) to reach the Threipmuir Reservoir spillway at the far end.

Cross the spillway by a metal bridge and turn right to reach a track. Go left along the track, below the grass dam of Threipmuir Reservoir – which you can’t see at this point. At the far end you can go left to cut the walk short by returning next to Harlaw Reservoir.

For a longer version, keep straight on, following a sign for Black Springs. The track bears right to enter trees on the edge of Threipmuir Reservoir and becomes more of a path. After leaving the trees the path bears left and continues by the water.

Go straight ahead rather than crossing a causeway to walk close to the water, through gorse. The path then goes left, through a metal gate and uphill through a small band of trees. After passing the top of the little hill go through two more metal pedestrian gates and drop down through trees.

After passing through the next gate, follow a rough track to the left to reach a signpost. Cross a stone stile in a wall and go right on the other side to follow a path. The path leads to the visitor centre.

REFRESH There is a snack bar at the visitor centre on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA You’re right next to Edinburgh with its many attractions. n