Corstorphine Hill

I wrote at the end of last year about our visit to Blackford hill, one of Edinburgh's seven hills, and we've since visited another one for the first time, Corstorphine hill. We have a great little book of walks around Edinburgh which we used to use regularly but somehow haven't done for a long time. Included in it though is a walk around Corstorphine hill so after finally deciding to visit we got the book out once again to help us explore this new (to us) part of Edinburgh.

Corstorphine hill, just like the other hills that make up Edinburgh, was formed millions of years ago, though this one was by the movement of glaciers, unlike others in Edinburgh that were formed by volcanic activity. Similarly to Blackford hill there is evidence here too of a prehistoric settlement. The hill rises above north west Edinburgh in an L-shaped ridge and has a dense covering of trees on its upper levels, it certainly has far more woodland than any of the other hills of Edinburgh I've visited previously so gives quite a different experience especially in terms of its limited viewing points. As a result of this woodland though it has been designated a nature reserve for the variety of native trees there, a mix of oak, beech and ash, as well as for the colonies of badgers who call it home. 

As you'll see from my photos it was pretty snowy the day we went and this was before the most recent heavy snowfall that hit the UK. It obviously made everywhere look extra pretty but we'll definitely have to go back in the warmer months when it's a little less icy.

The walk we followed began at the entrance on Queensferry Road and took us on a circular route around the hill, though towards the end we went off the route, mainly due to that ice. For the majority of the walk the climb was relatively gentle and not too strenuous, though there are steeper sections too. However given the conditions under foot that day it was probably a little more challenging throughout than it would normally have been.

As we continued on and climbed a little higher we were finally rewarded with some views towards Arthur's Seat, over the Murrayfield golf course towards the city and across the Firth of Forth. Corstorphine hill is also right besides the zoo (somewhere I'm yet to go as well) but we didn't see any of the wilder animals whilst we were there. We did, however, see a sign post labelled 'Rest and Be Thankful' which was once the high spot on the old road into Edinburgh. It was here that travellers would pause to get their first sight of the city. I've since seen some lovely photos from here, it really does look a special spot to get that unique photo across Edinburgh. As you may have guessed we didn't actually get to that part ourselves but in our defence as I said there was a lot of snow and ice up there. In fact I'll admit here that at one point on our walk I slipped right over on a large patch of ice and ended up afterwards with a sore shoulder and some spectacular bruises, exploring every point of the hill just wasn't an option that day. 

Taken just before I slipped right over 😖

One highlight of the hill that we definitely did see though was the Corstorphine Hill tower, also known as Clermiston tower or the Scott tower. It was built as a viewpoint and memorial to Sir Walter Scott in 1871, one hundred years after his birth in 1771. The tower is kept locked usually but does get opened up occasionally and I imagine the views from the top are well worth the climb. I think it has been opened up on previous Doors Open Days, a weekend I always enjoy when times are more normal, hopefully it will be again at some point. Have you been up to the top?

Once we'd seen the tower my bruises etc. and the amount of icy spots around the hill were starting to take their toll so we decided to call it a day. We did get a bit confused getting off the hill and out of the nature reserve in our attempts to avoid those really icy parts but finally managed to exit on to Kaimes Road and from there made our way back towards home. 

Just like Blackford hill, Corstorphine hill seems much more of an area that's enjoyed predominantly by the residents of the city. It's one of those special places that despite being so close to busy roads and built up residential areas is wonderfully peaceful once you're there. If you're yet to visit I really do recommend it but maybe don't go on a snowy, icy day. I imagine with all those trees it must look gorgeous in Autumn when the leaves on the trees have turned their beautiful autumnal colours. It's a great spot and I can't believe it took us so long to actually visit.


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