Hill: East Cairn Hill
Date: Thursday 28th December 2017
Company: Myself and Ann-Marie
Distance: 10.4km, Ascent: 340m
Time: 4Hrs 5Mins

On Wednesday evening, I drove part-way home from the Lake District, parking-up circa twelve miles away from Edinburgh with a view to ascending East Cairn Hill the following morning. The journey from the Lakes towards Edinburgh was "interesting" as temperatures en-route dropped as low as -9C. Our parking spot was positively balmy in comparison at -5C .

On Thursday morning I travelled to the starting point, parked-up in the car park, and got suited and booted. The weather from the outset and throughout the walk was perfect albeit a tad chilly.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

From the car park, Ann-Marie set off ahead as I faffed about re-packing my rucksack and taking photographs. There was fresh snow underfoot from start to summit and the ground was frozen hard.

Sunrise glow above East Cairn Hill and West Cairn Hill (Ann-Marie in distance):

Despite Ann-Marie's headstart, I soon caught-up as we progressed along the Cross Borders Drove Road. In non-frozen conditions, this track would be a bogfest. I was therefore glad of the sub-zero temperatures.

Heading for East Cairn Hill:

We followed the track as far as the base of East Cairn Hill and began a steep trackless ascent from the broken waymarker post in the next photo. Had we walked circa fifty metres further along the track we would have found a track ascending the hill . Breaking trail up through the fresh snow was however quite fun and the nearby track, which we used in descent, was quite icy and slippery in comparison.

Steep ascent ahead:

During the ascent another walked caught up with us by following my trail up the hill. We chatted briefly before continuing up the steep slopes.

Looking across to West Cairn Hill from East Cairn Hill:

During the ascent I took some full-zoom photos looking towards the three bridges over the Forth.

Queensferry Crossing, Forth Road Bridge and Forth Bridge from East Cairn Hill:

Ascending East Cairn Hill:

On drawing almost level with a large boulder, I took a photo of the slopes and boulder with the sun behind the boulder.

Steep slopes:

On reaching easier ground we made our way across to the large cairn and even larger summit shelter marking the 561m top of East Cairn Hill. The featureless 567m summit lay circa 500m beyond.

Onto easier ground:

The Pentlands looked lovely clad in snow.

The Pentlands:

The 561m top is a much better viewpoint than the 567m summit beyond. We were rewarded with great views towards the Forth bridges, Edinburgh and Arthur's Seat.


At the 561m top of East Cairn Hill:

Thanks to Ann-Marie for the next photo of myself dressed like a hill ninja in an effort to keep warm.

Hill ninja:

From the 561m top we made our way down to the col and then followed the fenceline to the summit.

Heading across to the featureless summit (567m):

At the summit we stopped for a drink and some chocolate before returning to the 561m top.

View from the summit of East Cairn Hill:

View towards 561m top from 567m summit:

From the 561m top we followed the track downhill and then back out to the starting point. During the walk out we met several other walkers and a bird watcher.

Looking back to East Cairn Hill:

2017 has been one of the worst years I can recall for poor weather. This day, and the two days previous, were outstanding. This weather made the 7+ hour journey south worth the effort.

All the best for 2018 .