It may still be fairly dark outside and spring is still to come into full bloom but that doesn’t mean it is too gloomy to enjoy a great walk.

Blackford Hill can make a brilliant place to head on shorter days as it is the site of Edinburgh’s Royal Observatory which has sessions open to the public (if you book ahead) until the end of April, allowing a bit of stargazing after a stroll.

It is also one of the best places to view all seven of Edinburgh’s hills. Across in the city centre are Arthur’s Seat, Castle Rock and Calton Hill while Corstorphine Hill and Wester Craiglockhart Hill lie further out. The walk begins along the Braid Burn and beyond this are the Braid Hills. The seventh hill is Blackford Hill itself – which you obviously can’t miss when you are standing on top of it.

Start the walk at a sign on a stone wall for Hermitage of Braid and drop down from Braid Road to a bridge over Braid Burn. Just before it take a path on the left, following the side of the burn.

This burn is one of the hidden gems of Edinburgh, lying in a lush glen dotted with rocky outcrops, so take your time to enjoy it before beginning the walk up Blackford Hill.

After passing a 17th century doocot the path joins a track on the right to reach Hermitage House, which you can enter. Take a path on the opposite side of the burn from the house and follow it by the water’s edge and over three footbridges to a larger bridge. Don’t cross the burn at this point, instead go left, uphill.

As the path goes round to the left, the gradient eases slightly and a field is reached on the left. At this point look for a path going up a long flight of steps to the right (the start of this path almost doubles back on the main one). At an open expanse of grass go left after a telecommunications mast and keep going round in a loop to reach the trig point and viewfinder on top of Blackford Hill. Enjoy the view (and try to pick out all of Edinburgh’s hills) before heading east towards the Royal Observatory. Bear right before the building and once past construction work on new buildings go down a path to the right which almost immediately bears left. Go left at a fork lower down then bear right to drop downhill, across a number of other paths to a flight of steps. At the bottom go right, along a wide path which leads by the Braid Burn all the way back to the start. TC

Distance: 3 miles

Time: 1½ to 2 hours

OS Landranger: 66

Start/finish point: At the bottom of Braid Road, near a sign for Hermitage of Braid, where there is plenty of parking.
Published: February 2018