Whiteadder Reservoir & Priestlaw

Typically, once lock-down rules were slightly relaxed the grey grim usual weather of a Scottish summer appeared. However, it didn’t stop us venturing out for a welcome walk in the hills and some fresh air! We headed out of Edinburgh into the Lammermuir Hills on the edge of the Scottish Borders, a part of the country I haven’t really explored before. After a little google search I came across this short walk starting at Whiteadder Reservoir which takes you up and round Priestlaw. The path in general was fine, in the main a slightly rocky track but a small part was on tarmac roads. The weather however was grey and misty, but unusually warm and for once, not raining.

Start Point: Whiteadder Reservoir, Garvald
Distance: 6.75 miles
Time: Approx. 3 hours (Inc. time for photo stops)
Difficulty: Easy – Medium, an ascent at the beginning of the walk, then flat or downhill the rest of the way.

For this walk we parked up in the lay-by opposite the Scottish Water sign at Whiteadder Reservoir, there is parking there for about 4 cars, there is another lay-by a bit further down the hill with room for a few more. We crossed the main road and headed down the road towards the reservoir.

Keeping the reservoir on your left continue down the path, which then starts to wind up hill a bit, you will then come across Priestlaw Farm and the end of the tarred road. It does look like you are walking through someone’s house, but keep going until the path becomes more track like and you head up onto the hill.

All you need to do now, is follow the track, which gradually climbs uphill, for what feels like a long time, but you get a great view of the reservoir as you climb. For us it was a tad foggy and we thought we saw snow at one point! Further inspection revealed it was large sections of wild cotton!

As you reach the peak of the climb and the path opens out onto open moor, to your left there is faint track which will take you to the top of Priestlaw Hill. Given the weather we didn’t venture up, but on a good day you are sure to get a great view. If you do this, to complete the walk just come back to the path and continue your walk through moorland. A gate and signpost will come into sight after about another mile or so and this takes you onto a tarmac road. Open (and then close!) the gate, and turn right.

Continue walking along this road, you might get some companions (sheep!) on the way, and you will see eventually a Welcome to East Lothian sign and to the right, a track. This is where you are headed. Once you have reached where the road and track meet, there is another signpost marked Herring Road to Dunbar via Whiteadder Reservoir and this is where you want to walk.

From here, it’s just a pretty flat walk all the way back towards the reservoir for about 2 miles. You will then see a farmhouse in the distance, this is Penshiel Farm. If you look up to the left you will be able to see some ruins, one is the remains of a monastic site, and the other standing stones. You will also get a great view of the reservoir. Keep walking until the track changes back to a tarmac road. Follow this down to the road that runs parallel to the reservoir, which you walked along previously.

Here, turn left and follow the road round, with reservoir on your right. The road heads uphill again for one final time before reaching the start of your walk and your car.

This was an enjoyable walk, which can be done in either direction. It would also make a good trail on a mountain or gravel bike, not that long but you could incorporate it with a longer ride in the Lammermuirs.