Castlelaw, Edinburgh

A large hill

Castlelaw is a hill that rises steeply from the valley to the northern tops of the Pentland Hills in Midlothian, Scotland. It is best known for the Iron Age hill fort on its slopes. When it was occupied the site consisted of three earthwork ramparts, ditches and timber palisades. The fort also contained a Souterrain for the storage of agricultural produce. 

The fort commands views over the Forth and Lothian. Traprain Law and Berwick Law, both significant centres of power in the Iron Age, are also visible from the site. 

Mounds, of the Fort in the distance

The fort is maintained by Historic Environment Scotland as a scheduled monument.

The military training area comprises Castlelaw Ranges and Dreghorn Dry Training Area. It borders Edinburgh and lies within the Pentland Hills Regional Park, a total of 775 hectares. Castlelaw Ranges are situated on the south side of Castlelaw Hill. Dreghorn Dry Training Area extends from the Edinburgh City By-Pass at Dreghorn Mains to Flotterstone and from Bonaly Reservoir to Fulford. The area is dominated by three peaks, Allermuir, Capelaw and Castlelaw which rise to heights of 493m, 454m and 488m respectively. 

The highpoints of the training area give stunning views across the city, the Firth of Forth and on a clear day the Highlands beyond. The area is home to some rare habitats and wildlife including small numbers of black grouse.

The walks

Route 1 – Castlelaw Hill Circular: A 4.7km (2.9 mile) walk that takes in the Castlelaw Hill Fort and Subterrain before skirting all the way around Castlelaw, and returning to the car park at Castlelaw.

Route 2 – Castlelaw & Capelaw Circular: A 9.4km (5.8 mile) route that again passes by Castlelaw Hill Fort and Subterrain before heading north towards Edinburgh, dropping down to the Dreghorn side of the Training Area before returning via the side of Capelaw. This route also skirts Castlelaw to return to the starting point at Castlelaw Car Park.

Route 3 – Castlelaw Dreghorn Circular: A 13.2km (8.2 mile) loop from Castlelaw Car Park heading north to Dreghorn via Chuckie Knowe, returning via Capelaw and Harbour Hill. The route heads off the MOD estate into the wider Pentland Hills Regional Park towards Maidens Cleuch and joins the quiet public road that runs alongside Glencorse reservoir. The route then follows a path back onto MOD land that returns you to the Castlelaw Car Park.

Be aware and take care

  • Castlelaw is a military training area. Please check the calendar of live firing times before visiting the area.
  • Unscheduled firing may take place without warning, and firing may be cancelled without notice. Please ring the 24/7 Regional Ops Room - 0131 310 3426 for more information.
  • Red flags (red lights by night) will be displayed whenever the range is active.
  • The Scottish Outdoor Access Code provides detailed guidance on access to land in Scotland.
  • Don’t touch or pick up any military debris. No matter how small or insignificant it looks it could explode! If you find something take a photo and show it to the nearest warden or call the Police on 101.
  • If you’re out and about with your dog, please pick up after it and take particular care where cattle and young livestock are grazing. Read the MOD dog walking guide for more information.
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