After leaving the waterside we started to climb into the purple heather (Calluna vulgaris)-covered moors.
One of the nice things about being on a date with a man who studied wildlife and countryside management is that he told me all about not only the local wildlife but also how the landscape is managed. The heather is burned in patches, called muirburn in Scotland, to create ideal conditions for breeding grouse, which are then shot for sport by paying clients. The practice is said to increase grouse yields as post-burning, grouse eat the the nutritious young shoots of emerging heather and then seek shelter and breed in the taller patches.
It's a controversial practice, especially in such a class-conscious land as Britain. More details are in this article.
As we climbed higher up the first hill, the burned heather patches are clearly visible in this view north toward the Forth of Fife. The city of Edinburgh is behind that brown hill on the right.
Scottish Blackface sheep, the most common breed in the U.K., covered the Pentland Hills.
View to the south of the Pentlands, toward the Scottish Borders.
We finally crested the top of this chain of hills, and hiked the ridgetops of West Kip (1808 ft) and East Kip taking in incredible views into the valleys on either side and all the way out to the ocean. The wind was absolutely fierce, and after being nearly blown off a few summits we descended down through the heather again. In all we did 13 miles and saw a lot of neat stuff--and got back to the car just as the clouds returned and it started to rain. Now that's a perfect day of Scottish hillwalking!