The River North Esk rises near the Bore Stane high in the Pentland Hills above the North Esk Reservoir. The reservoir was built by a consortium of Penicuik mill owners in 1850 to help regulate the flow of water in the river to give a constant supply to the numerous paper mills which had sprung up in the valley. The engineer responsible was Thomas Stevenson, father of Robert Louis Stevenson. As the mills closed down, the last one to close only in 2004, the reservoir became a wildlife sanctuary. The area is a SSSI in two categories, biologically for the special flora and geologically for the unusual exposures west of Patie's Hill.
Watch the Video (extract from 'The North Esk River, From Source to Sea')
There are several reservoirs and many footpaths in the Pentland Hills, a large area of which forms the Pentland Hills Regional Park. The Park is farmed with grazing cattle and sheep roaming the hills and grouse shooting in season. Keeping to established paths will help to conserve valuable habitats and avoid disturbing ground nesting birds. There are two army training grounds. Place names such as Monks Rig, ancient hill forts and the remains of a Roman Road show that the Pentlands have played a role in forming Scottish history. They have proved to be a great source of inspiration to poets and artists over the centuries, notably Robert Louis Stevenson. Stevenson's 'Hills of Home' feature in many of his works and he remained haunted by the Pentlands until his death in Samoa in 1894.
The North Esk Reservoir is out-with the Park area but there are paths to the reservoir and beyond, rising to the point known as the Bore Stane, an outcrop of rock from where magnificent views of Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth can be seen. One starting point to explore this area is from the village of Carlops where there is a convenient small car park.