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Report on Pentlands
17 January 2010   (3624 views)

Turnhouse Hill, Carnethy Hill and Scald Law,

The Pentlands
17th January 2010

Attendees: Irene, Denise, James, Mhairi, Ross, Grant, Tom, Mark, Gail and Dorothy.

This was a walk Irene had arranged with her friends from work but she decided to put an invitation out to all Craggy members to come along too.

We met at Flotterstone Ranger centre at 11am. The carpark was really busy when we arrived, I have never seen it quite so bad. Anyway, introductions over, we set on our way along the thick ice which was the road. We went through the gate and on to the open hillside heading up Turnhouse Hill.

It was at this point that Irene reminded us of the robbery that had occurred here on 17 January 1985, twenty five years ago to the very day. I have copied a passage from Wikipedia and added it at the end of the report.

Anyway, we continued up the hill and although not a huge hill, it is quite steep and was made more difficult by the snow which was quite thick in places. The sky was clear and the view over Penicuik was fine but I think we were all too cold to get the cameras out. As we continued up the hill, Denise and James were running, yes, running, while some of us were struggling to breathe. When we reached the top we had a quick look around and then continued on, descending for about 200 metres where we had a quick lunch before the ascent of Carnethy Hill. The wind was now quite fierce and very,very cold. We didn?t linger at this cairn for long before continuing on our way towards Scald Law. The snow was really deep in places here and Irene brought out her survival bag then some of the group had turns each of sliding down the hill, it was a laugh and there was a fair amount of whooping and squealing. (that was mostly me, and I was just taking pictures).

After a while we thought we better get on our way again. It wasn?t long until we reached the trig point and we finally got some photos taken. Again we didn?t linger too long in the biting wind, but headed off again, with Tom and Grant racing around and having fun in the thick snow. Where do they get their energy? We had decided to head north now, towards the Howe and Loganlea Reservoir. The snow was really deep here and the ascent was very steep so Gail and Irene decided to slide down on their bums. I had one look and thought ?what the heck? and quickly followed suit. What a great way to get down, one by one we all sped down, it was great and so quick. Fun over, and back on our feet again we carried on through the snow and over two fences until we got to the path at the Howe.

We waited her for everyone to catch up and had a contest to see who had the wettest bum. The girls voted Grant and the guys voted Mhairi, but not before we had them turn round a few times for closer inspection. We then took the wee path that would lead us round the base of Black Hill, with Thriepmuir Resevoir on our left. Again the snow was really thick in places and walking was difficult at times. After almost an hour of walking on this, the snow got thinner and we thought that everything would be plain sailing now, but no, we were now in a bog and as light was fading, it was difficult to manoeuvre through it. Our aim now was to get to Logan Cottage before dark.

Mark and I got there first and had a wee snack while we watched the others approaching with their head torches dancing in the dark. We didn?t spend too much time here before walking along the tarmac road. There was no bog and no snow, just a little ice now and again. We continued along this road with Glencorse Reservoir on our right and a tiny crescent moon and a solitary star above us, it was lovely. We carried on right round the reservoir and past Glen Cottage until we came to the gate in the wall. We went through the gate and walked through the wooded area with only the light from our head torches and the now, very starry sky. Eventually we arrived back at the car park which was practically empty now.

The trip had taken us seven hours and we were all glad to get the boots off. Gail and I headed straight back down the road but the others went to the Flotterstone Inn for a well earned meal and needless to say, a wee drink.

On January 17, 1985, retired Major David Cunningham, 56, Sergeant Terence Hosker, 39, and Private John Thomson, 25, of the Royal Scots picked up a ?19,000 payroll from a Penicuik bank to take to the Glencorse Barracks in Penicuik, Midlothian where all were stationed.

According to the prosecution at his trial, Corporal Andrew Walker, 30, armed with sub-machine gun that he had signed out from an army armoury, forced the trio to drive away from the bank. He shot Serg. Hosker in the chest when he was tackled. Telling Private Thomson to drive along a quiet track to a reservoir, he shot Major Cunningham through the head. Thomson was then forced to unload the bodies of his colleagues before being shot himself in the head and abdomen. The money was never recovered and is thought to be buried in the hills. Walker left several clues in the deep snow and was arrested after a three-day manhunt.
Walker was found guilty of murder and jailed for life. He was also convicted of theft and for attempting to pervert the course of justice by trying to smuggle the letter out of prison. The judge, Lord Grieve, recommended that Walker should serve at least 30 years for the murders. Lord Grieve noted "This was a calculated crime. The accused, if he was to achieve his purpose, had to kill. I am quite satisfied that the crime was carefully planned, and I am also quite sure that the substance of the evidence given by Walker was a tissue of lies." He called the crimes "callous, brutal and calculated".

Walker's conviction was upheld on appeal, but the sentence was shortened to 27 years as Walker successfully argued in 2002 that he should not have been treated more harshly than other murderers.

Dorothy McGhee

Mark with Denise resting on tree
Tom and Irene
Tom and Mark
Mark legless again
The Gang
Dorothy sliding
Scald Law
James with others following

Photos: Irene Cahill

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