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Carnethy 5 Hill Race

Carnethy 5 Hill RaceThe "Tiso" Carnethy 5 is one of best known hill races in Scotland and commemorates the Battle of Roslin in 1303. The day the Scots beat the English 3 times on the same day!

The rivalry lives on today, with the team prize of a two-handed claymore, still keenly contested between Scottish clubs and clubs from south of the border!

Race organiser, Jamie Thin of the Carnethy Hillrunning Club describes the race…

"The idea for the race came from Jimmy Jardine of Penicuik , who wanted to commemorate the battle of Roslin , which was fought at the foot of the Pentland Hills in February 1303.

The race starts at Silverburn not far from the scene of the battle. In fact a local field is know as "shinbane" field - as the local farmer keeps ploughing up bones from the battle!!

Or as the "Ballad of the Battle of Roslin" puts it -

    An Farmers tae this verra day,
    When they're at the ploo-in',
    Still find shinbanes in the clay,
    At a place they ca' "The Hewin."

Jimmy not only founded the race, but has run every race since the first one in 1971 . Thirty-one races so far and counting! "

"Each year over 500 runners compete in the race - with runners from all over Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and further afield, and there is now a special prize for every one who has completed 21 races."

"But it is not all about running!! Many romances have started from chance meetings at the race or at the famous foot-stomping post-race ceilidh (1 hour of running and 4 hours of dancing!). One local runner, Lionel Wilson, even proposed to his girlfriend during the race on the top of the last hill - Carnethy - she said "Yes" of course!!"

Famous Past Race Winners have included…

Carnethy 5Colin Donnelly and Jack Maitland, who both won the Carnethy 5 as juniors, and then both went on to become British Fell running champions. Colin is currently World Mountain running Champion in the Veteran Class (over the age of 40)

While for the women, Angela Mudge is a past winner of the Womens race and current record holder. Angela has gone on to greater things too, winning the European Grand Prix and the World Mountain Running Championship in Norway in 2000.

So the Pentland hills have proved good training for bigger international races!

Now that alongside the main senior race, there is a shorter junior race up Scald Law for U18, U16 and U14 boys and girls - the organisers are hoping to encourage the champions of tomorrow.

Scotland is one of the leading nations in the sport of the Mountain running and the Scottish team has featured in the medals in several recent championships. There are not many other sports where Scotland can truly claim to be a world class player.

For more information contact :

Jamie Thin, Carnethy 5 race organiser, (mobile 07876 707 551 / home 0131-664-9734) or go to (photos available on request)

Senior race is 6miles with 2,500ft of climb (record stands at 47mins 50 secs)
Junior race is 3 miles with 900ft of climb.

(entries for the senior race close on 7th February 2002 - cost 7 incl. Hot meal - Junior race to top of Scald Law and back entry on the day 2)

Don Morrison of Graham Tiso says:

'Tiso are pleased to continue their association with the Carnethy 5 Hill Race.  They see it as one of the premier races on the hill race calendar.

Tiso has had a commitment to all things sporting in the hills and mountains since 1962.  Since the formation of the Scottish Hill Running Championships, Tiso have been involved not only with sponsorship of various events and competitions but also with many of their staff taking part as athletes and organisers.'

A Short History of the Battle of Roslin

The Battle of Roslin was set against the fight for Independence at the time of Wallace and Bruce.

In 1296, Edward of England had invaded Scotland and butchered 10,000 Scots in Berwick, hanging them from their own door-frames.

The Scots fought back in 1297, with William Wallace winning against the odds at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, but then in 1298 the Scots lost at Falkirk, when divisions opened up amongst the Scots themselves.

John Ritchie of Clan Sinclair takes up the story... (see the Clan Sinclair website for the full details: a good source of historical references

"When late in the year 1302, Sir John Seagrave received the information that Sir Henry St. Clair was about to marry Lady Margaret Ramsay, he became incensed and sent a letter from his base in Carlisle to Edward asking for his permission to invade Scotland, this was expediently granted, and in the middle of February 1303, an English force of 30,000 men crossed the border into Scotland under the cover of darkness, avoiding the warning beacons being lit on the border hills, they succeeded in reaching Melrose. Where Seagrave split the force into three equal parts, in order to attack three different targets."

"Sir Robert Neville was to attack Borthwick Castle, Sir Ralph Confrey's force was designated Dalhousie castle, while the remaining force under Sir John Seagrave, and assisted by the English paymaster Ralph de Manton marched on Roslin."

"The English invading forces had managed to get fairly close to their objectives, before news reached Prior Abernethy of Mount Lothian who dispatched riders to alert important leaders such as Sir William Wallace near Paisley, Sir John Comyn near Glasgow, Sir Symon Fraser of Neidpath, Somerfield of Carnwath, Simon of the Lee, The Flemming of Cumbernauld and the Knights of the Hospital at Torphicen urging them to muster at Biggar with all speed. Prior Abernethy, who was the Cistercian prior of Mount Lothian, the western outpost or gate of Balentradoch, the Templar headquarters in Scotland. Abernethy may have been a Templar knight before becoming a Cistercian Prior."

"By the afternoon of the 23rd of February 1303 some 8,000 Scots had rallied to the call of arms."

"Overall command of the Scottish forces was offered to Sir William Wallace, but was declined by him because of his earlier defeat at the battle of Falkirk in 1298 when the battle was lost due to the abandonment by many Scottish nobles and their forces believing that Wallace had designs on the vacant Scottish throne."

The English General was unprepared for a fight. His army was separated into three groups of 10,000 each, some miles apart. At Dryden they suddenly found themselves confronted by 8,500 Scots. Colmyn, Saintclair and Fraser, and friends of Wallace soon carried the day, and rushed on to Rosewell to meet the 2nd army. The weary Scots were again triumphant, but tired, and when yet another 10,000 men approached they were ready to flee. But Sir Simon was a crafty gent, he had been warned about the 3rd army, and had sent a few of his men to carry two tree trunks up a neighbouring hill. (Carnethy)

Then Sir Simon shouted to his men.......... (well, part of the old ballad says it better) …..

"Look ower, look ower, on yonder hill,"
Quo' Sir Simon lood and clear,
They blich't and saw the lift gao ill,
Then saw a cross appear.
"Tis gude St. Andrew" cried ae man,
Then doon they gaed to pray,
"Gae to," they heard the gude Sir Simon,
"Gae to," we'll win the day."

The inspired Scots rushed into battle!

A Short History of Hill running…

The first recorded hill race dates back to the time of Malcolm Carnmore (1057-1093)

Hill-runners are often viewed with suspicion by mountaineers. The mountains are no place for a race, you may say.

But if you have ever run down a steep hill-side in your shorts and light-weight fell shoes, it is very hard to go back to your big boots and heavy gear.

The first recorded mountain ascent is often thought to date from 1590, when 'Mad' Colin Campbell of Glenlyon climbed Stuc 'an Lochain.

But long before that, running across the hills was the only way to spread an urgent message.

Michael Brander (in "Essential Guide to Highland Games") has traced the history,

"In the wild and mountainous highlands, where no roads existed, and peat bogs, boulders and scree were likely to slow down or cripple even the most sure-footed horse, by far the quickest means of communication was a man running across country.

The "Crann-tara" or fiery cross was the age-old method of raising the clansmen in time of need. It was made of two pieces of wood fastened together in the shape of a cross, traditionally with one end alight and the other end soaked in blood.

Runners were despatched to all points of the compass and as they ran they shouted the war cry of the clan and the place and time to assemble".

The clan chieftains began to arrange races amongst the clansmen to find the fastest man to carry the Crann-tara. The story of the first Braemar gathering, is also the story of the first recorded hill-race in Scotland…

Malcolm Canmore (1057-1093) held the first gathering at Braemar.

The race was from Braemar to the top of Craig Choinich and back. Honour was at stake, but also a prize of a purse of gold and a fine sword.

"All the challengers set off led by the favourites , the two elder Macgregor brothers, but at the last moment the third and youngest Macgregor brother joined the back of the field. The youngest brother caught his elder brothers at the top of the hill and asked "Will ye share the prize?". "Each man for himself!" came back the reply. As they raced back down the hill he edged into second place and then dashed past his eldest brother. But as he passed, his eldest brother despairingly grabbed him by his kilt. But slipping out of his kilt, the younger brother still managed to win , if lacking his kilt!"

Perhaps that is why kilts are no longer worn in today's hill races!!

The Scottish hills are particularly suited for hill-running, the going is often soft under-foot and light-weight shoes cut down on the amount of peat bog you have to carry round with you.

Ballad of the "Battle of Roslin"

1.    Grey wis the dawnin' ower Rosewell,
    When the Englishmen were roosin,
    Gay wis Sir Simon Fraser's yell,
    "Castail Dhuni" echoed eight thoosan',

2.    Ten thoosan' English, eight thoosan' Scot,
    The prior's prayers were spoken,
    Ane fiery charge such terror wrought,
    That the English lines were broken.

3.    But ballad writers stay your pen.......
    This was no sporting battle,
    Sir Simon chased after the fleeing men,
    And cut them down like cattle.

4.    The Fraser, the Colmun and St. Clair,
    Wer'na men tae slaughter,
    But they faced twenty thoosan' English mair,
    So they derna gie them quarter.

    An Farmers tae this verra day,
    When they're at the ploo-in',
    Still find shinbanes in the clay,
    At a place they ca' "The Hewin."

5.    Ten thoosan' cam' fae Rosewell Dyke,
    Wi' General Randolf leadin',
    Again the spears o'ercame the pike,
    But mony gude Scots lay bleedin'.

6.    Sudden an army cam' up on the fight,
    And the Scots were like to flee,
    Prior Abernethy begged them tae fight,
    But no man heard his plea.

7.    "Look ower, look ower, on yonder hill,"
    Quo' Sir Simon lood and clear,
    They blick't and saw the lift gae ill,
    Then saw a cross appear.

8.    "'Tis gude St. Andrew," cried ae man,
    And doon they gaed tae pray,
    "Gae to," they heard the gude Sir Simon,
    "Gae to, we'll win the day."


    An Farmers tae this verra day,
    When they're at the ploo-in',
    Still find shinbanes in the clay,
    At a place they ca' "The Hewin."

9.    They ca'd the cross hill "Abernethy,"
    Where they layed the Prior's banes,
    But soon they renamed it "Carnethy,"
    Fae a' the pilgrim's stanes.

10.    We mind the twa Frasers, o' Colmyn tae,
    And o' the true St. Clair,
    First tae the fecht, the Graham gay,
    Dark Douglas tae wis there.

11.    But wha made the cross fae the blasted tree,
    That gied the Scots such solace?
    Ma freens, ye surely needna ask me,
    It was Sir William Wallace


    An Farmers tae this verra day,
    When they're at the ploo-in',
    Still find shinbanes in the clay,
    At a place they ca' "The Hewin."

If you are interested in hill running in Scotland then visit

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