The forecast wasn’t good, but as
is often the way it could have been worse. The
gale force headwinds disappeared in the shelter
of the river valley, and the driving rain was
a mere and occasional inconvenience. The sun
even made an appearance at one point.
aperitif of Inveresk the first main challenge
was the wall rather dispiritingly painted "Private
Estate Trespassers will be Prosecuted" in
angry wobbly letters.
Welcome to the Dalkeith
With a great deal of shoving we got Cody up onto the
wall. After taking a bit of a stroll along the top
he decided to obey the injunction and rejoined us.
Cries of Noooo! and we repeated the process. Some of
us needed a shove too, as the wall seems to have grown.
The woods were wonderful with the rich colours of fallen
leaves, dead bracken, holly, lichen, moss and undergrowth.
The exit was easier as the
recently walled up gate has mysteriously
sprouted a hole (I hope the estate doesn’t
routinely google itself, though I suppose
they’ll notice soon enough).
A short section
of railway walkway follows which will become
part of the new Borders railway; so future
runs may have to find another way through.
More appeals to privacy as
we cut through between Melville Castle
Hotel, the Nurseries and the golf range
to the folly, so we tiptoed through the
scrub, just leaf muffled squelching
to mark our progress. Not many golfers
on the rain lashed fairways; one or two
took the traditional route down the field
with a perilous climb over the wall and
down the road sign but the rest took a
Then the beginnings of the
theme for the rest of the day – mud. Lashings
of it. Great glorious glutinous lagoons
of it. The river was rising too, but still
below the level of the path. We stopped
for a nibble in Polton; Nick found out
why his tea was cold. A thumping muddy
slip earlier and his thermos was full of
broken glass. Didn’t stop him drinking
it though, he’s that hard.
The route over Hewan Bank
is a delight, high above the woods on a
narrow arête, lined with beech trees
and the gateway to Roslin Glen. The path
used to go down into The Maiden Castle,
but the river is cutting through nothing
more than a huge sand dune at this point
and erosion has forced a re-routing.
cottage which stood here was lost in the Polton
landslide of December 1979 which
could have made us a little more nervous
about the fresh landslip and mudslide
in the gorge opposite Hawthornden Castle,
making the route quite ‘technical’ according
to Bob Johnson who was sweeping the field
on his mountain bike. Safely through
we carried onwards to Roslin Castle,
the occasional pallet laid over the mud;
stepping stones in the slippery morass.
Shoving Cody part 2 took place at the
traditional bridge refusal, then, passing
the historic mill workings and roaring
weirs of Roslin Glen Country Park we
came to the railway
walkway and the final trudge to Penicuik
and ooh! bliss, bacon rolls.
Resuming, with lots of fresh
faces, we were into territory that is unknown
to a lot of people.
Penicuik House estate
is worth another visit to see the ruined
mansion and explore the woods and paths.
See a photo map on the Carnethy local routes
Actually the day’s theme should include
landslides – there’s an extensive one near
where we entered the estate that occurred
in 2007 (you can download a report here 1mb)
Leaving the estate via a rather wobbly
bridge the route winds along the valley
at the edge of farmland and onto the fringes
of Auchencorth Moss, feeling increasingly
exposed and remote (with a 3rd shoving
of Cody at the pipe bridge). A brief pause
at the pillar http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/750088 and
then a final descent into the delightful
valley of Habbie’s Howe before Carlops,
a last bit of mud for old times sake in
the fields and finally the lovely pub,
good beer and food, and a struggle out
of soaking footwear. Digby
great day. Thanks to Wilie for the organisation.
Photoalbum on Picasa here,
and also on the photomap.