Sunday, January 28, 2007

Roslin Glen

The weather looked like it was going to be better over on the East side of the country so, after thumbing though a few walk books and maps, we decided to walk up Roslin Glen over in Midlothian. Roslin, or Rosslyn as it is sometimes spelled, is where the famous Rosslyn Chapel of The Da Vinci Code fame lies and it's also the site of a famous battle between the Scots and the English (we won) so we thought it might be an interesting walk.

Roslin CastleRoslin Castle

The walk is a five mile round trip that starts in Roslin Glen Country Park and from there we walked up to the old ruined Roslin Castle, which dates back to the 14th century. While it's mostly ruined, the upper floor at the road level appears to be in decent condition and occupied but the thought of having three dark, dank and empty floors below would certainly put us off living there.

Going though the castle arch below leads on to a path that follows the River North Esk up the glen but it has to be said that the path is in woeful condition. Mud, mud and more mud made it a very squelchy walk and in a few cases we had to detour off the path to get round completely impassible stretches. Of course, I ended up with a muddy backside when my feet started to slide on a slope and no amount of windmilling, shouting or scrabbling at branches stopped me going down into it - urgh!

The path pretty much follows the glen upstream and, while there are a few options for high or low paths, you'll end up at the Hewan Bank near the village of Polton. On the way, if you're observant, you'll see Wallace's Cave high up on the other side of the glen near to the picturesque Hawthornden Castle.

Hawthornden CastleHawthornden Castle

As I mentioned earlier, the glen was the site of a battle, the Battle of Rosslyn, which took place in 1303 when just 8,000 Scots successfully defended their homeland against a host of 30,000 English. This invasion force was sent by Edward I in response to the possible alliance between Scotland and France that might result from the marriage of Sir Henry St. Clair of Rosslyn and Lady Margaret Ramsay of Dalhousie. A more detailed story of the battle can be read on the Clan Sinclair site and it makes pretty interesting reading.

We had lunch on the sandy ridge top at Hewan Bank, which gives good views over Polton and down the glen but the ridge itself was suffering from some erosion and we couldn't get very far along it for a better view. From there, it's a fairly straightforward stroll back along the path to an old roadway that leads back down to Roslin village. On the way, you'll pass the Roslin Institute, best known for having been the home of Dolly the Sheep, the first mammal to be successfully cloned.

Once in the village, you can go up and visit the Rosslyn Chapel but we didn't see the point as it was covered in scaffolding and had a tin roof on as well - very un-scenic. All that's left then is a wander back through to Roslin castle and from there to the country park.


Ewan McIntosh said...

"The weather looked like it was going to be better over on the East side of the country"...

Nearly every time - almost without exception - that I come through to the West I'm taken aback at how much more overcast and damp things appear to be, more so than when I was brought up there, I feel.

I was watching Coast or something like that a while back that pointed out how much wetter the West was *likely* to get with global warming - I wonder if that's coming true early?

Are Glasgow and Edinburgh changing or was it always like that?

Allan Ogg said...

It's pretty much always been the case. The West gets the moisture laden air from the Atlantic and Gulf Stream and when it hits our hillier coast, it gets pushed up into the colder air where it precipitates and we get wet. The East on the other hand misses that rain but gets blasted by cold East winds that pick up their freezing temperatures while blowing across the icy Steppes of Russia.