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Stepping out on our way

Uphill climb

Bridge crossing

Bob Jarmson leads us down the hill 
Fort Douglas

Lunch at the Laundry house

Now is this the way?

No - Road Closed. Try this

Don't jump cries Dorothy.
Not worth it!.

Carol and the white trainers

Sponsored Walk  - Saturday 10 June 2017

Report and Photos - Jim Paterson.

Our group of walkers outside St. Mungo's

The walkers gathered at St. Mungo's on the morning of Saturday 10th June, just as a downpour commenced. Did we really want to do this? echoed around the vestibule as we huddled for shelter, dripping on the floor! By time the preliminaries were covered the rain had stopped. Someone looking down kindly on us poor souls? As you see the photo in front of the church as we prepared to depart shows how quickly the weather changes in Scotland, supporting the old adage, 'if you don't like the weather in Scotland, wait 5 minutes!

This years walk was around Dalkeith Country Park, last visited on a walk back in 2014. We met up with friends from Roslin, that we see often on these walks. The park has changed a lot in the past four years, with more facilities for families with young children, walkers and cyclists.

Kitted up we set off, still keeping a close grip on our waterproofs, just in case. We headed across the cycle practice area back on to the
path heading for the Kings Gate, which offered great views of Dalkeith Palace. Completed in 1711, and designed for the Earl of Buccleuch by Scottish architect James Smith, who used  William of Orange's Palace of Het Loo in the Netherlands as a model. It is built on the site of an earlier Dalkeith Castle dating back to the 12th century. Smith incorporated a portion of the tower house of the old castle into the western side of the new structure, of which the outline of the old tower walls is still visible in the western facade of the palace today.

We crossed Montagu Bridge. This Robert Adam designed bridge built in 1792 crosses the North Esk River connecting Dalkeith Palace with the main Edinburgh road, (Kings Gate) and shows how important the example of ancient Rome remained in eighteenth-century Scotland. Its monumental scale recalls the magnificence of Roman bridges and aqueducts, while its elaborate surface decoration derives from the great temples and bathhouses built by the emperors for the Roman people. Although built in simpler form than Adam originally intended, it remains an astonishing testimony to the architect’s ability to adapt ancient forms to the needs of eighteenth-century clients.

We swung off the road into Lugton Haugh, through thick tree cover, some still dripping the raindrops they had captured earlier. This led to Westgate Park, where we took care on the sometimes slippy paths, especially those that were
narrow and muddy. Carol Lough began to wish she had not come in white trainers! We arrived nearer the Kings Gate to cross the road and walk into The Belwoods woodland. By now the weather was drying well and the trees stopped showering us.

Following the route, uphill and down dale, following the North Esk River we reached the 'Meeting of the Waters' where the north and South Esk rivers join to form the River Esk heading to the sea. We were now in the 'Old Wood' . These woodlands are hundreds of years old and now a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) with some trees over 900 years of age, allegedly planted by monks from nearby Newbattle perhaps? Some are gnarled and broken but still hanging on, the trees that is, not the monks!. The park management realised a few years ago that because of the livestock that lives in the oak wood,  very few seedlings were growing and the wood would one day die out. So they've planted seedlings in protected positions, putting fences round them to protect them from the cattle and rabbits.

From the Old Wood we passed through Steel Park to emerge at the picnic area in front of the Georgian Laundry room.  The rest was well received and we saw the fabulous Orangerie, designed by William Burn  in 1832, and recently refurbished. It was intended to grow exotic fruits for the Duke at Dalkeith Palace, heated by an under-floor boiler, with the chimney reaching up through its centre.

More modern for the younger at heart is Fort Douglas, what we would call a tree house. This one is far more ambitious and a great hit with the kids.

Refreshed we headed off on our second stage, crossing the 1740 William Adam designed Laundry Bridge over the Esk.  The extended route took us on asphalt roads this time past Sandyriggs Wood to cross the bridge over the A68, passing Cecil's Field, home to a few horses from the nearby Equestrian Centre. Crossing the River Esk at Smeaton Bridge we walked back along the riverside the 'Meeting of the Waters' to find those who had taken a shorter route.

Reunited we made our final stage of the day to Restoration Yard, based in the converted Stables and Coach-house were designed in 1740 by William Adam with additions in 1840 by William Burn, who added the famous clock tower and belfry.

Our final farewells to our friends from Roslin complete we all headed home to Penicuik. An excited in somewhat tired team of walkers, we had crossed some magnificent countryside, in many cases walking  through history.  So you see, our sponsored walks not only exercise your body, but provide your mind with amazing historical facts in the countryside right on our doorstep. Our thanks to Ian and Moira Dickson who planned this walk for us. Join us next year when Ian and Moira will once again take us to another walk that will open your eyes.

The sponsored walk raised £1074, the highest ever from these walks, and  helps to fund the upkeep of our church buildings.

  Published 13 June 2017
Updated 27 June 2017
Penicuik: St. Mungo's Parish Church (Church of Scotland). Scottish Charity No SC005838