A walk for all seasons through Roslin Glen

Seven miles outside Edinburgh, the Midlothian village of Roslin offers a range of attractions, both natural and cultural. The 15th century Rosslyn Chapel is the best known of these, of course, with its outstanding, ornate stone carvings and Hollywood connection. It’s well worth a visit or two; and yet the reason I return again and again to Roslin is due more to the fabulously dramatic walk through Roslin Glen.

Blending natural beauty with industrial archaeology, geology and historical interest, the walk starts from the Chapel. It passes by the ruins of Rosslyn Castle, built in 1304, before following the river North Esk downstream through a scenic wooded gorge and then returning to Roslin village on a mainly traffic-free path. The walk can be enjoyed at any time of the year. Woodpeckers and roe deer may be spotted through the trees, wildflowers abound during the warmer months and the native woodland is gloriously colourful in autumn. But even in the depths of winter there is plenty to enjoy, and a brisk walk through the glen is a pleasant way to pass a winter’s afternoon.

It’s hard to believe that this tranquil glen was once the site of a bloody battle and, in later centuries, a busy hub of industry. The Battle of Roslin in 1303 involved William Wallace and ended in a Scottish victory over the English. In more recent centuries, a carpet factory and gunpowder mill were based in the glen, taking advantage of the fast-flowing waters of the North Esk.

If you haven’t been for a walk in Roslin for a while, why not remind yourself of what you’ve been missing! You can get there from Edinburgh by Lothian bus 15 from Princes Street, which then goes on to Penicuik. Note that some of the paths are steep and may be slippery and muddy so proper footwear is needed.Hawthornden

Route description – 5km, 3 miles

From the bus stop in the centre of the village, outside the Original Rosslyn Hotel, follow signs to the Chapel. Before you get there, turn right after the car park along a path signed for Rosslyn Castle. At the castle the path runs down steps to the right, but it is worth a short detour across the bridge to enjoy views along the glen. At the bottom of the steps bear left and pass under the bridge. There are a number of paths through the woods, running close to the river or higher up the side of the gorge. Enjoy finding your way downstream through the trees, looking out for Wallace’s Cave and Hawthornden Castle, now a writers’ retreat, across the river. When the gorge opens out with broad meadows on the left, and the river swings to the right at Hewan Wood, go through the gate and turn left to follow the stepped path as it zigzags up the hill. This is Hewan Bank, a Site of Special Scientific Interest for the rich glacial deposits from the last Ice Age, and expansive views across the surrounding countryside open up. Continue to a T-junction where a path is signed left to Roslin and take this route all the way back to the village.

There’s more information about organised local walks here


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