Crichton Castle is near Pathhead, about 12 miles South of Edinburgh
Initially an easy walk to the Castle, it then becomes a rough walk up and down steep banks, through woods and along a stream bank.
How to get there
For Satnav, the nearest postcode is EH37 5XA
Near the eastern end of the Edinburgh bypass, turn south on the A68 and follow that road for about 5 miles until you come to Pathhead village. At the entrance to the village you cross a high bridge, and just over the bridge you will see a right hand turn with two roads leading off. Take the upper road that goes past houses, not the one that doubles back.
Now follow this road out of the village for a couple of miles until you come to a 'T' junction, then turn right, signposted for Crichton Castle (pronounced cry t'n). Follow this road for about another mile, keeping left at the 'Y' junction, past Crichton Kirk to the car park.
This is a 'there and back again' walk. The first part of this walk is easy and should be disabled friendly, right up to the castle. Beyond the castle it involves climbing steep hills on narrow paths, which can be muddy in the winter. You can see a map of the route here.
From the car park, go through the gate, then follow the trackway to the Castle. The trackway passes East of the castle and ends in front of the the ruined stable block. Pass the stable block on the West side, then follow the narrow path that leads down a steep hill. This path can be muddy and slippery, especially in winter, so take care.
Once you are down the hill, the path goes through alder woods to the river Tyne, here no more that a narrow stream that you could almost step over. Follow the path, cross the bridge over the river, through the alder woods on the other side, and then to a wide meadow with a steep hill on the far side. The views back to the castle are quite spectactular.
Cross the meadow and climb up the hill, then at the top follow the path through the woods, along what once may have been a railway. You can see the odd relic peeking through the grass. This path ends in a small wood, then takes an indeterminate route over a field to a bridge over the Borders Railway. At this point the path is crossing fields with farm animals in them so while I have made it as far as the railway bridge, I've never tried to go further. However it seems the path continues through Borthwick village, then right down the Gore Glen to Gorebridge.
The Crichton family were most likely of ancient British descent, and John de Crichton built a tower house at Crichton in the late 14th century. A few years later, his son, Sir William Crichton was the Chancellor of Scotland, an important figure who helped ruled Scotland while James II was a child. While the Crichton family were powerful in Scotland, the Black Douglas family were their great rivals and were getting influential with the king. So William Crichton invited William Douglas, the sixth Earl of Douglas and his brother to Crichton Castle in 1440 and then off to dinner with the king at Edinburgh Castle. The brothers were served two black boar heads and then stabbed to death, so the meal became known as the 'Black Dinner'.
Another William of Crichton plotted against James III and was besieged at Crichton Castle. As a result, the Crichtons were disinherited and control of the castle eventually passed to the Hepburn family.
You can visit the castle, but it is normally closed in the winter.
Apparently, if you walk up to the castle on the date of Sir William Crichton's death (and no-one seems to know when exactly this was), you can see the ghost of a horseman riding out from the stables up to the castle, and entering the castle by the original gate, which is now blocked up by a stone wall.