Dalhousie Castle lies between Bonnyrigg and Gorebridge, just South of Edinburgh
A walk through woods and along river and stream banks. Rough in places and not disabled friedly. There is a Castle Hotel on route.
How to get there
For Satnav, the nearest postcode is EH19 3JE
Find the Sherriffhall roundabout on the Edinburgh bypass, then turn south, away from Edinburgh on the A7. After about three miles you will come to a roundabout at the bottom of a hill, where the borders railway crosses the road on a concrete bridge, built right over the roundabout. Turn right here onto the B6392, signposted Dalhousie Castle Hotel, then turn left at the next roundabout onto the B704, signposted Gorebridge. Follow this road for a couple of miles, over the bridge with traffic lights, and up the hill. At the top of the hill the road bears left. Turn right here onto the short unmarked side road and park by the trees.
This walk is difficult in places as it involves climbing short steep hills and some muddy paths. You can see a map of the route here.
You will see a metal 5-bar gate by the side road leading into the woods (not the metal gate over the roadway). Climb over the gate by the rather 'shoogly' style and head on down the path to the river. The pathway was once the driveway from the castle to a small chapel, but now it's rather muddy and overgrown in places. Near the bottom of the path there is a low wall on your right with a steep drop to the river so take care. Turn right at the bottom of the path, cross the bridge over the South Esk, then turn left almost immediately down a steep, grassy bank to a gateway by the river. Follow the path way round the field by the river, past the ruined laundry tower until you reach the Castle Dean burn, which runs in a very deep and picturesque cutting down to the river.
Once you cross over the small bridge at the burn the pathway goes up a steep cutting, then up some steps to the top of the river bank. At the top of the bank, keep to your left and descend the bank again back down to the river. Now follow the path up the river. It continues for maybe a mile up river, through woods then through a field to another wood at which point the path stops and you have to retrace your steps.
About half way up this path there is a tangle of dead trees in the river and just past here, the river is very shallow and easily fordable (when not in flood of course). It is possible to cross the river here, and climb the bank on the far side, although this is a bit of a struggle as there is no clear path. At the top of the bank you will find a pathway that will take you back to you car.
However, a better and easier way is to re-trace your steps back to the top of the river bank, and here, instead of going back down the steps, head up to the very top and you will see a pathway that runs inside the fence by a field. This pathway sometimes goes by the field and sometimes goes into Castle Dean wood. After maybe 500 yards you will see the smaller path branching off to the right. Take this path and it goes down a short way to an old stone bridge over the burn. At the top of the path, turn right again and head back down the burn, on the other side.
Now, keep following this main path, ignoring any more right hand turns, until you come to the end of the wood. Turn right here and it will bring you out by the castle. Dalhousie Castle is a hotel and wedding venue, but you can walk past it on the right side, down past the outside terrace and down a flagstone path right by the castle. You could, if you wish, stop off at the terrace and have an afternoon tea in very beautiful surroundings.
Once past the castle, just walk back to the bridge then follow the path back up to your car
The Scots king David 1st was by marriage a leading landowner in England and it is probable that a certain Simundus de Ramesia followed King David 1st to Scotland from the village of Ramsay in Huntingdonshire, founded the Ramsay family line and was the first to have land at Dalhousie (then known as Dalwolsey). The castle was originally built in the 13th century but only the thick foundation walls and vaults remain of the original building. Edward I of England spent a night in Dalhousie Castle before going on to Falkirk where he defeated William 'Braveheart' Wallace. Later on in the independence wars, Dalhousie proved to be the last castle in Scotland to be besieged by an English king in person.
The main parts of the majestic residence you see today were built around 1450, using red stone quarried from just across the South Esk River.
Jumping forward from the Scots wars of independence to the civil war, the Ramsays initially supported the Royalists but switched sides later, so that Oliver Cromwell used the Castle as a base for a while during his campaigns in Scotland. In more peaceful times, the Castle was altered in the 1770s then remodelled again in the 1820s as a baronial home. About this time the Castle was surrounded by a beautiful parkland, described as 'extensive and romantic pleasure grounds', but much of this was destroyed by mining operations. The walk as decribed follows some of the parkland paths.
The ruined circular building by the river was the laundry for the castle. Just past where you park your car, through the other gate and on the left is the ruined Old Cockpen Kirk. It was originally built in the 13th century and altered again in the 17th century. It is now ruined and roofless, but some of the gravestones are interesting, especially the Obelisk which was a memorial to the Marquess of Dalhousie.