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A walk around Penicuik house and estate

What's there

A medium length walk through woods, by a river then up to a ruined country house. The house has been made safe so it is possible to look inside, and has a small cafe, but check online for opening times. Parts of this walk are disabled friendly.

How to get there

For Satnav, the nearest postcode is EH26 9LA. This is for the house itself, not the car park..
Take the Penicuik road from the Edinburgh bypass at the Straiton junction. Follow this road for about 9 miles down to Penicuik town. When you are close to the town centre, take the right hand turn signposted 'Carlisle A702' and follow this road (A766) out of town. About a mile outside Penicuik you will see the car park on your left, opposite the Lowrie's Den junction.

The Walk

The suggested walk starts off on good roads, but then involves some rough walking. You can see a map of the route here.
From the car park, go through the gate then follow the road way past the Knight's Law Tower, which you will see on a hill top on your left then down hill to a 'T' junction. The right turn takes you to the house, but turn left and follow the roadway along, until it starts to head left for the exit. Take the footpaths on the right. You have a choice here, you can follow a fairly broad trackway downhill, or take a narrow path along the top of the hill. Assuming you take the upper path, follow it along past a seat where you get an excellent view of Penicuik house over the valley, and along until you come to a small dell. Take the narrow path going downhill here, keeping to your right where you have a choice of paths. The path eventually runs alongside a very steep drop to a stream, and winds its way down the hill to the bottom. Some care is needed here as the path is a bit difficult in places.

At the bottom, turn right and follow the broad pathway upriver, and keep going until you reach the Roman bridge. Now take the narrow pathway up a steep hill. Near the top, the path splits right and left. Either path takes you to the house, but turn right and follow the path along to the Chinese gates. Go through the gates then along the greenway to the house. Walk round the house, stop for a coffee if the cafe is open, then follow the main driveway at the front of the house along, until you cross a stone bridge. Turn left here and you are on the roadway back to the car park.

Trotter's bridge

History

Old Penicuik House was built in 1761 by Sir James Clerk and was noted as a fine Scottish example of Palladian architecture.
In June 1899, a fire broke out in one of the attic bedrooms, which spread into the roof space. While the fire was slow to spread, it was difficult to put out because of the height of the building. The story goes that the local fire brigade arrived with a pump appliance, but in an attempt to raise the water up to roof level, they built up too much pressure in the pump and it exploded. The fire spread slowly down into the house and gutted the interior, but most of the house furnishings were saved. There is a photo on the house wall that shows the family belongings, including pictures, pianos and potted palms on the lawn outside the house.
The Clerk family did not have the money to rebuild the house, so they moved into the stable block next door, where they still live today.

The Penicuik estate has lots of old features, including the Knight's Law Tower, a dovecot which dates from about 1750. The 'Roman Bridge' down by the river was probably inspired by James Clerk's visits to Italy in the 16th century. There is also a hidden walled garden off on the right as you leave the car park, and a beautiful lake with boathouse to the right of the old house, but access to these may be limited.

Facilities

Cafe nearby
Poo bins available
Wheelchair accessible (part)
Historical buildings near the walk

Walks Near Here

Roslin Glen
Rosslyn Chapel
Thornton Farm
Thornton Farm