Penicuik House

Time – 60 minutes
Distance – 4 km/2.5 miles

A little outside our patch, but most of us drive past the start and finish of this walk so often, an hour’s detour is more than worth it to explore this secret world. If you’ve ever wondered what that car park is for just outside of Penicuik on the A766, now is your chance to find out [1]. Note – good paths but they can be very muddy.

Route: Start/finish – Car park on A766 1 km west of Penicuik, grid reference 219.599

Leave the car park through the gate and along the tarmac track. This is the Tympany entrance to the Penicuik House estate. The track descends and then turns right and over the Knight’s Law bridge and then along the driveway up to Penicuik House.

More can be discovered about the house at their website: the Penicuik House project

Briefly, though, this is the ancestral home of the Clerk family, who have lived here since 1654. Building started on the house in 1761, which was gutted by fire in 1899. The family converted the magnificent stable block to the right of the house (pictured), with its spire and dovecot, into their new home. The Penicuik House project is aiming to make the ruin safe and bring the grounds, which are one of the earliest examples of landscaped gardens, back to life.

From the car park [1], walk to the left of the House and along the Lime Avenue, with the Ramsay Monument visible across the valley in the distance. The end of the Avenue marks the site of Chinese Gates. Turn right along the grassy path and right again to head back towards the rear of the House, [2] with fabulous views of the Pentlands to your left.

At the far end of the House, you reach and cross the Chinese Bridge, with the ‘Water Willie’ statue to the right. Once over the bridge, descend the wooden steps to the left and onto a track that heads downhill and through a gate. Keep heading downhill and bearing left to pass alongside and then round the far end [3] of the ornamental Lower Pond (pictured below). You will shortly be walking on a track (which can be muddy) alongside the North Esk river to your right, following it downstream.

Continue along this track through woodland and past a ‘Roman Bridge’. One kilometre from the Pond, the track crosses a small burn and then splits in two. Take the track to the left [4]that heads uphill and out of the river valley. At the top, you reach a road. Cross this and join the track that heads into the woods. [5] Walk along the edge of the wood with a field to your right at the far end of which the car park is visible.

At the far end of wood, up to your left and hidden in the trees is the Knight’s Law Tower, another of the many follies arranged in the estate. On reaching the tarmac track once again, turn right to go back to the car park

Pencuik House