Despite a dodgy weather forecast, fourteen hardy souls heeded President Christine’s call and congregated at 10 a.m. in the car park at the Lowrie’s Den entrance to the Penicuik Estate for the second annual “Pond Walk” on Saturday 30th December. In fact, although chilly, the weather was bright and sunny, and after a fulsome exchange of season’s greetings the club historian and raconteur, James A Cowper, led the way into the beautiful snow-covered estate, the historic home of Penicuik Curling Club.
After a short skip and jump we reached the recently revealed Knight’s Law Tower, set on a small hillock close to the car park. Despite a serious discussion on the reasons for this substantial monolith, we failed to reach a conclusion. For those interested, the Penicuik House Preservation Trust website provides the following information:
GRADE B LISTED – a key ‘eye-catcher’ in the Designed Landscape. Designed by Sir John Clerk and built between 1748 and 1750, the tower was conceived both as a belvedere, (a structure designed to provide a beautiful view), as well as a working dovecot – a ﬁne example of beauty meeting utility. Rising to a height of some 16m, the circular stone tower comprises inner and outer drums, spanned by a ﬂat roof of overlapping stone. The inner drum houses a stair giving access to wide circular passageways with the upper chamber providing 1,356 brick nesting holes for pigeons. The view from the top of the tower over the Designed Landscape and rural Midlothian is magniﬁcent and it is our ambition to return it to visitors by 2018.
So there! We were all correct!
Our walk continued into the Estate at a leisurely pace and, with Sir Robert Clerk’s kind permission, we made our annual pilgrimage to the High Pond, complete with an inviting, although disappointingly thin, cover of ice. There, we reﬂected on the occasion of the ﬁrst ever Grand Match in the universe held on 15th January 1847.
Following Jim’s new map, (c.1880), we deviated from our normal route and struck out to view the famous Fairy Circle. This may have been famous in the 1880’s but has considerably less appeal now; however, Margaret C. enthralled us with her personal, somewhat worrying, tale of the time she and her two companions were enticed into the nearby mansion by a strange old man!
Jim’s carefully planned route would have had us carrying on across the Cornton Burn to the Hurley Pond, but we were thwarted in this by a group with guns and had to be content with a short stroll around the iceclad Low Pond to Penicuik Curling Club’s H.Q. and spiritual home, the Curling House. There, whilst we imbibed hot mulled wine and “Rusty Nails”, and sated our appetites on a splendid variety of warm mince pies, Hon. Pres. Jim read Charlie Wilson’s reﬂections from the club minutes of 1916; “…members used to complain of the long road to the pond but oh, I remember the day when I did not think it long, when with a palpitating heart I would wend up by the old Roman Bridge and the saw mill, with the smell of new cut logs in one’s nostrils, and listening to the rumble of the stones. But when the scene burst upon one’s view, the pond like a mirror sheen, and the roar of a curling stane war, it was glorious, it was invigorating, it was elevating.” Suitably invigorated and elevated by Jim’s oration, the party then headed along the Esk, past the site of the saw mill and the restored Roman Bridge, and thence upwards to the stunning Ladies Walk and home.
Jim’s “Reﬂections on Hurley Cove” will wait for another year.
Photographs on Social Page