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February 2010
The blog page, a place where I can record and then archive my monthly updates and what's new in our hunt for castles UK.

Of this months Scottish castles and a house, are from Midlothian.

January was castle hunting snow time, so after checking the weather all week we were off. Didn't know what the roads would be like, so we set off at 9am in icy rain but things got better the more north we traveled. M1 then A1, with our first stop at Scotch Corner the road were fine with snow all around and then we hit our first set back, the sandwich van on the slip road was closed. Luckily the castle spotter had bought a sausage roll at the services, so we tucked into that and kept a lookout for another van. After passing Alnwick we got a couple of sandwiches and a weather report for further north which sounded ok. We crossed the border and the snow had gone, we could see it inland but next to the sea, all gone, it gave us a lift. The A1 turned west heading for Edinburgh and the snow was back but we were making good time and would get to Penicuik before 3pm. It had been a long day but maybe there was time to see a castle before it got dark, Rosslyn Castle was on the way so that would be the one, we turned off and headed for Roslin village but would the minor road be passable, we would soon be finding out. Turning on the Chapel Loan, we headed for Roslin Chapel car park only to see a car being dug out, so that was a no no. Parked up in the snow by the pub we walked down to the chapel and looked for a sign to the castle but there was none to be seen, so we asked at the chapel, go down the lane outside and turn left in between the two cemeteries. It was nice to be in the snow and out of the car, on the tops of the walls to could see that a good bit of snow had fallen, giving the place a Christmas card look. First thing you see is the walled approach which curves to meet the bridge over the defensive ditch and well it stops you in your tracks. You stand to drink it all in, the castle it's floating, no its just perched, why built a castle on that tiny bit of rock? Well if you only see one castle, Rosslyn is the one, got my pictures but the lights not good, back up to the car and off to find the hotel, warm bath, couple of pints and a bite to eat, we made it!
Day 2, time to get them snow pictures, so it was off to find Uttershill Castle which was nearby off the A701 but I didn't know which side. When we got to where it should be, the spotter soon located it, ruins to the left up on the hill she said, so we turned round and started up the hill on a nice clear road. Parked up and walked down to the castle, with thick snow all around it was a beautiful morning and we hoped we would be the first to go there since the snow but as always there was a path through the deep snow but we both enjoyed the castle. Then it was off to the mighty castles of Craigmillar and Edinburgh, with a bit of shopping thrown in, before heading back to Penicuik and the ruin of Old Woodhouselee (what a great name) Castle before it got dark.
Day 3, was icy Wednesday back home but we were off East Fife and the snow and ice had gone, which sadly put an end to castle hunting snow time.
Day 4, was St Andrews day with its castle, town and priory gates but the mid 16th century Mine and Countermine at the castle just blew me away.

Click on the pictures, for more information.

Rosslyn Castle Wallpaper
Rosslyn Castle, OS 66/NT 275-628 Midlothian Scotland, is this months wallpaper.
The picture was taken in January 2010 and the view of the snow covered approach to the caste, with the remains of the gatehouse, north range on the left and the curtain wall, keep on the right. Behind is the east range, which can be let has holiday accommodation from The Landmark Trust and it must be a super place to stop, made better by 12 inches of snow.
Under my logo, I've added the name of the castle site, so non castle hunters know which mound of muck or stone or proper castle it is.
Auchendinny House
Auchendinny House, OS 66/NT 252-613 Midlothian Scotland.
Was originally a possible 16th or 17th century stone defensible house. A symmetrical small rectangular mansion, linked by curved screen walls to two outlying flanking pavilions, now stands on the site. Designed and completed in the early 18th century, by Sir William Bruce, two earlier vaulted chambers are incorporated in the western part of the basement.
The site is a private residence and is only visible from the road. The house was looking good in the snow but there's no old stone to see here, so a view from the road is more had good enough.
Old Woodhouselee Castle
Old Woodhouselee Castle, OS 66/NT 257-616 Midlothian Scotland.
Is possibly an early 16th century stone L-plan tower house, founded by Oliver Sinclair. Standing on a high crag, overlooking a loop of the River North Esk, the castle could also be late 16th or early 17th century. Cut into the edge of the rock, are the rectangular remains of three barrel vaulted undercrofts, lit by small windows, with one section of vault still in place.
The site is visible from the dismantled railway line, the castle is fenced off but you can still see the ruin at the top of the crag. It's a nice walk passed the site of Dalmore Paper Mill which may soon be a housing estate, through the Old Woodhouselee Railway Tunnel and the high crag is there by Auchendinny Viaduct which crosses the River North Esk.
Rosslyn Castle
Rosslyn Castle, OS 66/NT 275-628 Midlothian Scotland.
Is an early 14th century stone peel and courtyard fortress, founded by Sir William St Clair, prince of Orkney. Standing on a rocky promontory which was breached on the north side to form a defensive ditch, a loop of the River North Esk, protects the other three sides. In 1390, Henry Sinclair, earl of Orkney added the great south-western donjon.
The site is owned by the Earl and Countess of Rosslyn and can be let has holiday accommodation from The Landmark Trust. A visit to the Chapel and the approach to the castle is a must.
Uttershill Castle
Uttershill Castle, OS 66/NT 238-594 Midlothian Scotland.
Is a late 16th stone defensible rectangular farmhouse or hall house, founded by the Penicuik family. The western half of the castle, was the first phase of building which consisted of a barrel vaulted undercroft, with an internal straight stair giving access to a first floor main chamber or hall with probably a garret above. In the early 17th century, the Preston family modified the hall and added an eastern extension, of a ground floor kitchen, with a solar and a garret above.
The site is visible from the road but also seems to be freely accessible in daylight hours at the moment. There as been a proposed restoration programme on this castle for some years and in 2002 the owner was waiting for approval from Historic Scotland for the work to go ahead.

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