Posted: September 2015
From Peebles, I will be driving north to a town 11 miles from Edinburgh city. I have rented a self-catering cottage on the grounds of the beautiful Arniston House estate. The house is a grand Palladian style mansion with large parkland and gardens. It has been home to the Dundas family for over 400 years. Below is a little history about the estate.
An insert from the Arniston House website -
"The estate originally belonged to the Knight’s Templar and then the Knight’s of Saint John. George Dundas and his second wife, Katherine Oliphant from Dundas Castle in South Queensferry acquired the land from the Crown in 1571 for a younger son. A tower house stood on the site from which two rooms were incorporated in to the present house you see today. The Dundases were a legal family dating back to the 1570s. In the 1700s they were one of the most powerful families in Scotland with two of the lairds being appointed President of the Court of Session.
Robert Dundas, the first Lord President commissioned William Adam to draw up plans for the current house. He began building in 1726 and the house was completed in the 1750s by John Adam. Formal gardens were laid out to the south of the house to a design by William but were then replaced by Capability Brown style parkland in 1750s. The house was devastated by dry rot in the 1950s.
The present owners, The Dundas-Bekker family embarked on a restoration programme in the 1970s beginning with the task of re-leading the roof. Historic Scotland grant aided the ambitious and successful project. Further grant aid for the next restoration phase resulted in the John Adam Drawing Room and Dining Room being lovingly returned to their former glory in the 1990s. The restoration programme is ongoing. Althea Dundas-Bekker and her daughter, Henrietta Dundas take great pleasure in guiding visitors around their home."
I will be staying in the Chestnut Cottage which is a quaint 2 bedroom cottage that has been renovated for all of our modern conveniences. The cottage is hidden away in a tranquil courtyard with views over farmland to the north and a courtyard to the south. The ground floor has the entrance hall, sitting room with fireplace, dining room, kitcken, small breakfast bar and a guest bedroom. The 1st floor (2nd story) has a king size bedroom and a full bath.
From this Midlothian town of Gorebridge, I will be venturing out to several sights near by.
Craigmillar Castle is set on the outskirts of Edinburgh and will be an absolute treat to visit. The castle is one of the most perfectly preserved castles in Scotland. The castle retains the character of a medieval stronghold. Building began in the early 15th century, and over the next 250 years the castle became a comfortable residence surrounded by fine gardens and pastureland. The castles history is not only closely involved with the city of Edinburgh, but plays an important part in the story of Mary Queen of Scots who fled to Craigmillar Castle following the murder of Rizzio. It was in the castle where the plot was hatched to murder Mary's husband, Lord Darnley.
Rosslyn is one of the most magical and mysterious chapels of Scotland's history. The intricate carvings and stonework inside the chapel are immaculate, impressive and very rare to this type of architecture. Rosslyn Chapel was founded in 1446 as a place of worship and services continue to be held here weekly. The Chapel has also been a popular destination for visitors for generations. By the late 18th-century, it was starting to appear on itineraries and its profile greatly increased after the publication of Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, in 2003, and the subsequent film. Rosslyn Chapel Trust was established in 1995 to care for the Chapel and oversee its conservation and public access.