Monday, 8 February 2016

Penicuik House

I was browsing the map of our locality. How far up the River North Esk could I extend my training runs? My eye was caught by what looked like a stately home and grounds. Penicuik House. Never heard of it. I looked it up.

Penicuik House:


How could I have been living here so long and not have heard of this vast pile before? Explorable ruins are catnip to my wife. We vowed to visit as soon as possible.

The approach is made over estate tracks, past a round tower folly on a hill. The house was destroyed in a fire in 1899 and only recently were the ruins cleaned up and stabilised. But although this was our first knowledge of it, many other families were out walking dogs. Clearly this is one of Penicuik's top recreational spots.

Another folly - The Ramsay Monument:


The house itself is a handsome Palladian design. (The even more interesting house it replaced no longer exists - a Scots baronial pile called Newbiggin which was demolished for the rational grander of the current ruin.) It was built in 1761 by Sir James Clerk, 3rd Baronet of Nova Scotia. (The Clerks also built the earlier Mavisbank House, further down the Esk). The family gained a fortune in France in the 17th century, land at Penicuik in the mid 17th century, and the 2nd Baronet fame as a politician who supported and drove the Union of Parliaments with England.

Penicuik House gable end:


The Clerk family still live on the estate, which is now a much appreciated green lung for local visitors. I suspect that for most regular visitors the glories are the riverside, forest and paths, and that the ruined house barely merits a second glance. I will be back - perhaps on a long training run from my own, rather more modest, house.

1 comment:

blueskyscotland said...

Not visited there either. Noticed the signs for walks up the River North Esk a few years ago on cycle tours past Penicuik and always fancied going back as far as the path across at the weir then Cornton. You've probably been but I had a good day out in the past at Dalkeith Country Park estate then up the River North Esk to Broomhill. Plenty of large mansions, nice scenery...spacious and complex enough to really loose your bearings on a first time visit. Suitable for cycling as well. It's a lovely area for cycle touring between the Pentlands and the Moorfoots with loads of quiet minor roads.