Venture into Roslin Glen and explore the mysteries of Rosslyn Chapel and its links with the Knights Templar and Holy Grail.
Roslin Glen is a mysterious and magical place. The enchanting woodlands conceal castle ruins with Royal connections, the scars of bloody battle and tales of ghostly apparitions. But most puzzling of all are the myths and legends associated with Rosslyn Chapel, where carvings heavy with unexplained symbolism hold many secrets.
The walk starts at the Roslin Glen Country Park car park where a path leads towards the River North Esk. A footbridge crosses the meandering flow and a path on the other side leads into the trees. Just before it reaches wooden steps, turn right and pass beneath Roslin Castle. The glen is said to be haunted by a phantom hound whose eerie barking is heard in the woods around the castle on stormy nights.
Beyond the 15th century ruins, the way briefly reunites with the river before climbing away from the water, rising to a dark avenue of ancient yews, their gnarled root snaking through the crumbling remains of a mossy stone wall. The path descends quite steeply from here, zigzagging down to the river. The route is easy enough to follow, but some agility is required to duck beneath fallen trunks.
The route splits; the path on the right offers a short detour to a shingle beach, a fine spot for a picnic, while the walk follows the left branch, climbing once again. Look out for Hawthorden Castle, a mansion perched atop plunging cliffs across the glen. The trees soon thin out and the path skirts through a narrow corridor between the river and open fields to reach a gate.
Turn left and follow the edge of the field, the path rising via a set of wooden steps to meet a track at a second gate. Go left, following a sign for Roslin, and the trail runs along the top of fields of arable land. The way joins a surfaced road leading into Roslin. It passes a cairn marking the site of the Battle of Roslin where a heavily outnumbered Scots army defeated the English in 1303.
Opposite The Original Roslin Inn, go left on Chapel Lane to Rosslyn Chapel. Founded in 1446 by Sir William St Clair, the ornate gothic chapel took 40 years to build and is famous for its decorative art and intricate stone carvings. Adorned with mysterious figures, the chapel has long been the subject of speculation regarding links to Freemasonry, the Knights Templar, and the Holy Grail. It played a key role in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code, and scenes for the film were also shot here. Some believe the Cup of Christ lies in a secret subterranean vault hidden beneath the building.
From the chapel, continue down the lane and turn left on a path that runs between two cemeteries. This leads to Roslin Castle, the original home of the St Clair family. Mary Queen of Scots spent a night here but the only habitable building now is the 16th century hall. At the castle entrance, a path on the right descends through the trees, leading back to the car park.
Distance: 4 miles/6.4km
Time: 2-3 hours
Start/finish: Roslin Glen Country Park car park (GR: NT 273628)
Map: Ordnance Survey Landranger Map 66
Information: Edinburgh Tourist Information Centre, www.edinburgh.org
Public transport: Lothian Buses (www.lothianbuses.com) service number 15 runs from the centre of Edinburgh to Roslin.
Route: as outlined above