Today I attended a further meeting of the Esk Valley Heritage Group. This was kindly hosted by Sir Robert Clerk in the dining room of Penicuik House.
The ‘Villas of the Esk’ have great signiﬁcance as a group, linked by the river Esk, from Newhailes and Inveresk right up to Penicuik and Newhall, and as James Simpson, architect and conservationist has remarked “they are much more, as it were, than as the sum of the parts.”
The valleys of the rivers of the North and South Esk in Midlothian have an extraordinary heritage that is particularly linked to the story of the Scottish Enlightenment. Whilst many noble men of Enlightenment had town houses in Edinburgh, they also possessed retreats outwith the city within a short horse ride of the city centre.
The valley of the river of the North Esk alone contains Newhall, the Penicuik estate, the remains of Brunstane Castle and the Ravensneuk Castle, Auchendinny House, Roslin Castle, Hawthorndean Castle, Mavisbank House and policies, Melville Castle, Dalkeith House and Policies Newhailes House and Policies as well as Pinkie House. The South Esk has Arniston and Policies, Dalhousie Castle and Newbattle House and policies.