Walk: Dark side of Roslin Glen - hidden world below a famous chapel

Midlothian | Roslin | Short walk | ★★★★

[Roslin Glen]

50 metres below Rosslyn Chapel is a hidden world that mightn't seem out of place in its own Dan Brown novel. Here, the River North Esk meanders through a rugged gorge bursting with caves, cliffs, rapids and wildlife amongst ancient woodland. From the main car park you can head in either direction along the gorge: west (upstream) is easier underfoot, but with less dramatic scenery - see here for our separate walk. Our eastern circuit snakes downstream along treacherous paths where a head for heights is useful and decent footwear is essential. Refreshments are available - but only for paying visitors - at Rosslyn Chapel on the higher-level return route, which also takes in the dramatic entrance to Roslin Castle.

[Rosslyn Chapel is visited on the return route]

Location & info

📌 Walk: Dark side of Roslin Glen - hidden world below a famous chapel ★★★★
Start / finish in Roslin Glen, B7003 0.5 mi south of Roslin, G.R.: NT 273629 ///tiger.violinist.settle.
🚌 Bus to Roslin, at a different point on the route | 🚗 Car park at start, or car park for Rosslyn Chapel elsewhere on route.

▶ 4 km / 2 mi | ▲ 120 m | ⌚ Short
Features: Roslin Glen; Rosslyn Chapel ★★★★; Roslin Castle
Tough | Rough, narrow & muddy paths with some fallen trees & steep drops next to the path - part below Roslin Castle is officially closed. Middle section is only just above the burn - no detour possible if in spate. Optional extension is rougher still, with some scrambling over tree trunks / landslips required (wooden staples have been added to one trunk to help cross it). Inadvisable if ground is wet. 1:25000 Ordnance Survey maps show the paths well.

Route: Car park - cross River North Esk on footbridge to east - follow north bank east (below Roslin Castle) to path junction at G.R.: NT 280632 - continue to G.R.: NT 284636 (optional) - return to path junction - Rosslyn Chapel - Roslin Castle - start (map shows both of our Roslin Glen routes)

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On our visit

Wildlife: Mallard ducks, grey wagtails, fish splashing, butterflies, bluebells in flower.
Weather: Mostly sunny with light winds while Storm Hannah battered other parts of the UK.

Chronological photo guide

[River North Esk near the car park]

[View from the footbridge]

[Grey wagtail]

[Boulders in the burn]


[Passing below Roslin Castle]

[River North Esk below Roslin Castle]

[Wallace's Cave on the opposite bank]

[River North Esk]

[Cave on the north bank]

[The path threads a route between the burn and the gorge side]

[Burnside path]

[Gorge of the River North Esk]

[Burnside path]

[Wild garlic]



[The optional eastern extension has serious erosion, though wooden staples help with this fallen tree]

[Fallen tree - take the right fork at the junction immediately beyond]

[End of the line - River North Esk]

[The return route is at a higher level]

[Farmland above the gorge]

[Rosslyn Chapel (paying visitors only)]

[Roslin Castle]

[Steps descend from the castle to the footbridge to return to the car park]


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