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Roslin for Tourists
Firstly, how do you get to Roslin? Most tourists come to Roslin by bus or by car out from Edinburgh. Roslin lies just 7 miles (11km) south of the heart of Edinburgh, in the county of Midlothian, close the town of Penicuik (pronounced "Penny-cook").
By bus: Take the LRT number 15 (maroon and white) bus from the city centre of Edinburgh. (Gardens side of Princes Street). View the timetable here. The journey from the city centre takes about 40 minutes. Buses run every 30 minutes throughout the day. Points of interest along the way include Midlothian Snowsports Centre - Europe's largest and most challenging dry ski slope, lying on the Pentland Hills just as you exit Edinburgh; and Easter Bush Estate - Edinburgh University's picturesque Veterinary Sciences campus.
Many tourists are confused when the bus turns left at a large roundabout, close to the village, after seeing signs for "Roslin" pointing straight ahead! Don't worry, the bus just goes into the village by another access road about half a mile away. As the bus comes into the village you want to alight at the 4th bus stop, which is directly outside The Original Hotel. (This is the closest bus stop to Rosslyn Chapel, which is a three minute walk away.) A word of warning: the last bus from Roslin back into Edinburgh leaves generally at around 8pm weekdays, 6.20pm weekends, so don't get left behind. (Check the bus times back into Edinburgh on the bus stop beside the Roslin Cave shop on the other side of the road, which will all the buses run.)
You can also get LRT bus no's 37, 47, X37 and X47 or First Bus no. 62 from the city centre, which stop in the village of Bilston. Bilston is a good 10-15 minute walk to Roslin along the road
signposted "B7006 Roslin" (also signposted "Rosslyn Chapel"). You can also get the bus back into Edinburgh from here if you miss the last bus from the village in the evening.
LRT bus service no. 40 also serves the village, but goes on a circuitous route from Edinburgh's seaside suburb of Portobello, in the NE of the city.
By taxi: A taxi will cost you about £22 each way from and to Edinburgh City Centre.
By car: Roslin and Penicuik are signposted from the A720, Edinburgh City By-pass at "Straiton Junction". Follow signs for "A701 Penicuik, Peebles". Go past IKEA, an ASDA supermarket and a large Nissan car showroom on the left on the A701. Carry straight on through the traffic lights just past the Nissan showroom, entering the village of Bilston. Take the first left at a small roundabout just after you enter Bilston, signposted "B7006 Roslin". Roslin is one mile from here. (From the bypass it is a five minute journey to Roslin.)
There's no need to write all this information down as you can see the mobile version of this website on your phone when you are in the village. Bookmark it now on your cell / mobile phone.
There are quite a number of things to see and do in Roslin as well as just Rosslyn Chapel. Find out more below:
Now looking magnificent after its multi-million pound, 16-year, restoration and building of a new visitor centre, the chapel can be fully seen again in all its majesty.
Rather than us reinventing the wheel, find out all you need to know about Rosslyn Chapel on the Chapel's official website.
If you want a special tour of the Chapel then why not use the services of Roslin's very own tour company, Rosslyn Tours? They can pick you up from your accommodation in Edinburgh or Edinburgh Airport and bring you out to Roslin for your own personal tour of Rosslyn Chapel and the beautiful Roslin Glen.
One thing you won't find find out about on the Rosslyn Chapel website is what was it like for the villagers when they did the filming of The Da Vinci Code at the Chapel back in September 2005? Well for starters, after a lovely spell of weather the week before, the week of filming was rather spoiled by a huge storm, when it didn't stop horizontally raining for virtually the whole week! The film crew really couldn't have timed it any worse! Although some villagers got jobs as extras, most of us were kept at arm's length, at the top of Chapel Loan, behind the security barriers and security staff. Did any of us see the stars of the movie? Mostly no, as Tom Hanks and co stayed in a top hotel in Edinburgh each night. However, some people who were there at the end of one day's filming did say that they saw Tom wave at them as he sped past in his car along Main Street. (Filming Footnote: the film crew came back for another two days filming, a couple of months after the initial shoot, to get some better footage of the outside of the chapel in less stormy conditions.)
Although not signposted, the 14thC Rosslyn Castle can be found by walking down the steep lane on the right hand side of Rosslyn Chapel towards Roslin Cemetery. At the foot of the steep lane, take the lane on the left that runs between the two old cemeteries. The Castle is a three minute walk, slightly downhill, from here. There are great views of the castle sitting up above the surrounding Roslin Glen (valley).
is now a holiday home, available for let (and very nice inside too we
hear!), so you cannot actually go into it unless you hire it for a night or a week from The
Landmark Trust. The Castle featured in "The Da Vinci Code" film, in the
scene after Rosslyn Chapel when Robert and Sophie bid a fond goodbye to
one another. (You may be interested to hear that the small pool which Sophie dips her foot into, doesn't actually exist in real life. It was put there by the film crew for the filming.) More information on Rosslyn Castle.
Battle of Roslin (1303) Monument
- Download an information sheet all about the battle here.
After the Battle of Roslin memorial cairn the path continues on, along an old railway line, all the way to the small town of Loanhead (1½ miles away) over the spectacular Bilston Glen viaduct, which is well worth a look with its high views over Midlothian. From Loanhead, you can catch the LRT no. 37 bus back into Edinburgh.
Plaque to "Bovril" Johnston
plaque commemorating the birthplace of humble butcher John Lawson Johnston who invented the
famous beef-brew, Bovril, which went on to be sold worldwide and become a
favourite of football fans for decades, can be
found on the wall adjacent to Bovril Johnston's Cafe on Main Street, just
down from Roslin Library.
Born in this house in 1839 at 29 Main Street, Johnston was a local butcher who reportedly responded to Napoleon III's challenge of getting a million cans of beef for his hungry army by inventing Johnston's Fluid Beef, later re-named Bovril in the 1870s.
Roslin Glen Country Park
Dorothy Wordsworth, sister of the English poet William, (he of "I wandered lonely as a cloud...") wrote, after the pair's visit to Roslin Glen in 1803 that, "I never passed through a more delicious dell than the Glen of Rosslyn". Indeed you'll find the same in the 21st Century, as little has changed. This is a lovely peaceful place in which to wander for an hour or two, away from the hubbub of modern life.
For more details on walks in and around Roslin Glen we would thoroughly recommend the new walks leaflet that has been produced by Roslin Heritage
Society. Updated in 2010, it has been renamed "Campbell's Rambles round Roslin"
in honour of the founder chairman of the Heritage Society. It can be purchased in the Rosslyn Chapel Gift Shop and Roslin Post Office on Main Street.
- Link to the Roslin Glen webpage on Midlothian Council's website.
- Download the official Roslin Glen Information Leaflet,
Roslin Gunpowder Mills & Carpet Factory (ruins)
As you walk through Roslin Glen Country Park, it’s hard to believe that this was once a highly industrialised area. When you arrive at the large open Roslin Glen car park - now all grass, trees and wild flower meadows - can you imagine Queen Victoria’s linen tablecloths and napkins (beautifully made in Dunfermline) lying spread out on grassy banks to bleach in the sun? Can you hear the chatter of the factory workers as they scurried down the steep steps of Jacob’s Ladder to start their day in what was then the world-famous Roslin Carpet Factory? And further upstream, “through the gates”, can you imagine the horror and distress when there was an accident in the Gunpowder Mills and a massive explosion shattered the peace of the countryside for miles around?
The Bleachfields (what is now the car park of Roslin Glen Country Park) were used for over 100 years from early in the 18th Century until bleaching became more of a chemical process and the site was taken over by Whytock’s carpet factory, looking to relocate from further downstream at Lasswade in 1868. Whytock had invented a special method of making tapestry carpets and table covers - these amazing works of art being produced in Roslin Glen for many years up to when the factory closed in 1969. Both these industries required copious amounts of water, and in the early days the machinery was water powered.
The atmospheric ruins of Roslin Gunpowder Mills can be found towards the southern end of Roslin Glen, a 20 minute stroll from Rosslyn Castle. To get to it, take a right out of the Roslin Glen Car Park and walk over the road bridge above the River North Esk until you come to a very sharp hairpin bend. Cross the road here and pass through the old mill gates and carry on walking on the path, high above the river, for a good 10 minutes.
The site, right on the bank of
the river North Esk, was ideal and remains of weirs, mill lades and filter beds
can be seen.
Here, the protection of the deep, steep wooded valley proved to be an ideal site for Roslin Gunpowder Mills which started production in 1804 and continued producing "Black Powder" gunpowder until they closed in 1954. As well as making blasting powders for the quarrying and mining industries, they also produced military and sporting powders. There was a large munitions factory working during both World Wars and even earlier. You can see the remains of many buildings as you walk along the track, some recessed into the bank to help guard against an accidental explosion spreading from one to the next. In the beginning, the mills were water powered and the remains of two of the incorporating mills, with gables to hold a water wheel can still be seen. If the river is in spate, you can imagine the force of the water driving the gear as it rushes over the picturesque nearby weir.
Accommodation and Food in Roslin
The Original Roslin Hotel - Our local hotel is "The Original", as we call it here in the village. It's a comfortable, family-run business owned and operated by the Harris family. Food is served daily from their friendly Lounge Bar. The rooms are fully en-suite and free WiFi is available. The hotel also includes "The Grail" Restaurant which is open at weekends. The hotel is just a three minute walk away from Rosslyn Chapel. Address: Main Street, Roslin. Tel: +44(0)131 440 2384. E-mail the hotel.
B&B's - There are no Bed and Breakfast establishments in Roslin.
Campsite: Slatebarns Caravan Park which is situated just next to Rosslyn Chapel in a pretty, sheltered setting.
Self-catering: Probably the most atmospheric self-catering homes in the area are either Rosslyn Castle or Collegehill House. Also try Rosebank Cottage, Gorton House or Hunter Holiday Cottages, just 2 miles away from the village and surrounded by the pretty Midlothian countryside. Alternatively, unwind in the stunning and well-appointed Eastside Cottages, beautifully hidden away in the folds of the nearby Pentland Hills.
Our other hotel recommendations in the general area of Roslin are the historic Dalhousie Castle Hotel and Spa - a very grand castle with stunning interiors; the wonderful, family-orientated Peebles Hydro Hotel in the pretty Borders town of Peebles (25 mins drive south from the village) with it's beautiful views over the Borders hills and forests (has leisure facilities); and The Barony Castle Hotel - (20 mins drive south) with lovely hill views, beautiful gardens, small but nice leisure facilities and stylish modern Scottish interiors.
Bovril Johnston's Cafe - Bovril Johnston's Cafe is situated within Roslin Chapel's visitor centre where you can sample the famous brew Bovril, in its hot drink form, and also as an ingredient in a number of the cafe's recipes. They also do mighty fine coffee, shakes and juices, hearty soups and sandwiches and huge cakes!
Rosslyn Chapel Tea Room (name change due shortly) - Situated across the road from The Original Hotel, this is an old fashioned tea room in the classic sense, selling cakes, tea and coffee.
Gift Shops in Roslin
Opened by local, Diane McCarry, RoseLine Gallery is situated beside Roslin Library at 15 Main Street, just down from the Roslin Glen Hotel. It is not just a gallery for encaustic Art, which is a wax medium that artists have been using since ancient Egyptian times, but also stocks 100's of unique gifts for any occasion including jewelery, ornaments, crystals and geodes and books and CD's. Tel: 0131 448 0896. E-mail the store here.
Do you have a tourist question about Roslin you'd like to ask us? If you do, please e-mail us here.
For a brief history of Roslin and the surrounding area, we would recommend reading Roslin Heritage Society’s book "Old Roslin", published by Stenlake Publishing. The Society’s CD-ROM "Roslin Gunpowder Mills", which also includes information about some of the flora and fauna of the area, gives a comprehensive history of the Gunpowder Mills; whilst the Esk Valley Trust’s DVD "The River North Esk - From Source to Sea" has some stunning film of the North Esk Valley (especially Roslin Glen of course!) and includes archive footage of the Gunpowder Mills in operation.
Both of the above are available to buy at the Rosslyn Chapel Shop.