Live Local with National Mining Museum Scotland’s Gillian Rankin

by Scotland Starts Here, 14th July 2020
Live Local with National Mining Museum Scotland’s Gillian Rankin

In Live Local with… Midlothian and Scottish Borders locals share their favourite places, from restaurants and shops to walks, views and more. The series is about all the things – big and small – that make living and working in the area so special.

Read on, and start exploring like a local.

Gillian is the Marketing and Events Manager at the National Mining Museum Scotland. The 5-star attraction in the former Lady Victoria Colliery in Newtongrange tells the story of coal for Scotland through two floors of fascinating exhibitions. Visitors can tour the pithead and recreated underground with ex-miner guides to find out all about the place and its stories through the nationally significant collection. The iconic headframe and chimney of the Lady Vic have always been a part of Gillian’s life. After all, she has lived near Bonnyrigg in Midlothian all her life. She even remembers hearing the pit hooter from her house when she was a wee girl.

So, let us in on your local secrets, Gillian. What are some of your favourite places?

Springfield Mill

In my spare time, I love to go walking, and there are some absolutely beautiful walking trails in Midlothian. My all-time favourite walk is from Polton Village, along the River Esk towards either Roslin or Lasswade.

Polton Village itself is a great place to start as it is home to Springfield Mill. The former paper mill closed in the late 1960s, and most of the buildings were demolished. Then, Midlothian Council used the remaining buildings for a while until they too were pulled down in the 1990s. I remember exploring the old buildings, so this place brings back lots of memories for me. In the late 90s, the Springfield Mill Action Group formed to raise awareness of the site’s wildlife value and restore it. Thanks to the group, you can now enjoy seasonal ponds, wildflower meadows, riverside walks and a pond-dipping area.

Springfield Mill – Lasswade

Lovely walks on Tarred pathway to riverside, suitable for wheelchairs, and whin pathways to woodlands, ponds and wildflower meadows

Mavisbank House

On the other side of the bridge from Springfield Mill in Polton Village, you can walk right along the riverside to Lasswade. As well as the peaceful sounds of nature, there are some fantastic landmarks on the way. Mavisbank House is clearly signposted from the pathway and well worth a visit! Although fenced off, you can walk around the outside of this once lavish, William Adam-designed villa. Gutted by fire in the 70s, it remains a ruin to this day.

As you come off the pathway into Lasswade, you will be facing Lasswade Old Kirk and Graveyard. The churchyard contains the ruins of the Norman Church and the Commonwealth War Graves. The ruins are lovely and worthy of a wander.

Mavisbank House – Loanhead

Mavisbank is a historic country house outside of the village of Loanhead.

Roslin Glen Country Park

Heading from Polton Village in the opposite direction along the River Esk, you can walk to Rosslyn Chapel and Roslin Glen Country Park. Here, you can find the ruins of Rosslyn Castle. If you’re really lucky, you may even be able to find Wallace’s Cave. You may have guessed it: It’s named after William Wallace, the Scottish national hero, who participated in the Battle of Rosslyn in 1303.

Roslin Glen Country Park – Roslin

Roslin Glen Country Park, a place with a rich industrial and cultural heritage. Explore the natural Esk Valley on a number of walks spotting wildlife

The Paper Mill

Lasswade is home to my two favourite local restaurants. The Paper Mill (which was indeed once a paper mill) sits right on the River Esk and has a lovely outdoor deck. It’s a popular spot to hang out end enjoy a cocktail or two. We love walking down for breakfast at the weekend or popping in for lunch. The Macaroni Cheese is out of this world!

The Paper Mill – Lasswade

Bar and Restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, or the perfect drop off spot for coffee & cake, or a refreshing drink.

Luci’s Restaurant and Cocktail Bar

Luci’s Restaurant and Cocktail Bar is on the other side of the bridge. The cocktail bar is a great place to enjoy a sharing platter or Italian afternoon tea and a bottle of wine with friends! As Luci’s also sits on the Esk, the view from the Cocktail Bar window is lovely. You almost feel as if you’re on a riverboat!

I won’t be travelling abroad for my holidays this year. Instead, I’ll be staying in Scotland and exploring the amazing things our country has to offer. Fingers crossed for good weather!

Do you have any favourite spots or personal highlights in Midlothian and the Borders? Let us know the places that make the area feel like home for you!