Thursday 22 March 2012: Allan Ramsay Monument (And Roxy)
Today's walk was round the estate of Penicuik House. The public entrance over the Knights Law Bridge looked to be blocked as it is under repair, but in fact as a pedestrian walkway was under construction at a low level and we were allowed to move the barrier aside.
The house itself has been a ruin following a fire in June 1899 and is now busy with cranes and a workforce making the edifice safe, with a view to public access to the ground floor. It is also a training ground for the skills required in restoration.
Our explorations began along the lime avenue east of the house, to the view of the Allan Ramsay Monument, built in 1759 in honour of the painter, a family friend. As I was lining up my photo, a horse and rider suddenly emerged from the slope below; they kindly gave permission for Roxy to appear on blip. I do love his/her hairy feet. We descended to the (closed) Roman bridge and followed the river upstream, listening to the birdsong and woodpecker drumming and saw our first Peacock butterfly of the season.
At the lower pond we witnessed an amphibian love-fest - in a pile of frogspawn there were hundreds of frogs milling about, croaking, splashing, swimming this way and that while nearby, on the grass, a pair of toads continued their relationship away from the madness in the water. On the other side of the pond the heron needed look no further than its own feet for a tasty supper.
We couldn't find the access from our path to the high pond (notices declaring the area Private) but instead found ourselves through a gateway, complete with derelict wrought-iron gates and crest, to a walled garden surprisingly full of Spruce trees, with a central decorative pond neglected, and ornamental steps up to where glasshouses might have produced exotic fruit for the house.
The path, parallel to the main road, returned us to the car and on for a quick lunch and the weekly shop.