What is a bridge? It is an artificial structure that leads us from one shore to another, helping us overcome some kind of obstacle. There are physical and metaphorical bridges; today I am going to write about both of them.
River Esk flows through Midlothian, and offers a spectacular sight at Roslin Glen Country Park, in Roslin, not far from Rosslyn Chapel. There, we can be astonished not only by the works of man, but by its inspirer, nature itself. There are some physical bridges in Roslin Glen to cross over the river among the lush vegetation and the murmuring stream. But there are others as well, in the guise of symbols carved in stone, which make us take a leap of imagination and reach the land where mysteries lay, as treasures for the deserving hero.
Roslin Castle. Before daring to step a foot into the forest, the visitor can contemplate this old fortress, located on the north bank of Esk River. Its evocative ruins may remind us of Alan Lee’s romantic watercolours, but this is a very solid building with lots of History behind. There was a castle there in the 14th century, which belonged to the Sinclair family, although this one is a reconstruction from the 16th century, which has been partially habitable ever since. Nowadays, it is a holiday accommodation.
While I was going around the castle to admire its walls and battlements, I accidentally stumbled upon a scene that suggested some kind of neopagan ritual, perhaps related to Wiccan magic. Judging by the freshness of the roses displayed there, one could tell it had been recently performed. This is the perfect example of how the work of man and nature meet through symbolism. I could not think of a better place to find the remains of a ritual.
The Face in Lover’s Leap. Once we abandon the security of the castle, we find ourselves surrounded by ancient trees, deciding which way to take. There are several paths with interesting routes. If we choose the one that descends to the river, we can find a pulpit-like rock formation with lots of names carved on its surface: Lover’s Leap. Which is interesting, however, lays close to the ground. If we go around Lover’s Leap we can find a strange face carved there among the moss, another symbol that demands interpretation. Some say it is a green man, like the ones that embellish Rosslyn Chapel, while others suggest it might be the representation of an ape. Either way, I think it suits the luxuriant forest that encircles the rock.
Wallace’s Cave. Once we find the river, the path becomes narrower and a little bit dangerous, but if the visitor is feeling adventurous, they can discover the beauty of the landscape next to the stream. Perhaps the most interesting sight here is Wallace’s Cave (or Hawthornden Castle Cave), which takes its name from the national hero (“Braveheart”) who participated in the Battle of Roslin (1303), that took place near the cave.
Roslin Glen Country Park Bridge. If we turn back to the castle, we can take another path towards one of the bridges over the River Esk, and just enjoy the wonders of nature.
But be careful, or you might just stumble upon a troll! Or is it just our imagination playing tricks…? Anyways, we cannot deny that Roslin Glen is a magical place.