Mayfield Explorers

Bus Trip Review

We set off from Y2K at 11am – Ten Mayfield Explorers with Y2K staff, Elaine and Carol.  We were very lucky to have a willing volunteer Tour Guide and Driver for the day – Al Rae who did a fantastic job of bringing the different landmarks to life.

First stop was Arniston Colliery which had two pits – the ‘Emily’ and the ‘Gore’. The colliery was built in 1858 although we know that there had been coal mining in Gorebridge since the late 1700s.  The colliery was run by landowners – the Dundas family (whose home ‘Arniston House’ was our next stop).
Arniston House is a Georgian mansion designed by William Adam in 1726 for Robert Dundas (the western wing of the house was added in 1753). We didn’t go into the house but were very brave and got out in the wind and pouring rain to have a look around.  Al shared a bit of the history with us before we dashed back to the minibus.

Temple was so-named because of its connection the Knights Templar – a Catholic military order, founded in 119 (active until 1312 when they were suppressed by Pope Clement V). They were very popular throughout Christian Europe, distinctive in their white mantles with a red cross, and were the most skilled fighting unit in the Crusades. We enjoyed looking through the graveyard and found some fantastic old gravestones – one with skull and crossbones!

Most of us had been in and around Newbattle Abbey before the trip – we learned that it was founded in 1140 by monks from Melrose Abbey. The Abbey was burned by English royal forces not once but twice! (1385 and 1544). Throughout its history it was dear to the kings of Scotland, including David 1 of Scotland and Robert the Bruce. No wonder we are so patriotic here in Scotland!

We were starting to get hungry and it was still raining so we decided to have a quick drive past the Dalkeith Corn Exchange on way to grab lunch at a modern-day landmark (McDonalds). Al told us that the corn exchange is a Grade A listed building, currently home to Melville Housing Association. It was once one of the largest and busiest corn exchanges in the country, dating back to 1854 when it was the largest indoor grain market in Scotland.

Once we had lunch, we were delighted to find the rain had stopped and it turned into a lovely bright afternoon. 

We made our way to Rosslyn Chapel, a 15th-century chapel located in the village of Roslin. It was built on a small hill above Roslin Glen as a Catholic collegiate church founded by William Sinclair, 1st Earl of Caithness.

There were lots of tourists around and this is mainly due to all the fuss over the Dan Brown book ‘The Da Vinci Code’ – some of us had seen the film with Tom Hanks.  This time Al didn’t have to do a talk for us – we listened to a guide in the chapel who gave a talk about the story of the chapel. It sounds like the publicity from Dan Brown’s book has meant that they got funding to restore the chapel and now keep it safe for future generations.  Some of the stories of how the building was used to house animals or was left open to the wind and rain for years and years were interesting.  Also, there was a story of how one of the stone masons murdered an apprentice because he was jealous of his talent.  We took lots of photos in the grounds and it was a great end to the tour.

Taylor Redpath

Mayfield Explorer   

Easthouses Colliery