Heading eastward from the junction of the main A68 Dalkeith to Jedburgh road turning leftwards along the A6093 at the war memorial, before too long the countryside opens up, past the farmlands of the West Byres, to reveal the lands of Ormiston.
By car, instead of turning down into Ormiston, constrained by convenience, one is most likely to continue eastwards along the A6093. To the left just past the junction with Ormiston the farm and lands of the edge of Pencaitland parish can be seen, this area being farmed from Wolfstar.
Immediately to the right the Pencaitland Woods can be seen standing less than half a mile away. A road until recently could be passed went up and over the woods showing the dividing line between the Pencaitland Woods and the Ormiston Woods (planted by John Cockburn.) The road then leads to another that linked Pencaitland to House o’ Muir in Ormiston. The road continues on to Templehall.
Along that road the late Lord Polwarth, when a boy, rode his pony traveling home to Humbie House. The postman with his horses passed and the horses were changed at an Inn called the Wa’s, which then stood at the junction of this road with that intersects the road between Pencaitland and House o’ Muir. Eastwards along the intersection after a few hundred yards brings us to the mansion house called Fountain Hall or Penkaet Castle.
Stopping just a few hundred yards along the main A6093, just at the now named Woodhall Picnic site, where the Woodhall Colliery once stood marks a good place to stop and investigate the area. The bing (coal) wastes on which the plantation now stands is all that remains. The Woodhall Colliery railway line which terminated at Gifford runs alongside. This is now a very pleasant countryside walkway.
I think more can be seen on foot, so from the Picnic site at Woodhall a pleasant but strenuous walk (approximately 4 miles) can be made along part of the railway walk and through the local estate lands into Pencaitland and back.
Please read this prior to taking part on this walk.
By continuing northward following the old railway line heading towards the estate of Winton the lands of Wolfstar can be seen. Heading down to the Tyne the path crosses over a lovely stone bridge that has survived the winter and spring torrents of the river over the years. To the left the village of Ormiston can be seen and to the right the lands of Winton Estate. In line with Ormiston a service road marks a way back towards Ormiston, instead by walking to the right access is made along the edge of the field to Winton, and onward to Pencaitland.
Walking eastward, alongside the burn to the left and across the field the river Tyne to the right the low lying land next to the river can be seen. Passing the gamekeepers house and other farm buildings to the left one should continue along the path taking care to ensure any dog is on a lead to protect the farmers livestock usually grazing on the lush green grass. Before too long, a view of Winton House can be seen. As well as the magnificent Winton House, the terraced gardens flow gently down to the meadowlands, between the house and the river. This path was once trod by Sir Thomas Dick Lauder. Cross over to the riverside and walk back to the small iron bridge, referred to as the “white bridge.” Cross over the white bridge and walk through the plantation quite close to the river Tyne, the Pirnie Braes plantation has recently been selectively felled and cleared allowing more light to the remaining tree stock.
Eventually you will come out of the woods at the other side and at Pencaitland. Follow the path to the road and you will meet the bridge between Easter and Wester Pencaitland.
Head up the hill, into Wester Pencaitland, seeing the ancient cross ahead and other interesting buildings in what used to be the village square. Approach the cross and have a scan around. Looking back the way you came there is a hall, called Trevelyan Hall (on front of the hall opposite reads a monogram of Arthur Trevelyan cut into the stone.) Since his death in 1880, almost all of the social, recreational and educational meetings were held in this hall.
Back at the cross, there is a modern petrol filling station, shop, and post office. The mercat cross itself signifies that a market or fair used to take place there in former times. The history and age of the cross is not known. Supporting the use of the site as a market, a notice was published in the Edinburgh Gazette on Monday 21st to Thursday 24th August 1699, viz. “This is to give notice that two fairs are to be holden at Wester Pencaitland in the Sheriffdom of Haddington, for horse, nolt [probably cattle] and sheep, also all sorts of linen and woollen cloth, the first upon the 4th October and the other on the 8th day of June, yearly, free of custom for three years.”
At one time there was a extensive brewery carried out in Wester Pencaitland by Mr. Hunter who combined it with a large bakery. Baxters and Brewers [Baps and Yill] were a frequent fraternity of trades long ago. Mr. Hunter was succeeded in the baking business by Mr. John Hamilton for whom a new bakery and house were built. The dwellers of Pencaitland at that time were mostly engaged in agricultural work.
Following the road back that runs at right angles to the hall, and past low level cottages, you will come across the Miners’ Institute to the right before the road turning up Queen’s Drive, which has been transformed into living accommodation but used to have a billiard room, a reading room and accommodation for meetings.
Continuing up that road takes you on towards Lempock Wells, seen as Lampock Wells on old maps.
It and Huntlaw were tenanted for one or two leases by Mr George Rate, who along with his brother John, of Milton, built Kinchie (Glenkinchie) distillery about 1824. Their grandfather and father came from Northumberland to settle in Saltoun and Pencaitland parishes as lime burners. There was a bleachfield on the banks of the burn in those days. Not far from Kinchie, a quarter of a mile away from Milton Mill, now disused, is the burial knowe where cists and Roman remains were found.
If heading along that road the next main right turn heads up onto Huntlaw Road and heading back towards the railway line walk. Half way up the road the railway bridge can be seen. To the left of the road a set of steps lead up to the walkway. Once at the top with Pencaitland on your right, you want to head back towards the picnic site to collect your car… my reasoning will be explained later – of course you could with a plan do some of this all by car, but it if it a nice day, you will thank me for this walk, no, you will. Just before you pass the Maltings, you will see Pencaitland Station house, a white building. Farther along you pass the road that leads up to Woodhall, and you can see the A6093 to the right. Continue along the railway walk and you will come out just at the opposite side of the railway path you walked down at the start. Return to the picnic site and pick up your car! You will most likely need a rest now?
Of course any of the areas mentioned can be investigated in any order by other means.
As you can obviously work out the only way to Pencaitland is to leave the Picnic Site, turn right and follow the road all the way into the village.
However a few other points of interest are seen on this last section of road. A row of cottages called Red Row used to stand close by where the current buildings are at the junction of the road and where it intersects the railway, now referred to as Kiloran. The next farm passed on the left is Broomrigg, also referred to as Broomrig. Past the farm cottages and on past a conifer boundary plantation to the barley maltings, creating malt, using local barley and locally pumped water from an on site well. Then you are in Wester Pencaitland.
Wester Pencaitland was purchased by Patrick Dudgeon Esq. of Eastcraig from Fletchers Trustees about 1833. Mr Dudgeon built Tyneholm. In 1838 he purchased Woodhall and Wolfstar from the Trustees of Adam Bogue Esq. of Linplum. Wester Pencaitland, Woodhall, Wolfstar and Broomrigg were at one time part of the old Winton Estate of the Earls of Winton and Seton.
One of the older houses was lived in by Mortimer-Batten, a well known naturalist and writer of the time.
In the mid 1900′s Wester Pencaitland has been considerably built up as a result of local council housing being built, marking a significant change in the type and style of housing in the village.
Modern houses have also been built privately in Easter Pencaitland.