Saturday, June 29, 2013

Rosslyn Castle

Viewforth High School's old minibus came belting along Elgin Street at 10mph just before 10.00am and a good few walkers had already gathered, fair dying to get away on the summer trip to Rosslyn Chapel. We had been watching the weather forecast all week hoping for a fair day and prayers were answered. We left at 10 on the dot once all the seats on the bus were occupied, and just as if the radio had been switched on, the blethering started.  
50 mph all the way to midlothian seemed like eternity so it was about 11am by the time we reached Roslin. We knew we would have a delay before our guided tour began so had planned to bring along a wee snackette to keep wolves from the door. It was lovely just hanging about in the sunshine, eating our picnics in the grounds of the chapel and admiring the stunning architecture of the chapel built by William Sinclair the 1st earl of Caithness for the Sinclair family.

Although the Sinclairs no longer live or worship here, one Helen Sinclair was the founder of the trust in 1995 with the intention of conservation of the chapel through opening it up to the paying public. Little was she to know what would happen ten years later .

As this is a working church  - St Matthew's Episcopal Church - at 1200 a few local ladies conducted a short service of prayer and so the majority of us took part in that before our guide began her talk at 1215. Boy did this lady know her stuff. She talked at a great rate of knots giving the history of Rosslyn from its creation in 15th century until the present fascination  instigated by Dan Brown's  novel the Da Vinci Code and a Hollywood blockbuster of the same name. We were enthralled by her knowledge of the carvings which were captivating as they depict stories of religious, masonic, pagan and Knights Templar  -  it is no wonder that this building attracts so much international interest. We were told that, before the movie, the chapel had 30,000 visitors per year. They now have 140,000 per year. We were told the story of the Apprentice's pillar and the Mystery over his murder by the master mason. We took time to trace some of the carvings of note including Green men, the seven sins and the seven virtues, Lucifer in chains and the pendant keystone in the middle of the roof.  You somehow expected to see Tom Hanks running down the stairs to the crypt but he wasn't there. We checked.
Outside once again we took some more photos and then headed off on a four mile walk from Roslin to Polton which had been advertised as 'absolutely flat'. Hmphh.

Undulating is the nicest euphemism I heard. There was nothing of any interest at Polton so we came back via the same route only this time because there was climbing involved, comments became a bit more blunt.
We were glad to have a wee seat at this memorial for a photo and catch our breath again.

Back at the minibus, we changed out of our walking boots (!!) as we were going for a meal at Melville Inn Lasswade. Now we expected to be there in 4 miles but when it looked like we were getting  a bit lost we had to stop and ask a local for directions. The driver made one of her unusual manoeuvres to face the other direction and we were off again.  Hilda, the navigator, who has never been to Lasswade before, did her best, but was eventually told to belt up by the driver who was crabbit and hungry by this time. Melville Inn came into sight and we were relieved. It was a lovely, comfortable place for 17 of us to eat  and very reasonably priced. We all thoroughly enjoyed our meals and then it was 'Home James" at 50mph  again.
What a lovely crowd on today's walk: we are all so comfortable with each other.
Back safe and sound at Elgin Street everyone appeared very content with this year's trip as they said their goodbyes. Just to take the minibus back now.
As always the driver completes the log, checks the inside and outside of the bus and removes all possessions. Just a cotton pickin minute..... where did the driver's walking shoes get to?
(!!) She just pictured them sitting there, abandoned in the middle of the bus park at Rosslyn Chapel and wondered if their paths would ever cross again.....