Eskbank, one of the four districts of Dalkeith, in the shire of Midlothian, the others are Dalkeith town centre, Newbattle and Mayfield. Eskbank is often regarded as the “posh” part of town where all the large Victorian stone-built houses are located, now homes for the Bitcoin bankers, hedge-fund managers, architects, doctors and the other wealthy nobs of that ilk. Eskbank does not cover a large area so has relatively few zones, around ten in total. The boundaries of Eskbank, at least towards Dalkieth town centre are indistinct, so again I’ve made an arbitrary decision which zones to include in our wee turf tour.
Our tour starts at zone Eskbank, conveniently located at Eskbank railway station, ideal for those who may arrive by iron horse, and with ample parking for those arriving by infernal combustion vehicle. If arriving by four-hoof drive mammal of the equine variety – okay, someone might – you’re on your own, though I guess you wouldn’t be parking up a horse anyway and would be using it for turfing. Now, that’s an interesting idea, turfing on horseback. Note, there’s good shelter here should you find yourself in need but no toilets.
The zone itself can be found on the footbridge taking you across the railway line towards Tesco. Nothing much of interest here but the wee boy in me still has me looking for any sign of a train and then has me waiting until it draws away again. Never had a toy train set when I was young as we were very poor and lived in a shoe box on the central reservation of the motorway. Maybe that has something to do with it.
Next zone on tour itinerary is A7View. Continue across the footbridge, then follow the path round, keeping left until you reach an open gravel area at the garage. Join the Dalkeith to Penicuik cycleway here and go up the short climb to the footbridge across the A7 road. As I write there’s construction works in progress here, immediately to the north. One building will be a drive-through for Starbucks and another for Greggs. I’ve never heard of a Greggs drive-through before but quite like the idea of an early morning sausage roll and Belgian bun while out turfing. I guess you can drive-through on a bicycle?
Hardengreen zone is next. Head back down the cycle path and take the same path you followed previously. Before you head around to the station at the first corner, go left along a narrow brick-walled alleyway, heading for Tesco supermarket. At the end, keep right until you emerge in a small housing estate. Now go left again and take the next street, again on the left. The zone is located just before you leave the area by a small footpath.
Now, zone Strawberries. This is one of those zones that’s plain awkward to fit into any zone-taking loop you might be following.
From Hardengreen zone, continue along the street to Bonnyrigg Road, then go right to the roundabout and take the fifth exit onto the B6392. The zone is in Strawberry Bank, about 150 meters along the road. This is also one of those hit-and-miss zones as far as GPS is concerned. Sometimes you can take the zone from the roadside kerb, on others, you have to go across the grass and down into the dip. For those in need of a call of nature, there’s a secluded area under the railway bridge.
WitchTakeoff requires us to back-track to the roundabout and return the same way we came from Hardengreen, along Bonnyrigg Road. However, you should take a right just before the Shorts garage and continue up the hill to the open grass area where the zone can be found. The clue to the zone name is in the street name, Broomhill Drive. From here, to reach our next zone, WishartPlace, there are three footpaths leading off in different directions. Take the one to the right, leading to Larkfield Road. When you hit the main road, go left for 70 meters and you will see a small lane on north side of the road. This will lead you straight to the zone. Note there are tree roots breaking through the path here.
Zone EskPath is next on our wee turf tour of Eskbank. Backtrack to the main road and go left towards Eskbank roundabout. Now, a wee shortcut. Opposite the shop Eskbank Trading, you can nip through the houses avoiding the roundabout. You will see an almost concealed path opposite. This will take you down to the old railway line where the zone is located. The path is popular with dog walkers and not all of them pick up their dog’s little, and some not so little, droppings. The railway line was the Dalkeith branch of the North British Railway.
For our last three zones we need to return to Eskbank roundabout and take the B703 Newbattle Road. An easy zoom down the hill will take you to the traffic lights. Across the road you will see a stone pillared entrance to a new housing estate. The zone Beatles is at the column with a unicorn sculpture on top. The entrance once led down to Newbattle Abbey. See if you can work out the zone name. The clues are the unicorn sculpture and the nearby street name.
Once you’ve working out Beatles zone name – pretty easy really – cross the road and follow the cycle path past the Police headquarters, zone BikeSlooowly is opposite the main building. Best behaviour here please, no wheelies, rear-wheel skids or riding on the grass! Our final zone for the day is CollegeZone, at Edinburgh College. An easy ride following the cycle path signs through the housing estate and across the road. The zone is just beside the smokers shelter at the entrance area to the college. And that’s all folks. We are now back at Eskbank railway station. Hope you enjoyed the ride.
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