Date: Wednesday 18th November 2015
Start Time: 11:00
Distance: 6 miles approximately
Never trust a weather forecast. Having gone from being on the verge of cancelling the walk as the forecast was dire, and then going ahead because the forecast had changed to be fine for the time we were due to start, twenty hardy Strollers turned up for the walk. The rain did eventually stop and blue sky appeared, just a tad later than the forecast suggested. It’s what waterproofs are for! Meeting at Musselburgh’s Fisherrow Harbour we made our way up for a brief look at Newhailes House, a National Trust Property gifted to them in 1997 by the Dalrymple Family. The original house dates from 1686, called Whitehill, but was extensively remodelled in the 18th Century and renamed as New Hailes. There are lots of things to see in the grounds but it was not a good day to loiter.
Colonel James Paterson, a local to Musselburgh, invented and patented in 1812 the first machine capable of tying knots for the manufacture of fishing nets. When he died his company was bought, along with the patents for the knot tying machines, by J. W. Stuart who established a new factory for the manufacture of fishing nets on the banks of the River Esk and expanded the business into a world leader with sales and repair facilities in North America, Europe and Australia. At its height Stuart’s mills employed over 800 people in cotton processing and rope manufacturing. Throughout the World, “Scotch Weave Nets” became the generic name for machine produced nets. The mill’s domination of the market faltered when newer man-made materials were introduced namely nylon and terylene (Dacron). They were late in adopting the stronger and cheaper materials, handing their competitors a considerable advantage, so the Esk Net Mills slowly declined.
We crossed the main road and then the Old ‘Roman Bridge’. Although the current bridge dates from the 16th Century it has been the site of many bridges before which have been used by the various armies invading Scotland. Continuing down the river, past the geese and swans, down Eskside West and the Category B listed Gazebo in Eskside West House dating from 1776, we made our way in the sunshine back to Musselburgh Harbour.
Thanks to Drew for organising an excellent and interesting walk on firm paths, great for this time of year. We are now looking forward to the lunch, where hopefully we won’t need waterproofs while inside, although a few years back we slipped and slithered in frozen snow down the street to the venue.