Melville High Drive

Melville High Drive is in the grounds of Melville castle, an impressive castle built in 1786 by the famous architect James Playfair. The pathway is shown on General Roy’s map of 1755 as a ride in a designed landscape leading to a folly at the western end. In view of its unusual alignment in relation to the castle, it is likely that the Drive follows the line of a pre-existing route (Fig 1). Remarkably, this pre-existing route may have been a 2,000-year-old road linking the Roman Fort at Elginhaugh with the Roman road on the eastern flank of the Pentlands! Later, Melville High Drive is depicted as a routeway on old maps in 1852 linking two main roads leading into Edinburgh, namely the predecessors of the A 768 and B 6392 (Fig. 2).

More recently, access to the route has been disputed. Locked gates and privacy notices were erected on part of the route in 1996/97, while Midlothian Council had confirmed its status as a Right of Way in a letter to the Lasswade and District Civic Society in October, 1995. Scotways took up the case in 2009 and have since asked the Council to deal with the problem. In 2012 the consultant’s report on the Esk Valley Way examined this history and suggested the North Esk Way should follow the line of Melville High Drive (Wood-Gee, 2012). It would be nice to reopen a 2,000-year-old walkway one day. In the meantime, the Esk Valley Trust has suggested there are alternative ways of walking between Lasswade and Eskbank, as outlined in the walking pamphlets.