One of the most pleasant walks in Midlothian is along the banks of Glencorse Reservoir in the Pentland Hills.
The beautiful scenery looks completely natural… Midlothian’s answer to the English Lake District. But appearances can be deceptive and that great body of water is, of course, artificial and relatively modern.
Glencorse Reservoir was designed by the great Scottish engineer Thomas Telford and was built between 1819 and 1822 to supply clean water to the city of Edinburgh.
The flooding of the valley resulted in the loss of several farms and also the remains of an ancient chapel called St Katherine’s-in-the-Hopes.
St Katherine’s is one of the lost treasures of Midlothian. The chapel was probably built in the late 12th century and it may have been a lonely outpost of Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh. However, there is also a legend that it came about as the result of a hunting wager between Sir William St Clair of Roslin and King Robert the Bruce in the early 1300s.
Supposedly, the two men were in the local area trying to track down a rare white deer or hind. The king staked his Pentland estate against the life of Sir William that he would be first to capture this marvellous beast. Sir William prayed to St Katherine for success and with the help of his trusty dogs Help and Hold he won the bet. In return for the saint’s blessing he built her a chapel on the spot where the deer was caught.
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