THIS year's Midlothian Doors Open Day is on Saturday September 8 — with visitors being encouraged to visit a wide variety of venues to find out more about the county's local history, industrial heritage, architecture and sustainable building design.
Doors Open Day is Scotland's contribution to the European Heritage Days project. Each September countries across Europe take part in this joint initiative when buildings that are not normally open to the public, or that usually charge for entry, open their doors to visitors for free.
This year, new attractions will include an evening bat walk at Crichton Castle and guided tours of Prestonhall and Orchard House, Rosewell.
Other Doors Open Day venues will include: Arniston House; Butterfly and Insect World; Cousland Smiddy; Crichton Collegiate Church; Dalkeith Fire Station; Dalkeith Masonic Lodge; Dalkeith Police Station; Fairfield House; Lasswade Church; Midlothian Snowsports Centre Chairlift; Newbattle Abbey College; Old Pentland Cemetery; Penicuik North Kirk; the Church of St David; St James the Less Episcopal Church; St John's and King's Park, St Mary's Episcopal and St Nicholas Buccleuch Churches; Soutra Aisle, the Watch Tower — and a behind the scenes tour of the Scottish Mining Museum.
A number of venues require advance booking and one of the three new venues — Prestonhall — has its tours already booked up.
Crichton Castle will be holding an evening bat walk for the first time this year. Built in the late 14th Century as the lordly residence of the Crichtons and later home to the Earls of Bothwell, this castle — which is currently in the care of Historic Scotland — is home to a variety of bats such as pipistrelle, brown long-eared, Natterer and Daubenton.
If you have ever visited Crichton Castle during the day you may only have been a few metres away from some of these interesting creatures that spend daylight hours hidden away but come out at night to hunt for flying insects.
Midlothian Council's biodiversity officer and a ranger will assist visitors in seeing and hearing the bats, with the use of special detectors.
Open day visitors should leave enough time to walk from the car park to reach the castle for 7.30pm.
Booking in advance is essential. Call the Midlothian Ranger Service on 01875 821990. There is disabled access to the tour; in some circumstances a car may be driven closer to the castle. Visitors with restricted mobility are asked to discuss arrangements when booking.
Sturdy footwear is recommended and a torch might be useful.
Orchard House in Rosewell is a model of energy conservation and will also be opening its doors for the first time.
The house lies within the walled garden of Whitehill House. It was designed a few years ago and is now both a family home and a bed and breakfast business.
Orchard House has a proactive policy towards energy conservation, recycling and sustainability and is aiming to achieve carbon neutral status. It has been insulated to the highest possible standard and double glazing is used throughout – with the exception of the stunning stained glass windows. Heating is by a natural gas condensing boiler and a multifuel stove, in which wind-blown timber from local woodlands is burned. Future plans include the introduction of geothermal heat pumps to further reduce carbon emissions.
Visitors can learn about the construction of this unusual house by taking a guided tour with the owner.
The house will be open from 10am to 4pm. Guided tours will take place on the hour between 10am and 3pm.
Pictured above is Arniston House and, below, a display from the Scottish Mining Museum at Newtongrange