Craigiehall Grotto

Written by  on August 16, 2020 
Craigiehall Grotto from across the river. The channel that would have carried water from the pool is visible to the right of the building.

An interesting little building, this one. It sits right on the north bank of the River Almond at Craigiehall, though during the summer months it’s hard to see it for all the trees. It was originally a bath house for the nearby mansion and, being built around the mid-18th century, it’s one of the oldest buildings I’ve explored. I’ve known about it for ages, but only now been able to explore the whole thing.

The top part of the building was once a circular room with a lot of windows giving panoramic views over the rapids below. It was probably used as a changing room, with a fireplace to warm bathers up after the cold water. Down underneath was the actual bath room containing a cold, deep plunge pool fed with water from the river.

The upper room is now in ruins. The roof (which was apparently thatched originally) and part of the south wall have gone. The entrance has been bricked up, but even for someone of my very limited climbing ability it’s not too hard to get up onto the remaining walls for a look.

The lower room, through a barred gate and down a flight of stone steps, is still intact. The two small windows don’t give much light so a torch is a must, especially since the deep (but now mostly empty) plunge pool is still there, with just a narrow slippery ledge along the side and a vaulted stone roof overhead.

The mechanism for filling the pool with river water is also still there at one end of the pool. I’m not sure whether this would have been the original one or not. It looks like some kind of screw device.

There’s also a smaller chamber at one side with a stone arched entrance. I’m not sure what this would have been for.

All in all, not the biggest or most exciting of buildings, but worth a look for the novelty and the remaining features, and to see inside a little piece of local history. I’ll close this entry with a picture of the lovely stone bridge (named after the grotto) that’s just outside.

Category : Mini explores

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