Gorebridge grew around the first gunpowder manufactory in Scotland at Stobs Mills (1794 - 1875). Using the power of the Gore Water, a tributary of the South Esk, it expanded to occupy nearly three quarters of a mile along the river bank during the Napoleonic Wars. The remains of some of the buildings, lades and weir can still be seen as you follow the path through the wood.
There were a number of small coal mines in the area but with the development of more powerful water pumps in the mid 19th century, Robert Dundas opened the much deeper Emily Pit, named after his wife, and the village expanded to house the miners. The railway was extended to allow the coal to be taken to the Edinburgh market more easily and tourists made weekend trips to the area. The remnants of these industries have left some amazing recreational areas for us, the view from the top of the Emily Bing is quite spectacular, while down in the valley, is the Gore Glen. Since the mines closed, the land has been reclaimed by nature to provide woodland walks by the river. A new Gorebridge Circular Walk has been developed which connects to other paths in the area.
The area is best known for its coal mines but at one time there was a huge water powered flax mill on the South Esk at Prestonholm. When it burned down in 1827, the New Statistical Account reports that '567 persons left the parish.'
The river meanders on to Dalhousie Castle, originally built in the 13th century, it was extended in the 15th and 17th centuries to provide a house for Lord Ramsay, the Earl of Dalhousie. Edward I spent a night there before going on to defeat William Wallace at Falkirk and Oliver Cromwell stayed at the castle in 1648. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert also visited. The castle was again altered in the 18th and 19th centuries but the top storey was badly damaged by fire in 1867. The castle has remained in the Ramsay family for 800 years although it was a boarding school before being converted into a hotel.
Nearby is Cockpen where the ruins of Cockpen Old Parish Church date from the 12th century and Cockpen New Parish Church, dating from 1818, is a landmark on the opposite side of the river with its tall tower and pinnacles.
Midlothian Council has have produced a series of leaflets of maps and information on Walks in Midlothian.