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Weekend Break: Edinburgh Parks (Arthur's Seat)
Arthur's Seat in Holyrood Park
If you have ever been to Edinburgh, Scotland you have likely seen Arthur's Seat. It's the large hill or dormant volcano that looms over the city of Edinburgh. There are a lot of things to do in the city, but if you are looking for an adventure I would recommend that you try to climb Arthur's Seat. It is a challenging hike that rewards you with incredible views of the city and the surrounding landscape.
Traveling to Arthur's Seat
Arthur's Seat is located in the center of the city and is easy to spot due to its massive size and height. If you are traveling by car you should be able to follow signs since most of the roads are well marked with directions to this popular location.
If you are walking to Arthur's seat from city center I suggest you walk down the Edinburgh Royal Mile. The Royal Mile begins at Edinburgh Castle and ends at the Queens Holyroodhouse Palace (see map). When you reach the palace head east and you'll see a park called Holyrood Park. Holyrood Park has a trail that will lead you to the Salisbury Crags and eventually to the summit of Arthur's Seat.
Preparing to Climb Arthur's Seat
Arthur's Seat is a manageable yet difficult hike. Prior to heading out for this hike you will want to pack a few items:
- Be sure to pack a large water bottle, there are no places to stop for water once you begin the hike.
- You will want to wear a good pair of hiking shoes. The trail is often times quite steep and rocky.
- A jacket is a good idea even on a warm day. The top of Arthur's Seat can be cold and windy. Keep in mind you'll have to carry it up, so it's up to you if you want to bring one.
- Lastly, I strongly suggest you bring a camera. During the hike you will witness some amazing views of the city of Edinburgh and the surrounding landscapes.
Climbing Arthur's Seat
I recommend that you start on the North side of Arthur's Seat near Holyroodhouse Palace. If you start there it will be a longer and more challenging walk, but you will get to see a lot more. When you start at Holyroodhouse Palace you will start by walking up a steep trail to the Salisbury Crags. The Salisbury Crags provide an excellent view of downtown Edinburgh including Edinburgh Castle on the hill. Below is a photo of the kind of view you can expect, notice the great view of the castle on the hill.
Once you are done admiring the view and have caught your breath from the steep hike to Salisbury Crags you can head over to the trail that leads to the summit of Arthur's Seat. The path to the summit is relatively short, but is incredibly steep and can be difficult for some. I wouldn't recommend this hike for young children or the elderly. The hike to the summit might be difficult, but it is a beautiful hike. Along the way you will want to stop and take a few photos of the amazing views. Below are a few photos I took on my walk from Salisbury Crags to the trail that heads up to the summit.
Terrain of Arthur's SeatClick thumbnail to view full-size
Walking to the Summit
The path to the summit of Arthur's seat is the most difficult portion of the hike. Much of the path has steps that you can climb. The steps are nice, but there are a lot of them to climb so if you are out of shape don't be afraid to take your time and enjoy the views.
As you get closer to the summit you will come to a grassy field that you will need to cut across. The last and final step of your journey is to climb a hill made of volcanic rock that has paths carved into it. The photo to the right shows what you can expect when you get there. Once you have successively scaled the volcanic rock you will be on the summit of Arthur's seat.
Easiest Route to Summit
If you are feeling less adventurous, but still want to capture the amazing views from the top of Arthur's Seat, I suggest you start on the east side at Dunsapie Lach (see map above). They have a car park there and two obvious trails that both lead to the summit. This walk is fairly easy and is much shorter than trying to tackle Arthur's Seat from the north. The only thing is you will miss the fantastic views from Salisbury Crags. However, if you don't want to climb the strenuous steps and steep trails, this is definitely the best route to go.
Walking to the Summit
Reaching the Summit of Arthur's Seat
Once you have reached the summit you will be standing 850 feet above the ground or 250.5 meters above the city which is like being on the 70th floor of a skyscraper. You'll find that the top will be fairly windy and quite a bit colder than it was at the ground level. If you are brave you can climb to the very top of the summit and lean against the cement marker that is located there.
Enjoy being at the top and snap a few photos, because it is going to be long walk down.