Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat

5.6 miles round trip from the Circus, via the Royal Mile and Holyrood Palace, a steep climb in places at 251m. October, overcast, with son and dog.

It is often said that Edinburgh, like Rome, is built on seven hills. It’s just as often argued that it isn’t, it is built on considerably more, and anyone walking the city would be likely to notice. But everyone will agree Arthur’s Seat is the highest. Unless you count the Pentland Hills, and are happy to concede Arthur’s Seat is a hill when technically it is a range of hills. Let’s say, at 251 metres, it’s a great big hill right in the middle of the city.

Not for the first time we decide to walk up it and bag the peak. Not for the first time I am reminded that I don’t like heights. We were staying in arty Stockbridge and decided to begin at Circus Lane, one of the cutest little cobbled streets in the city, and one of the most instagrammed. It certainly is gorgeous, even on a grey day in Autumn.

We head off up to Princes Street, and then to the Royal Mile: tourist central, with its bars, cafés and a thousand places to buy a tartan scarf. I spy Edinburgh rock so of course I have to buy some to eat at the top. It’s nothing like conventional rock, it’s like chalk and it’s amazingly sweet. Ideal.

As we reach Holyrood Palace, there are several demonstrations happening, just opposite is the Scottish Parliament building. Holyrood Palace is the official residence of the King when in Scotland. The more famous Balmoral is a holiday home. But our sights are set higher, on an extinct volcano that takes up most of Holyrood Park.

There are several ways up but of the two on this side one, the gentler Radical Road, was closed so no decisions had to be made. You can view the official map here. The start of the path is a good solid surface. You’ll need reasonable footwear, particularly when it has been raining as the path higher up is rocky and muddy in places. As it is busy, when you come this way just follow the others. If you find it strenuous, do as I do, stop regularly to take pictures.

The first fork to the left will take you up to the medieval ruin of St. Anthony’s Chapel, but the main path continues up up up. The path changes from decent to rocky to muddy to stepped as you make your way up the hill. The height is 251 metres but the prominence (height relative to the start) is less at 174 metres.

There are great panoramic views from up here, well worth the climb. You can see for miles beyond the city across the Firth of Forth. The last section is a rocky scramble, not difficult for average fitness, a bit of a nightmare if you don’t like heights, which I don’t so I can’t say this was enjoyable. Everyone else seemed to be having a lovely time, skipping from rock to rock with abandon, laughing and taking selfies. The achievement however was mine.

Nearly there

Peak bagged, obligatory trig photo taken, time to come down, but not before a ceremonial stick of Edinburgh rock, just as eye wateringly diabetes-inducing as I remembered.

It was my original intention to come down the opposite side, but the problem was we had passed a splendid looking bakehouse back on earth which looked good for lunch. Hunger sadly overrode our spirit of adventure and we came down the same way. When climbing mountains it is essential that you make good provision for life sustaining, energy replenishing snacks, and Mimi’s Little Bakehouse had plenty, and halloween spooktacular ones at that.

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More walks in this area

Walk info

You can find the Arthur’s Seat walk easily using any tourist map of Edinburgh, or google maps. Just head for Holyrood Palace, or head towards the giant thing that looks like an extinct volcano. There is a car park at the bottom, but if you are staying in the city, Edinburgh is not a big place, you can easily walk there.

5 responses to “Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat”

  1. Lovely city.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is. I’d like to hike the Pentland Hills too. I lived there for a few months many years ago but never got around to it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We very much want to do those too, hopefully the next time in the Borders!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely hike…and I worked up an appetite just following along. I can certainly see why Mimi’s was needed after the walking and climbing. Edinburgh Rock – had never heard of it before but I’m intrigued and may order some for future travels…either on-line or outside.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let me know what you think of it.

      Liked by 1 person

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