Four Seasons in One Day

Spring in Your Step
Page 2 of 5   |  
Holyrood Palace and the trailhead to Arthur's Seat (Corel)
Trail Tips
• The weather is liable to change suddenly, so bring cold- and wet-weather clothing just in case.
• Pack a picnic for lunch at the summit.

If it's one of those days—electric-blue sky animated by puffball clouds as they ride a boisterous wind—that greets you as you pull back your B&B curtains, leave room for only one activity today: Arthur's Seat.

Edinburgh's highest slab of volcanic rock, this 822-foot dormant peak broods like a maternal hump on the fringe of the city's southwestern shoulder, overseeing the lesser hillocks of tourist-bedecked Castle Rock (with the Royal Mile's tartan-clad tourist honeypots) and Corinthian-styled Calton Hill. It forms the central pivot of 650-acre Holyrood Park and is only a pumice stone's throw from the city center. The park is literally the back garden of Edinburgh's royal palace, Holyrood, found at the end of the Royal Mile, and can be entered via a number of access gates. Queen's Drive Gate is nearest to the Royal Mile and Holyrood.

The ascent of Arthur's Seat is strenuous, but not exhausting. Set off along the trail nearest to the Queen's Drive Gate (another popular, and shorter, trail departs from Dunsapie Loch on the eastern side of the park). It ascends gently at first before doglegging right through a narrowing gully. The trail then passes through muddy Hunter's Bog and steepens on its way to the craggy, cairn-topped summit, where a fantastic 360-degree view awaits. Look north across Edinburgh to the Firth of Forth, the rust-red skeleton of the Forth Road Bridge, and the Trossachs and Grampian mountain ranges rising in the hazy distance.

For those uninterested in such vertical endeavors, Holyrood Park still offers plenty of other strolls, delving through wild meadows, past lochs drenched with the klaxxon-call of Canadian geese, and along the sheer cliff face of Salisbury Crags—captured in a famous scene from the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire. All routes take you through a remarkable piece of wilderness close to the heart of the city.

Published: 12 May 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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