Edinburgh – Hike up Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat is the highest peak of a set of hills formed by an extinct 2000-year-old volcano set in Holyrood Park. It’s 251 metres above sea level and provides a great view of Edinburgh City. That’s what I Wikipedia-ed.

When I heard about Arthur’s seat, I just assumed it was shaped somewhat like the throne for a king. But that’s my imagination and google images prove otherwise.

arthurs-seat

Hailing from 1 degree off the equator, the thought of going for a hike in winter excited me a great deal, and reminded me of the children’s book I used to read to my students ‘We’re going on a bear hunt‘.

The weather had not been ideal the past few days. In fact, when we arrived in Edinburgh, we were welcome by the wonderfully cold rain (it should have been snow, I’m still a little sore about that). So the last thought I had before I fell asleep was ‘I hope it’s sunny tomorrow.’ 😅

251 metres isn’t exactly very high up and that ignorant fool in me thought, “I’ve climbed hills twice that height.” I had no idea how wrong I was. LOL. Our Airbnb hosts did warn us that it is windier than it looks up there, but we had no idea how windy and we thought we knew ‘windy‘ until windy struck. It was WINDY.Gale force, blow-you-off-course kind of windy. Okay, I exaggerate but it was really hard to stay on the slippery, muddy trail. There was a bird that was stuck because it couldn’t take flight against the wind. That poor thing kept getting swept off course and landing on the same spot! 😳

It was a steep ascend, okay steep-ish ascend, and despite the wind in our faces in winter, we started to sweat. I couldn’t decide whether I was feeling hot or cold. So I took off my outer coat but left my beanie on. It was a confusing feeling for someone from the tropics, really.

halfway-arthurs-seat
The wind was strong, look at how it was lifting up my beanie.

But my goodness. It was beautiful! It was already beautiful from afar, but it was amazing to be on it! Maybe it’s because we’re city kids but the grass, the wind, the air, the sunshine, and the M&S cookies, made it such an experience. We didn’t really want to get off Arthur’s Seat.

top-of-arthurs-seat

Then, guess what? We found the easy trail. There was an easy, non-slippery, geriatric-friendly trail. On the other side. 😑 So, more photos were taken, grass angels were made and more cookies were eaten. We stayed and played till it was almost time for the sun to set, which was about 1600 hrs in winter. It wasn’t long enough.

aurthurs-seat-jumpshot

arthurs-seat-piggyback

You won’t need professional hiking gear or trekking poles to get up there. Just any old pair of shoes with enough grip, some snacks and a thermos of your favourite drink. Forget the picnic mat since it’ll fly away – the grass would do nicely! Here’s our approach to getting up Arthur’s Peak. **It isn’t the most recommended method to getting anywhere but we couldn’t be bothered about planning and stuff.

  1. Get to Holyrood Park
    Tripadvisor recommends that you start at the bottom of the Royal Mile or take any Lothian bus (no. 2, 14, 30, 33 and 48) to the Royal Commonwealth Pool where you can walk towards Holyrood Park. We did the latter.
  2. Identify Arthur’s Peak – the highest one
  3. Walk haphazardously upwards, keeping your focus on the peak (45 minutes, give or take)
    If you want the easier way up, walk along the Queen’s drive to Dunsapie Loch (a gorgeous man-made lake) and head all the way up the grassy slopes. This was the route we found on the way down.
    For other available routes and more detailed directions, check these sites: Geowalks | The Guardian | Walk Highlands

 

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We found Dunsapie Loch on the way down

 

salisbury-crags

I’d also recommend the longer trail that takes you from Salisbury Crags to Arthur’s Peak. We didn’t plan for enough time, but now that you’re more informed, you’ll probably do better than us.

Happy Monday, plan for a hike this weekend wherever you are!

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