When I first moved to Edinburgh 12 years ago, I fell in love with the cityâ€™s ancient history, architecture and setting. It felt like a privilege to live in a place of such beauty, atmosphere and significance, and yet as a city it was still compact enough to get around by bicycle or on foot. But the most impressive thing in Edinburgh for me was Arthurâ€™s Seat. I couldnâ€™t believe there was a real mountain right in the city centre!
Well, it may only be 251m in height, but Arthurâ€™s Seat is full of character and offers a great experience for the many people who climb it each year. In my first few years in the city I was a regular visitor to the summit. I lived off London Road and on Sunday mornings Iâ€™d often wander across to Holyrood Park and up Arthurâ€™s Seat, coming down on the other side and making my way back home via breakfast in a cafÃ©. I dragged plenty of visitors up there too, to show off the singular views over the Lothians, Fife and the Firth of Forth. Iâ€™ve been up there on calm, hot days when a heat-haze shimmered over the city, on icy days when the snow sparkled on the rooftops below, and also on days when the wind has been so strong Iâ€™ve had to hang on to the summit Trig point to avoid being swept off my feet.
But then I moved further away from the city centre and my visits to Arthurâ€™s Seat stopped. A quick survey of my friends discovered that none of them has been up there for years, and others have never even been there once, despite living in Edinburgh for decades. Was it a case of familiarity breeding contempt?
So itâ€™s now time for us all to reclaim Arthurâ€™s Seat, to remind ourselves what a unique position it holds in our city, and to appreciate the special quality it brings to the cityâ€™s landscape. Itâ€™s not particularly high, nor is the route especially long or strenuous, but it does get the heart pumping on the steeper slopes and that must be good!
There are various routes up and down Arthurâ€™s Seat, and it shouldnâ€™t take more than 90 minutes to get up and down, although it does rather depend on how long you like to pause to catch your breath â€“ or to take in the breath-taking views.
The most gradual route (relatively speaking) is the one which starts on Queenâ€™s Drive, by Holyrood Palace. Donâ€™t make the mistake of heading to the right up the path to Salisbury Crags, but follow the path leading away from the city centre towards the ruins of St Anthonyâ€™s Chapel. Bear right at the chapel and then head up towards the summit. A steeper option starts further around Queenâ€™s Drive, behind the Commonwealth Pool and the universityâ€™s Pollock Halls, or you can even cheat and drive part way up the hill to Dunsapie Loch (not on Sundays) and start from there.
Whichever way you get up and down it, Arthurâ€™s Seat is a real treat, and should be treasured for bringing something of the mountain experience into the city centre.
You can find more information about organised local walks here