Climb Edinburgh’s Mountain

When I first moved to Edinburgh 12 years ago, I fell in love with the city’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 Arthur’s Seat. I couldn’t believe there was a real mountain right in the city centre!

Well, it may only be 251m in height, but Arthur’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 I’d often wander across to Holyrood Park and up Arthur’s Seat, coming down on the other side and making my way back home via breakfast in a café. I dragged plenty of visitors up there too, to show off the singular views over the Lothians, Fife and the Firth of Forth. I’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 I’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 Arthur’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?

Arthur's Seat. It's worth the effortSo it’s now time for us all to reclaim Arthur’s Seat, to remind ourselves what a unique position it holds in our city, and to appreciate the special quality it brings to the city’s landscape. It’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 Arthur’s Seat, and it shouldn’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 – or to take in the breath-taking views.

Arthur's Seat, an easy pathThe most gradual route (relatively speaking) is the one which starts on Queen’s Drive, by Holyrood Palace. Don’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 Anthony’s Chapel. Bear right at the chapel and then head up towards the summit. A steeper option starts further around Queen’s Drive, behind the Commonwealth Pool and the university’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, Arthur’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


2 thoughts on “Climb Edinburgh’s Mountain”

  1. There are several routes up Arthur’s Seat, and in the article I suggest starting from Queen’s Drive, Holyrood Park, near Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament building. Enjoy!

  2. Looks like a great vantage point to see Edinburgh. My friend just moved there to study at the University. When I visit, I’ll be sure to climb the mountain. What’s the easiest way to get to the trail?

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