Hiking Arthur’s Seat

With a Fitbit strapped firmly to my wrist my husband and I tracked our second day in Edinburgh via steps, 23,000 total – 9,000 of which marked our hike to the top of Arthur’s Seat and back down again with a few detours along the way. The crown jewel of Holyrood Park in the form of an ancient volcano marks the highest point of the mountain at 251 M above sea level, giving incredible views of the city below and of the richly patterned countryside. I read that it was the most popular attraction in Edinburgh, and of course now I know why.  It’s a fun and moderate hike for both visitors and locals, and is completely void of typical tourist trappings. Here you get a true taste of the entire country, a microcosm of Scotland’s scenery, as the landscape within the former volcano includes crags, moorland, marshes, glens, lochs and fields. I fell in love with the wildflowers dotting the paths up and down the mountain and the tall bright green grasses swaying in the breeze. Even the soil was beautiful with its rich hues of reds and plums. My favorite part of the climb was the obvious destination, Arthur’s Seat, where there was a festival-like atmosphere of people from all over the world celebrating their mountain challenge and reach to the pinnacle. Strangers became friends here, lots of photo ops and smiles and an informal bond that forms when sharing a great moment. After all, we did just finish climbing a dormant volcano together!

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Tips for Climbing Arthur’s Seat:

  1. Depending on your fitness level you can make the climb to the top in 30 to 45 minutes, but allow extra time for exploring. We were in the park for almost 3 hours.
  2.  Bring your camera! (I always bring a plastic bag as a quick cover in case of unexpected rain.)
  3. Take along a bottle of water.  *One commenter noted that he “Ate bread and cheese with a good friend on top of this majestic wonder.”  I do like that sound of that!
  4. Wear comfortable shoes. Hiking boots aren’t necessary, a good pair of running shoes or trainers are fine.
  5. Within the park you can also visit St. Anthony’s Chapel – a 15th century medieval chapel, Salisbury Crags – a series of 150 foot cliff faces dominating Edinburgh’s skyline as well as Duddingston Loch – a fresh water loch rich in bird life.
  6. The trails are marked and easy to follow, however, you can pick up a map from the Park Information Centre.
  7. Work up an appetite? Try something healthy at the charming Hula’s Juice Bar at the bottom of Victoria Street in Old Town.

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68 Comments

  1. Ah, but you were one lucky lady, Elisa! 🙂 🙂 When I was there last September I didn’t get beyond Holyrood Palace (which was incredibly lovely 🙂 ) because Arthur’s Seat was swathed in dense fog. I only had a day and a half and I was meeting Jude the second one. It did turn out beautifully in the end and the Botanic Gardens were a treat. How long did you have (or are you still there? 🙂 )

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    1. I did feel lucky to be able to visit Edinburgh. My father’s side of the family is Scottish, so I felt right at home there. I loved the swiftly changing atmospheric conditions, but would not have enjoyed a foggy walk up that volcano! We were there for two and a half days and feel as though we barely scratched the surface. A return to that beautiful country is must…another “someday.” We didn’t have the time to tour the palace and would have loved to have seen it up close. Did you write a post on it? If so, I must check it out!

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  2. Looks like a nice hike. Of course, the real challenge to the top would be off-trail. Sometimes, the hike up on steps can be more of a workout than an off-trail hike. My only time in Scotland was at Holy Loch, for a few hours, in the previous life. It is a beautiful country.

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    1. I love the constantly shifting atmospheric conditions in Scotland, so moody….I’m about a quarter Scottish so I can relate. And actually most of the hike was on a path, I think the steps were in the beginning, kind of a warm up. It’s a vast place, I think it would take a couple of weeks to figure out all there is on that old volcano. Holy Loch, I read it was a submarine base. Must have been interesting!

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      1. I’ve read how Scotland has been described as being a moody place because of the always shifting weather conditions. But, I’ve always liked shifting weather – it keeps things interesting. Yes, Holy Loch was an interesting place. Always something going on.

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    1. Hi Brian! We were in Edinburgh in the fall, and the weather was really nice then. I think that time of year is the most reliable, unless you’re traveling to the Caribbean…which actually sounds nice about now. Take care and I hope your files have found their way back to your hard drive!

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      1. Yeah, Fall is much better for Europe. They are feezin’ right now. And thank you for the files, I’m working on it. At a reasonable pace, reorganizing files, to see what may have been lost. I already have an idea, and it may not be such a disaster, just a major bore. Are your kids still both far away?

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    1. Thank you, and yes it was perfect weather for a hike in beautiful Scotland. One commenter mentioned that he and a friend shared some cheese and a bottle of wine at the top…now that’s more my style!

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  3. Elisa, lovely to hear from you… IN my great computer meltdown I lost the names of all the lovely blogs I follow, and have had to piece them back in … and now you are here – or there.. Lovely post… hardly need to climb it now I’ve read your vivid account…

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  4. Your photos are lovely! I’m impressed that you’ve managed to avoid getting tons of tourists in the background too! Such a nice walk.

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  5. I live in Glasgow so I’m not far from Edinburgh.. my partner and I have been talking about going to walk Arthur’s Seat. Your pictures look great so I reckon we’ll visit very soon. We will make sure to take the cameras and more importantly.. the drone, I bet the views would be stunning from an all-round high in the sky view! Nice post 🙂

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