Entranced by the lush cherry blossoms and legions of showy dogwood trees, I disregarded plumes of pollen and dodged incoming traffic to capture a few spring moments in our community. It was nice to take a break from travel photography, and to relax behind my camera seeing just what I want to see and not what I want to show. I have new respect for photographers now that I’m trying my hand at travel blogging. Usually when I go on a journey I’m with someone, (hello family!) and I feel guilty for holding a day of sightseeing hostage so I can stop every few minutes to figure out what lens to use. When we do wander around together, I try to alternate camera days, but invariably the days I don’t bring it with me interesting clouds are dotting the horizon and when I do, the atmosphere is as thick as pea soup. And then there’s the gear. I’ve seen some amazing equipment out there, lenses the size of toasters and I’ve come to realize that big isn’t always better. For me at least, travel photography is much easier with a couple of small lightweight fixed lenses, a 50 mm and a wide-angle. Like everything in life there is a balance, and in this case it’s finding the sweet spot between enjoying the moment and documenting it.
When we moved to our community 20 plus years ago, it was mainly rural, and most people didn’t recommend moving “so far” north of the city. Like many urban areas the boundaries between these areas collided and suddenly we’re a northern suburb of Atlanta. The downside of being almost urban is the increase in development, traffic and sadly the loss of a historic building or two. Still, it’s a lovely place to live in the best of both worlds, close to the city, with a touch of the countryside.
I never expected to use my photo session as a sort of historic tour of our area. It was interesting how my experience evolved into a greater appreciation for the beauty in the unexpected, and how happy I was to share what I saw through my lens.
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!
Tips for Climbing Arthur’s Seat:
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.
Bring your camera! (I always bring a plastic bag as a quick cover in case of unexpected rain.)
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!
Wear comfortable shoes. Hiking boots aren’t necessary, a good pair of running shoes or trainers are fine.
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.
The trails are marked and easy to follow, however, you can pick up a map from the Park Information Centre.
Work up an appetite? Try something healthy at the charming Hula’s Juice Bar at the bottom of Victoria Street in Old Town.