Arthur's Seat is the place to go to have the best view of the city, of course you can also have a very pretty view from Edinburgh’s castle or from Calton Hill, but this one is by far my favourite.
The place is called the ‘Seat of Arthur’ because it is an extinct volcano overlooking the city from the top of its 250 meters (yes, it seems small, but please remember that we are by the sea) and it looks like a seat. The seat sits in a park in the middle of Edinburgh formed by the extinct volcano, three lakes, a chapel in ruins, some natural sources of drinking water and various trails, winding paths…this is Holyrood Park.
The location could not be better, at the end of the Royal Mile, and in the vicinity there are other important city attractions such as: the Holyrood Palace (official residence of the British Monarchy) and the Scottish Parliament.
Getting to the top is supposed to be pretty easy but, to be honest, I had to stop quite often to catch my breath and I was far from being the only one.
I was waiting for a nice clear sky to be able to make this walk and enjoy the view but, in order to find blue skies without finding massive winds in February is not easy. This seems to be the Sunday walk in Edinburgh because the place is packed on weekends and it seemed like we all had the same idea: it was difficult to find a place to sit at the top of the Seat!
We started the ride along Salisbury Crags which is the road which brings you closer to Arthur's Seat from the city centre and it is the side of the hill that we see most often from the city.
If you only want to climb to the top of Salisbury Crags you take the first path on the right - fortunately I was not alone, there is absolutely no indication and paths all around. After leaving the car, we continued to walk for quite some time and very quickly so I was very happy to have good walking shoes! The roads were indeed extremely muddy and quite slippery, we also saw several people falling on the descent, so I can only advise to have good shoes and not to venture in shoes, ballerina shoes or regular boots like a large number of tourists I noticed along the path. The path must be better in summer but the summit is rocky and suitable for sprains so another piece of advice while you're there is to take a drink with you. We had planned to buy a bottle of water before coming up but we forgot of course and it was very very hard during the climb. I regretted not having bought this bottle of water a good dozens of times and I quickly understood the usefulness of the small ice cream vendor who was at the start of the walk when it was too late to turn back and grab one.
made a first stop near the ruins of St. Anthony's Chapel, this gives us a nice view of Calton Hill and the Holyrood Palace.
And after a good hour of uphill climbing, we arrived to the top!
We could see Edinburgh’s castle and our neighbourhood at our feet, together with the Holyrood Palace, its park and a cemetery that I will have to visit one of these days.
Holyrood Park was founded many centuries ago by King James V. At that time the site was no more than a large hunting ground for British royalty. Over time, the park became public and nowadays it is open 24 hours a day.
The Historic Scotland association is responsible for the maintenance and safety of the park. Including, all the signage, the trails and everything that is related to the park is administered by them.
Basically, there are 3 trails that are suggested by Historic Scotland for visitors to enjoy the visit to the site. Normally, visitors to the park will begin their visit in front of the right side of Holyrood Palace, where the park is located. Across the street, there will be a sign indicating everything that is possible to see there. I suggest starting the trail by the stairs that lead to the beginning of the trail, going in the Old Town direction. The trail is all beaten up and just goes uphill. There at the top is where the best place to photograph all of Old Town and Calton Hill is. You can still see the Firth of Forth (that piece of the North Sea that invades the Scottish lands.) Continuing the trail as we go down we can see the basalt columns that are part of the Salisbury Crags. It’s a piece of history and an excellent playground, right in the middle of the city!