Saturday, 29 March 2014

Edinburgh's own urban mountain

Another free morning in Edinburgh - this time due to a cancelled meeting. I decide to walk to the top of Arthur's Seat, the extinct volcano that sits above Holyrood Palace. It is a spectacular feature of Edinburgh - a huge lump of rock surrounded by the city and its suburbs on all sides. Arthur's Seat forms the centrepiece of 260-hectare Holyrood Park

Below: setting off from the Palace, the path is remarkably park-like. But appearances are deceptive - to reach the summit from the western side, scrambling (using hands on cold, wet rock, as well as feet) is required. The asphalt path soon gives way to mountain track.

Below: the views from the top are hugely rewarding, the summit of Arthur's Seat is a must-visit attraction for tourists. Allow around three hours to get to the top from the city centre and back again, though check the weather forecast first, wear appropriate clothing and eat a hearty breakfast.

Below: looking down on Calton Hill, the Observatory (frae hereaboots, I canna nae observe a Tory), National Monument and Nelson Monument. This is the reverse angle shot of the last photo shown in the previous post - looking up at Arthur's Seat from Calton Hill.

Having a 250m mountain poking out of one's city just begs for it to be used for sporting purposes. Apart from the many walkers, joggers and rock-climbers I saw, this chap on a downhill mountain bike setting off from the summit deserves a snap.

Below: the sides of Arthur's Seat are covered in gorse (or furze, or in Scotland - whin). It is rarely out of flower and looks particularly good at this time of year.

Below: looking down on Edinburgh, the Castle in the middle distance, the Firth of Forth and the port of Leith awa' to the right.

Below: a general view from the triangulation point atop the very summit of Arthur's Seat. It was very windy up here. As can be seen, a popular destination for walkers. I can imagine a trip up here can get quite life-threateningly dangerous if one is inadequately dressed and comes up in misty or icy weather; without the right footwear the rocky paths are slippery and it's a long way down.

Below: my descent was more difficult as I followed the path less trodden; this was scrambling territory - my hands grasped for cold, hard rock as I placed my feet onto secure footholds before letting myself down. Not too difficult in these conditions, but not something to do on a misty, icy night in slippery-soled shoes.

In the photo above, Edinburgh University's Pollock Hall is visible on the left-hand edge. I stayed there in June 2012, check this post (last pic) to see how close Arthur's Seat is and how it looks in the mist.

The mountain is quite spectacular when viewed from the city's Southside. Below: looking east along Lutton Place. If you look closely at the summit of Arthur's Seat, you can see people up there. That was me, some 40 minutes earlier!

This time last year:

This time two years ago:
A wee taste of Edinburgh

This time four years ago:
First long bike ride of the season

This time five years ago:
Life returns to Jeziorki

This time six years ago:
Early spring dusk

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