Today we decided to climb Arthur’s Seat. The last time we decided to do this, back in September last year we ended up not going all the way to the top and when we set off today certain of us weren’t sure that we would manage this time either.
But to give ourselves the maximum chance of reaching the summit we called in to the Hula Juice Bar in the Grassmarket to fuel up.
We’d been here for their excellent freshly-squeezed juices before but never for a meal, and lunch didn’t disappoint. Our salad and sandwich were very tasty and accompanied by a Pink Lady and a Ginger Jack (two kinds of juice). Since we had physical exertions ahead of us, and since it was Yana‘s birthday, we decided cakes were in order and a slice of banana bread and a thick tranche of chocolate cake were summarily dispatched.
We settled up and headed back out into the sun, walking up Candlemaker Row, along Chambers Street, then down Infirmary Street to the Cowgate and Holyrood Road. At the Scottish Parliament we turned into Holyrood Park and made our way along Queen’s Drive to the start of the path that climbs up Arthur’s Seat’s north flanks. Yana wasn’t sure at this point if she wanted to go all the way to the top so instead we started up the path which leads along the top of the Salisbury Crags, from where we had a good view of Arthur’s Seat itself.
Between the main peak of Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags is a wide, flat expanse of slightly boggy ground, and after deciding that she did actually want to attempt the summit we crossed over to a path on the other side. In the middle of this flat area is a small pool of water where we saw three herons watching for fish.
As the path gently climbed we turned around and our elevated position gave us our first view of the River Forth, Inchkeith and Fife to the north.
The path climbs to a shoulder between the south end of the Salisbury Crags and the steep sides of Arthur’s Seat itself.
As we paused to decide what to do next the sun came out and bathed the view in glorious light.
The sun evidently had some positive effect, or perhaps it was the Hula chocolate cake, as the decision to aim for the summit was made. From here there are a series of stone cut steps leading upwards.
The higher we rose the better the views became, with the sun’s rays streaming through the grey clouds hanging over the Southside of Edinburgh.
To the north-west however, looking over the Salisbury Crags, the sky was blue and the clouds white.
The blue skies were slightly deceptive however as there were gusts of around 50mph (80km/h) up at this height. We were now more or less level with the top of the Salisbury Crags which meant that we still had some way to go. In the panorama below you can see the summit of Arthur’s Seat to the right.
After a bit more climbing we left the last of the stone steps behind us as we reached the broad shoulder to the south of the summit. From here the views were even better, with the Forth Bridge just visible in the distance.
I think it’s quite unique to be able to climb a mountain in the middle of a city, and it certainly gives you a great overview of the place with a very different perspective to that seen at street level.
As well as views over the city the vista stretches north-east to North Berwick where the Law can be seen rising from the horizon.
After a relatively easy walk across the shoulder of the hill, all the time being buffeted by the blustery winds, and a scramble up a rocky path, we made it to the summit.
Amid rather challenging conditions an American tourist asked us if we’d like our photo taken, so we took her up on it. With the wind blowing hair all over the place and shooting into the sun it won’t win any awards, but at least it records that we got to the top.
Rather than return the same way we headed east off the summit to Dunsapie Loch, the surface of which was being whipped up into small waves by the wind, then walked north along the Queen’s Drive. By the time we reached the sports fields to the east of the Palace of Holyroodhouse the sun was starting to behind Edinburgh’s iconic skyline.
With a sense of achievement, and a growing hunger, we headed up the Royal Mile for home.