Note that the Radical Road route is presently closed due to rock falls. August 2019.
As a regular visitor to Edinburgh, I have been eyeing up The Radical Road and Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park for some time. Because I lived in London for a good while, I have learned to embrace and appreciate urban walking, and how much it can contribute to living in a city. Much as I love and seek out wild places, for many city dwellers it is not always possible to get to them in the time available.
On a visit to Edinburgh this week, I more or less decided on the train that this was to be the time that I would climb the crags and Arthur’s Seat. I got off the train at Waverley and headed straight off down the Royal Mile to the Radical Road route up the crags, passing the parliament building by Enric Miralles, and grabbing an over priced bottle of water from the canny ice cream van parked at the base of the crags.
I started up the crag at a fairly sedate pace in order to take in the views of the city from a new angle. This is a busy path where you are accompanied by a cosmopolitan mixture of people from all over the world, and I was asked several times to take photos of people against the panoramic views beneath.
The gradual climb affords some great views across the city, with Dynamic Earth in the foreground and Calton Hill in the background on the horizon. It is not long before the noise and bustle of the city is replaced by the sound of the wind and birdsong, which gives you a sense of escape.
At the end of the crag track the path dips down before climbing up a zig zag path with carefully laid stone steps, over a final summit, and towards Arthur’s Seat. From the path the first views across the Firth of Forth towards the Fife coastline start to appear.
Once I had scrambled up the final rocky pinnacle to the windy summit cairn, I stopped to admire the great views in every direction, and to pick out the familiar landmarks of the city below seen from a new angle.
Once I had rested and taken in the view, I turned back and took the vertiginous clifftop path back to my starting point. Although this is not a wilderness walk, it is a unique feature which distinguishes Edinburgh from all other British cities. I am only sorry that it took me so long to complete.
Postscript: In September 2018 I moved to Edinburgh, so I am now lucky enough to be able walk to Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat whenever time and weather permit.
Arthur’s Seat is one of the 1218 Marilyn hills in Scotland and is 251 metres high.