Holyrood Hike

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.

Scot Parliament
Scottish Parliament by Enric Miralles

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.

Radical Rd View
View from the Radical Road

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.

View of Edinburgh
View of Edinburgh with Dynamic Earth in the foreground

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.

Firth of Forth
View across the Firth of Forth on the way to Arthur’s Seat

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.

Arthur's Seat
View back towards Arthur’s Seat

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.

MSP Offices
MSP Offices at the Scottish Parliament

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.

8 thoughts on “Holyrood Hike

  1. Nice pics Rose, especially like the one with Dynamic Earth and Calton Hill. I was in Edinburgh this week too and went up Calton Hill plus Blackford Hill out in the suburbs a bit. Really like the latter as you get an excellent view over the city but without the hordes of tourists.

    1. Hello and thanks for posting. I’ve never been to Blackford Hill so I will give it a try when I get a chance. Edinburgh is such a great city. They are so lucky to have all that green space in the heart of the city. Calton Hill can get busy but weekdays or mornings it is be quieter and there are very good views of the city from up there.

      1. I liked Blackford Hill because you are looking back on the city, castle, Arthur’s Seat etc. with the Pentland Hills not far behind you. It’s only a couple of miles south of the centre and an easy hike. Yes I took a quick walk up Calton Hill on Monday evening but it was busy with tourists, some of them glaring at me for daring to stand in the way of their shot! But yes, next time I might try earlier in the morning. It really is a gorgeous city, architecturally and setting wise.

        1. It is a lovely city with so much going on. Sorry I was on the move so I hadn’t read your post carefully enough but I hope you have a great time there

    1. Hi Tina and thanks for posting. So wonderful to have walks like that in a city like Edinburgh really. I’ll know not to take sandwiches when I go next time. Good wishes for 2017

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