Speaking of hills, a very easily reachable summit from Glasgow would be Arthur’s Seat, situated right in Edinburgh an hour away. To be precise, there is a group of hills in Holyrood Park in Edinburgh, and Arthur’s Seat is the most well-known peak among them. I had been looking for the perfect opportunity to go, mostly considering weather and my availability. The opportunity finally presented itself at the end of September, so I was only too happy to embark on the journey to conquer my next summit – Arthur’s Seat.
Holyrood Park is accessible from the centre of Edinburgh via a 20-minute walk from Waverley train station to the beginning of the hiking trails. From the base of the hills, there were many paths that led up to Arthur’s Seat, but instead of taking the common route up from the front, I made a small detour to the back of the park and decided to ascend a random trail that was not as crowded as the main path. Up ahead in the above picture is Arthur’s Seat – still quite a bit of walking to do!
On the way up, I climbed a steep, rocky segment, all the while keeping the summit in front of me. I was going to follow a map, but figured that I’d reach Arthur’s Seat eventually as long as I didn’t stray from one of the trails that led to it. I passed by the ruins of St. Anthony’s Chapel and stopped for a quick rest before continuing on.
Up, up, and up! The magic of the hills never ceases to charm me! As I ascended one trail, many other walkers were going up and down from other paths. I think I could climb up to Arthur’s Seat ten times and take a different route every single time, and with Edinburgh so nearby, I might take up that challenge… 😉
Not at the summit yet, but here’s a quick look at the district of Leith (north Edinburgh) and the Firth of Forth from high up. Very different views compared with those from Conic Hill!
Aside from the views offered by high places, you can see some interesting scenarios from high up. A man at the intersection of many paths contemplates his choices: “Hmm, which way should I go?”
Almost there! I can see the summit so clearly and the tiny people standing on the peak are getting closer and closer every second, but very often the final segment of the climb is the most difficult because I’m sweating with fatigue. But the reward is near!
Finally, I reached the top! I didn’t need a “summit selfie” because (1) I’m not a fan of selfies anyway, and (2) there were already plenty of people taking summit selfies – I just needed a photo of them to show that I was at the top too, heh 😉 Yes, the final segment was extremely rocky, up to a point where everyone at the summit (and there were a lot of people that day thanks to the glorious weather!) could claim their own rocky spot and just sit and enjoy the panoramic scenery. Perhaps the largest rock was “Arthur’s” Seat but hey, I could easily name any other one…Annie’s Seat??!!
At 250 metres, Arthur’s Seat could be considered one of the easier hills to climb, though I’m not a hill-walking expert. I still need to find out the technical difference between “elevation” and “prominence” to be able to compare the different hills. I mean, Conic Hill was supposed to be around 350 metres but didn’t feel THAT much higher than Arthur’s Seat…? Gotta look into that.
Yep, as I mentioned earlier, I claimed my own little rock and sat down to enjoy the view. The worst mistake I made during the trip was forgetting to prepare water and food – I know, very amateur mistake that no one else would make! At least the breeze at the top made me feel wonderfully comfortable!
There were a series of hills scattered all over Holyrood Park, and of course I couldn’t explore them all, but I did go hill-hopping here and there, after reaching Arthur’s Seat. And here I gotta decide which way to take to go back down, and going down is always more difficult than climbing up…
Someone made a goofy face out of rocks, heh. I wanted to get down to where the face was, but never ended up finding a way there. I think I just kept taking random routes again and didn’t really know where I was going. Adventurous or careless? Now might be the time to think back on the experiences of Conic Hill and try to be smarter about finding a way down!
A look at another district of Edinburgh from a rather high place, though I don’t know what area this is. By now I was getting hungrier and hungrier and have already decided to dash to lunch as soon as I got back to Edinburgh!
As I descended (it was around half past noon), many people were just beginning their climb up to Arthur’s Seat. I think I did end up taking a random path down again instead of taking one of the “main” trails that everyone followed, but I was more confident this time because the trails in Holyrood Park were definitely easier to handle than those on Conic Hill. No muddy patches or risk of slipping into sheep poop, thankfully!
As expected, there wasn’t anyone else around the trail that I took downwards, but I did follow traces of steps that were left behind by people who have taken the path before, so I knew I would be safe.
A final look at the downward path that I took, now hiding the summit completely, as if Arthur’s Seat never existed in the first place. I think I will definitely be back to climb the summit again though, since Edinburgh is just so accessible and the trails are so gentle – it almost felt like a leisurely stroll. And that challenge about taking a different route every time? I would be up for that, only if I could remember which trail I took every time, hah!
As far as hills go, this is one that was easily conquered. Got some more interesting ones on my list, if I could find a way to get there without a car – Tinto, King’s Seat, Dumyat, Mendick, Moncreiffe…which one will be next???