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United Kingdom: Arthur's Seat

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Arthur's Seat | United Kingdom | Europe

[Visited: October 2007]

When you walk out of Edinburgh city centre, you do not get a good view of Arthur's Seat. All you see is a high hill towering above its surroundings, exerting an irresistible call to be climbed. And indeed, climbing could not be easier. You can choose from several options; I chose to climb from Scottish Parliament. Passing Holyrood Castle, crossing the street took me to a steep climb up the western side of the hill, which gives the best views over the city. Indeed, the higher I got, the better the view became: not just the Parliament building, the Castle, Calton Hill, but also Edinburgh Castle, and further away: the Firth of Forth and hills in a distance.

Picture of Arthur's Seat (United Kingdom): Clouds over Arthur's Seat

As you turn away from the city, the path levels out. On your left hand side, steep cliffs, the Salisbury Crags, tower some fifty metres above you; where they end, you suddenly see a small valley and a higher peak behind. That is the actual Arthur's Seat summit, and can be reached by walking up stairs, stones, and a path leading up to the summit proper at 251m. A small stone marks the summit, and from here, you have superb views on all sides. The surprisingly rich character of the scenery here is striking: peaks, small lochs, ridges, cliffs and whin covering part of the landscape. It is hard to believe that you are in a city park (Holyrood Park), until you of course see Edinburgh Castle in a distance.

Picture of Arthur's Seat (United Kingdom): Salisbury Crags at the western side of Arthur's Seat with Edinburgh city in the background

Not surprisingly for its savage character, this area was formed by the under water explosion of a volcano more than 300 million years ago. Arthur's Seat saw early building of hill fortresses around 1400 years ago, but now not much more remains than ruins of later buildings. The name is said to refer to King Arthur, although some claim that it originates in Archer's Seat, as the site was supposedly an important point of city defence. In any case, the area now has become a popular hiking destination for those who want to escape the city but do not have time to venture far. At the same time, it offer Scottish nature in a nutshell: rugged hills, sweeping views, lochs, cliffs and clean air. When you descend into the city, it really feels like you have been in nature.

Picture of Arthur's Seat (United Kingdom): Steep cliffs of Salisbury Crags at Arthur's Seat
Picture of Arthur's Seat (United Kingdom): Salisbury Crags seen from a distance
Picture of Arthur's Seat (United Kingdom): Valley of Arthur's Seat
Picture of Arthur's Seat (United Kingdom): Summit of Arthur's Seat
Picture of Arthur's Seat (United Kingdom): Grey sky over the green slopes of Arthur's Seat
Picture of Arthur's Seat (United Kingdom): Anthony's Chapel ruins at Arthur's Seat
Picture of Arthur's Seat (United Kingdom): Arthur's Summit seen from a distance
Picture of Arthur's Seat (United Kingdom): Having a stroll at Arthur's Seat
Picture of Arthur's Seat (United Kingdom): Climbing Arthur's Seat can be steep: on the way to Salisbury Crags
Picture of Arthur's Seat (United Kingdom): View over the old city of Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat
Picture of Arthur's Seat (United Kingdom): View over Scottish Parliament and Calton Hill from Arthur's Seat

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