Edinburgh peaks: Arthur’s Seat

Start with the highest, work your way down, right? I was on my way to a vintage fair that turned out to be the next day, and on my roundabout way back home I first saw St Anthony’s chapel ruins behind a little loch and decided to climb it. I just saw the ruin peaking out on top of the hill, not knowing what it was until I got there and read the informative sign. The small chapel was built sometime in the early 15th century and now has only a small corner of the wall existing. It’s odd that it has survived the centuries and that nothing else was built in its place when it crumbled.

The ruins are in Holyrood Park, along the edge of it and behind St Margaret’s Loch, a manmade little lake. It’s a lovely spot and has great views over the town and the sea beyond on one side, and on the other a hard to resist view of the highest peak in the park, Arthur’s Seat. The loch had lots of birds, including swans, that sunday walkers were feeding.

The day was pretty perfect for hiking, actually. A cool wind, occasional sunny patches, not too hot. The path from the chapel ruin up to Arthur’s Seat was like a highway of hikers. My own bloody fault for making the trek on a whim on sunday of all days. Pick a weekday next time! Despite the other walkers it was a nice hike up. It did show rather sternly how out of shape I was. Sure I will walk for hours on flat ground but up a hill? Huffing and puffing before too long. At one point I was sitting on a convenient grassy ledge on the side of the hiking path when a girl walking a golden retriever walked by. The dog looked at me sitting there comfortably, walked a dozen more steps and sat down. This is where we sits.

Much of the path up wound its way across green slopes with fabulous views over the other high peaks in the park. Next time, now I only had the energy for the Seat. The very top of the peak was hard sharp rocks, all tumbled about. The peak, like Salisbury Crags and the Castle Hill are extinct volcanoes, and over 300 million years old. The peak apparently has some remnants of Iron Age hill forts, but I must have been too busy pretending I wasn’t out of breath to notice them. While there are several guesses as to the origins of the name for the peak, it has been thought of as one of the possible locations of Camelot, King Arthur’s castle. Absent of evidence to the contrary, that is what I choose to believe. I visited Camelot, y’all!

I sat up there for quite a while, watching the clouds and sun drag patterns across the peaks and valleys. I had a good view of the Palace of Holyrood from there and a few sunny moments to take a good photo. Alas, while there was a great view of town, the clouds didn’t part properly for a good shot of it. Well, gives me reason to climb up there another time. Note to self: look also for the hill fort remains. And wear better shoes.

As I hadn’t planned to go hiking up hills, I was wearing just a pair of flat soled sneakers. While the peak is fairly easily accessible, there is some rubble on part of the path and the rocks up top are quite slippery even on a dry day. Hiking shoes would be much preferred, but I did see a few girls going down in just flip flops!

More peaks to come in this series with Salisbury Crags, Calton Hill and the Castle Rock. For the last I will wait until the hoards of tourists and the viewing platforms have gone, though.

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