I Climbed Arthur’s Seat and All I Got Were These Amazing Views

On my second to last day in Edinburgh, I climbed the volcanic hills that loom over the city. Arthur’s Seat, the craggy bit at the very top, is maybe named for King Arthur, or is maybe a corruption of Gaelic for “Archer’s Seat,” but since I’ve scrambled up it, I think it’s maybe a rough translation of the heavy breathing noises you make when you reach the top: “ah…dur…hee.” It’s steep, y’all.

Panoramic Edinburgh

Panoramic Edinburgh

Arthur's Seat in Holyrood Park

Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park

There are several different paths to the top, and when I approached from the southwest, I was met with three of these. As in fairy tales, the paths seemed to offer clear choices: the first led downhill, away from the goal; the third went nearly straight up, via steep stairs; and the second sloped gently up, though the path was lined with thistles. My path was clearly the middle way, so up I went, encountering a few rocky stairs but mostly just a steady gravelly incline.

Taking the middle path

Taking the middle path

Going basically straight up

Going basically straight up

The final part of the ascent is rock scrambling, which is a lot of fun going up, and not any fun coming down. About thirty people milled around up there, taking selfies while taking care not to get too close to the edge (except for the guys wearing Men’s Fitness Test t-shirts, of course, who actively sought out the steepest route to descend by).

A scramble to the sunny peak

A scramble to the sunny peak

Wild heather on the hillside

Wild heather on the hillside

The whole city is spread out around you–there’s the Royal Mile with the castle at the end, the Ferris wheel by the train tracks, the Meadows, and over there, the North Sea, golf links, a few fields of grain. It was beautiful up there, and the wind only picked up as I started to head down, so I didn’t have to fight that on my climb.

Crow? Raven? Lovely black bird surveying her domain, anyway

Crow? Raven? Lovely black bird surveying her domain, anyway

View from the top

View from the top

I took tiny steps on the steeper part of the walk down, so that I wouldn’t put a foot wrong and twist my ankle or go tumbling. I chanted to myself, “step like a goat, like a delicate little goat,” which got me a few stares until I stopped saying it out loud.

Look, Ma, no worse ankle sprains than usual!

Look, Ma, no worse ankle sprains than usual!

I can't believe it didn't rain on me once the whole climb

I can’t believe it didn’t rain on me once the whole climb

I loved visiting the wilderness in the heart of the city, and I can see why Liz does it every time she comes to Edinburgh. It’s a little challenge, and a lot of reward.

Breathtaking

Breathtaking

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8 thoughts on “I Climbed Arthur’s Seat and All I Got Were These Amazing Views

  1. So awesome Lisa! I certainly didn’t get this view of the city on our visit, will have to do this next time! I can’t believe it didn’t rain on you either, awesome photos.

  2. I was with you in spirit all during your recital (since I have yet to do the climb – the descent is what has stopped me so far.) until I saw that you were wearing sandals. Yikes! You Crazy Woman! I am glad that you made it safely both ways, and that it was well worth it. I am impressed – HURRAY, Lisa!!!

    • Chacos are fancy walking sandals, though, so it wasn’t totally crazy. Actually, the only time I was bummed I was wearing them was walking through the thistle patch on the first part of the path.

  3. I’m thrilled to see a rare post of yours where I’ve “been there and done that.” 🙂 But I’m also thrilled by the vast majority of your posts where I’m putting yet another place or experience on my mental bucket list. Climbed Arthur’s Seat early in a Sine Nomine visit to Edinburgh to sing a week of services in St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral. I remember that late-July week starting out cold and cloudy but quickly turning into something like San Diego for the rest of the week.

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