Sunday, 27 March 2016

Arthur's Seat & Salisbury Crags

We were in Edinburgh this Easter weekend and a trip to the Scottish capital wouldn't be complete without a quick circuit of Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags, the towering hill that dominates the city. No GPS for this walk as you might imagine but some stunning photos thanks to the changeable weather on the day. It's only a short walk; around 3 miles in total - well worth a morning or afternoon out.
Arthur's Seat
Showers build from the south
View across Salisbury Crags from Gutted Haddie


We started out walk directly from our hotel which was located within the grounds of the university, close to Holyrood Park. Holyrood Park is a royal park which has a remarkable collection of highland scenery within its 650 acre area. We took a path that climbs steeply up from Gutted Haddie towards the southern slopes of Arthur's Seat.
Salisbury Crags with Edinburgh beyond
Rain approaches over the Pentland Hills
A huge shower lurks over the Firth of Forth
We had left in the morning under a beautiful blue sky but a monstrous pair of showers threatened to make it a wet morning out. Miraculously, they somehow missed us and left us unmolested as we made our way to the top. Arthur's Seat has a tremendous 360° view across Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth.
Sara surveys the city from below the summit
Arthur's Seat aheah
Unsurprisingly it was very busy on the top
The shower moves out to sea
So, what is Arthur's Seat?

At a height of 251m, it's a significant hill - the highest in Holyrood Park, described as "a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design". It was formed by an extinct volcano system of Carboniferous age (approximately 350 million years old), which was eroded by a glacier moving from west to east during the Quaternary (approximately the last two million years), exposing rocky crags to the west and leaving a tail of material swept to the east.

We headed north from Arthur's Seat, dropping down Long Row into Hunter's Bog, thankfully much dryer than its name suggests. Here begins the stunning sweep of Salisbury Crags, a dramatic cliff edge that provides the best views of the city. We were even treated to the sun coming out.
Whinny Hill
Edinburgh Castle dominates the city
Atop Salisbury Crags
Edinburgh Castle
Panorama of Edinburgh
Salisbury Crags, like Arthur's Seat, are the result of glacial erosion. Below the foot of the cliffs is a large and steep talus slope falling to the floor of Holyrood Park with a track known as the Radical Road running in the space between the two. This track was given its name after it was paved in the aftermath of the Radical War of 1820, using the labour of unemployed weavers from the west of Scotland at the suggestion of Walter Scott.

It has a magnificent view of the city and the last half of the crags offer the best views, especially looking back along them with the castle the centre of attention.

Salisbury Crags from Cat Nick
A feint rainbow emerges
Cat Nick
Arhur's Seat from Salisbury Crags
Cat Nick with Edinburgh Castle beyond
Hunter's Bog
Sara heads down to Gutted Haddie
The prominent slope of the crags is evident right along its length

Arthur's Seat
We concluded our short stroll at the point we started, where score of people were heading up the path we'd used earlier in the morning. I can see why Arthur's Seat is the top rated thing to see or do in Edinburgh, it certainly thinks it's more interesting than the castle. That and it doesn't cost £30 to go and see it. It's a perfect recreation of highland Scotland in miniature, slap bank in the heart of a cosmopolitan city and well worth a climb.
Salisbury Crags