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How to Climb 'Arthur's Seat,' Edinburgh's Awesome Dormant Volcano

February 12, 2010 at 9:40 AM | by | ()

What activities do you typically think of when planning a trip to Scotland? Well, there's trying haggis, maybe flirting with the idea of buying a kilt, and perhaps enjoying some nice highland scenery. But when we went to Edinburgh recently, we looked out the window of the hotel only to see a looming, misty dormant volcano in the distance; this is "Arthur's Seat" and it was calling our name.

A quick visit to the wiki page on Arthur's Seat verified that it is easily climbable, so we set out for what would become a most exhilarating—and at times, most dangerous—hike. We cannot stress enough the importance of appropriate footwear!

After the jump, how to climb and what to see on Arthur's Seat

How to climb up:
Guidebooks recommend taking the path that goes up to the summit from Dunsapie Loch (see map in gallery), but we began near St. Margaret's Well and the Scottish Parliament building, because that's where the map sat. The whole area is Holyrood Park, and any local walking nearby will be happy to answer your questions.

From Parliament, we had a pleasant walk up—take the Volunteer's Walk past Hunter's Bog and eventually you'll hit the end go the Salisbury Crags, which makes for excellent pictures. Make a sharp left onto the Piper's Walk path, and you'll soon hit a decidedly upward path, that is a short and not-too-scary hike up to the summit.

At the summit:
At 251 meters high, the summit—which is the thing actually named Arthur's Seat—is rocky and uneven, and probably foggy with cloud cover. Nonetheless, the views to the ocean and all over the city are breathtaking, and you won't believe that it only took an hour's (two hours if you're moving really slowly) hike to walk up there. Take lots of serious landscape pictures, some funny ones of yourself, inhale deeply as the clouds roll around you, and prepare for a slippery walk down.

How to climb down:
If you've had an uneventful walk up, then we recommend taking that route down. Because we didn't, and instead we opted for an adventurous trip that has navigating 5' dropoffs and muddy inclines mostly on our butts. Once down to the ruins of St. Anthony's Chapel (pictured above), the ground evened out and we ended up watching the swans in St. Margaret's Loch. So don't follow our example without hiking boots on; take the way down that you took up, or follow the guidebooks and choose the route from Dunsapie Loch.

Along the paths, you'll encounter locals properly dressed for the climb, who might do it every other day for exercise. It's extremely accessible and a tempting adventure, and our entire mission up and down Arthur's Seat took only about 2-and-a-half hours in entirely inappropriate footwear.

Related Stories:
· It can be done! We booked a Ryanair Flight for Under $25 [Jaunted]
· Inside the First (and only) Hotel Missoni, In Edinburgh [HotelChatter]
· Edinburgh Travel [Jaunted]

[Photos: Jaunted]

Archived Comments:

Dormant Volcano

The view is awesome. Wonderful! Enjoyed seeing the pictures of such a peaceful area.

Edinburgh's Volcano

Who knew there was a volcano in Scotland

Stunning, but if you're lazy...

You can get a good one from Edinburgh Castle too.