Hike Edinburgh's Holyrood Park to Arthur's Seat!

By Charleen - September 14, 2019

Holyrood Park
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

Hiking to the rock formation called Arthur's Seat is one of the best free activities in Edinburgh. Standing at the highest point in Edinburgh (822 ft), you feel like you are at the top of the world with views of the Royal Mile, gleaming Firth of Forth, rolling green hills, crags and lochs all around.
Looking east from Arthur's Seat 
At the end of the Royal Mile, which connects Edinburgh Castle on its rocky perch with the Palace of Holyroodhouse, lies a 640 acre Royal Park known also as Queen's Park or King's Park depending on the current monarch. It was created by King James V in 1541 to enclose a royal hunting estate dating back to the 12th century. Arthur's Seat was formed from tilting and erosion to reveal volcanic rock filling the Lion's Head and Lion's Haunch vents of a volcano active over 300 million years ago.  The park is open to the public and offers a majestic escape above the clamor of city life, melding rock or concrete with sky, green hills and water.
Looking down from Point B on map, below.
First view of summit from Point B on map, below.
For just 1¾ hours round trip, the hike to Arthur's Seat yielded fresh air, wildflowers and an expansive view of wild green hills surrounding the city of Edinburgh. It took my daughter and husband 43 minutes, and me 50 minutes, with breaks to rest and enjoy the emerging views, to get to the plateau on top. After about 20 minutes taking photos and enjoying the summit, the return trip down was 35 minutes. Several types of yellow flowers, complete with pollinators, and other striking wildflowers invited a closer look on the way back down.

View of Edinburgh Castle and the spire of The Hub (formerly Tolbooth Kirk) from Arthur's Seat
Wild foxglove
There are also multiple sites of historical interest, including a chapel for St. Anthony of Egypt and the view of the ancient family home of the Stuart kings that greeted Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745, which are highlighted in the self-guided tour brochure. And of course, wild waterfowl sightings, including the Mute Swans that were evicted as part of a legal dispute in 1688 (and which perhaps moved into the loch built by Queen Victoria's husband Albert 200 years later).
Map modified from Explore Holyrood Park
Ruins of St. Anthony's chapel from Point A on map
If you have a few hours to spare, a trek up to Arthur's Seat is highly recommended, even after a busy day touring Edinburgh Castle, Harry Potter-related sites, and the Golden Mile!  

Click here to learn about the Village of Dean in New Town, Makar's sausage and mash, macabre evening tales of Old Town, and a nice place to stay in Edinburgh.

Click here for Edinburgh Castle, Oink on "Diagon Alley, Grassmarket, Golden Mile, Cora Chocolate Cafe

Read about our two days driving to castles, palaces, abbeys and a neolithic henge.
Day 3. Dunfermline, Castle Campbell, Stirling Castle, Antonine Wall, Cairnpapple Hill
Day 4. Linlithgow, Rosslyn Chapel, St. Martin's Kirk, Angels with Bagpipes
Tracing J.K. Rowling's Edinburgh and the world of Harry Potter (Days 2 & 4).

Open Year Round
24 hours
Check here for Road Closures, often on Sundays
Administered by Historic Environment Scotland.

🐾 Historic Environment Scotland rangers offer tours in Holyrood Park, including myths and natural history. These tours are free, but may require advance reservations (click the link for more info)
🐾 Use appropriate footwear and bring reusable bottles with drinking water. There is some scrambling near the top where the trail is not well marked. We were comfortable in running shoes and Teva sandals on a sunny day in June.

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