If you are a fan of nature, this is a spectacular walk through the black volcanic rocks and, in spring, the ablaze prickly yellow gorse bushes which so dominate Scotland’s coastline. When you reach the pinnacle you will be rewarded with views of Edinburgh, the oceans and expanses to Furth and Fife. I am a nature girl and this hike was one of my favorite parts of my visit to Scotland. When I return, I will be sure to spend a day here, although on this occasion, I only got to explore it during my final morning in Edinburgh.
Arthur’s Seat is the name of the tallest of the three parts of Arthur’s Seat Volcano, an extinct volcano by the coastline of Edinburgh at the bottom on the Royal Mile, by Holyrood Palace. It is believed to be named after King Arthur of Merlin’s fame, but the real origin of the name is murky. One popular myth is the seat is actually the resting place of a menacing dragon who tired of his tirades on the people of Edinburgh and choose the top of this craig for eternal slumber. Historically maidens have washed their faces in its dew on May Day.
Literary Inspiration: Edinburgh is city of myths and you will see bits of Harry Potter abound. Arthur’s Seat is mentioned in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Sadly, I didn’t have a ton of time to spend on this hike, but luckily for me, there is a very short hike that you can take to get to the actual seat. The tough part was figuring out how to find it and we made a lot of mistakes trying to get there, so I will try to help you find it if you need to go up the short way.
If you are at the looking at the Palace, turn right and walk down the road. When you reach the large hill, turn left and take the paved path that heads up into the hills on your right. There is one sign up that path. There are many unmarked trails that will bring you up onto the volcano, but not to Arthur’s Seat. The walk from here is quite steep, with dirt and rocks at points, and will take at least half an hour. If you are not coming from the Palace or are not in good physical shape, have a taxi take you to the south entrance where your walk will be shorter and less steep. Here is a great website to find the best walk for you!
Although this hike can be done in a strenuous couple of hours, one could easily spend a wonderful day here exploring. If you have time to further explore, take the trails to the right when coming from the palace to explore more of Holyrood Park, including St. Anthony’s Chapel, ruins from the 14th century. I believe that the lower trail also gives better views of the Royal Mile.
If you are headed to Edinburgh, be sure to read 36 Hours in Edinburgh, Scotland.