register help
This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Arthur's Seat (Edinburgh-Scotland), WW

no permit
85 3 0
Guide 3 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List WW > Europe
4 of 5 by 2
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Loop 2.75 miles
Trailhead Elevation 150 feet
Elevation Gain 673 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.12
Interest Ruins, Historic & Peak
Backpack No
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
7  2019-07-08 Daytripper
49  2014-03-26 kingsnake
29  2011-07-15 chumley
Author chumley
author avatar Guides 75
Routes 667
Photos 13,172
Trips 1,417 map ( 10,542 miles )
Age 46 Male Gender
Location Tempe, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep → Any
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  10:55pm - 11:15am
Official Route
0 Alternative
Nearby Area Water
[ View More! ]
Culture Nearby
Scotch on the Rocks
by chumley

Likely In-Season!
Since this description is posted on "Hike Arizona" I will start by saying that Arthur's Seat is the equivalent of Camelback or Squaw Peak in Phoenix. Arthur's Seat is the highest peak in the urban Holyrood Park and features stunning vistas across this medieval city. Plenty of locals get a daily workout here, but it is also the default for any tourists who must get a little bit of exercise. And just as in Phoenix, there are plenty of tourists who make the attempt who have no business being out there. There are however, multiple routes of varying length, difficulty, and danger, providing the visitor options that best suit their skill and comfort levels.

Holyrood Park is largely unimproved. There are some short sections of paved trails and a chain rail on the climb approaching the summit, but most of the available hiking is on steep, rocky, and often slippery wet grass or mud (it rains a lot in Scotland!). Proper footwear is the key to making this hike safe and enjoyable.

Wiki doesn't seem to know for sure what the source of the name "Arthur's Seat" is, so I won't speculate too far, but there are possible references to King Arthur as well as some traditional Scottish Gaelic phrases. What seems to be quite certain is that the peak and surrounding landscape is the result of an extinct volcano from about 350 million years ago, which was eroded by glaciers in the past 2 million years.

There is historical evidence of human settlement in Edinburgh as early as the 6th century BC, and a castle existed in the city as early as the 1100s. There are visible remains of hill forts on Arthur's Seat and adjoining peaks which may date back as far as 600AD.

Near the beginning of the hike, the ruins of St. Anthony's Chapel stands on a point above St. Margaret's Loch. It was built in the early 1400s and only one of the original walls remains standing today.

From the trailhead at the carpark on Queen's Drive, the main paved trail heads slowly upwards toward St. Anthony's Chapel. Some visitors choose to ascend the "Radical Road" under the Salisbury Crags to the right, but that road was closed due to a rockslide the day I was there. There are multiple trails throughout Holyrood Park, though none of them is marked with any signage. The first heads to the right and up on top of the Salisbury Crags. In the loop I am describing, this is the trail that you will return on.

A major fork in the trail occurs next, with the right fork heading upwards into the Hunter's Bog, a peaceful valley with fewer visitors as views of the city are obstructed by the higher elevations which surround it. Stay to the left and head uphill toward the chapel ruins. Take the short spur trail to the left and out to the ruins before heading back to make the ascent. Here, the primarily used route is in the drainage, but I chose the less-traveled, and more scenic route along the what some maps refer to as "The Lang Rig" or "The Dasses" (a high ridge and cliff parallel to the drainage about 100m to the right of the main trail). The footing here would be difficult when wet as it was nothing more than nicely trampled grass.

The two parallel routes come together at a saddle between Arthur's Seat and Whinny Hill. Turn to the right and head up the final climb to the summit. Here the trail is jagged and rocky in places, while manmade stone steps assist in other areas. A chain rail has been erected to assist, though I felt there were other parts of the park which could have used such assistance much more than this section.

At the peak, take some time to enjoy the 360-degree views across the city, the surrounding countryside, the Firth of Forth, the Isle of May, and the North Sea.

The descent begins by heading south down the steep rut in the rocks toward Nether Hill. At the saddle you will find that visitors have erected numerous signs and formations using the many loose rocks available in the park. From here, the trail descends steeply down a marvelous trail, with numerous switchbacks, difficult footing and great views. (It might be called the Gutted Haddie on some maps). If you don't like heights or steep and narrow trails, choose another route to get down. But for me, this was a highlight of the hike. The bottom of the switchbacks ends at a junction of trails at the top of Hunter's Bog and the far end of the Salisbury Crags. From here you can return to the trailhead on one of three routes: the trail through Hunter's Bog, the "Radical Road" below Salisbury Crags, or along the top of the crags.

I chose to climb up and walk along the edge of the crags, stopping for more stunning views and photos over the city and back across Holyrood Park. As the trail descended back to the trailhead stay to the right and join up with the paved trail where you began the hike before turning left and returning to the trailhead at the carpark. It is possible to descend more directly to the carpark, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you are really an off-trail adventurer!

The distance and terrain allow this loop to be completed in less than an hour, but that doesn't allow time to stop and enjoy the views or take photographs. If it's your first time here, I would plan on a minimum of 3 hours to complete the loop in an enjoyable fashion.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2011-07-31 chumley
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Arthur's Seat (Edinburgh-Scotland)
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    GPS gave me a reading of 5.48 miles and 1346 AEG. Haz gave me a 5.04 miles, but no AEG, as it does not yet support Ordnance Survey maps. ;) So, figuring the AEG is most likely off, I rounded it down by the same percentage as the distance, .9197, to give a "true" 1238 AEG. Not that big a difference, but don't want to unfairly threaten imike's AEG totals. :D

    My extra distance on the hike is due to walking to & from our hotel on Bridge St. It was only a mile, and would result in more exercise, and maybe I would see some cool stuff in the Old Town, and besides no way was I driving in Scotland. Especially in those narrow streets. You really got to watch out, whether you are driving (for other drivers, or pedestrians suddenly jaywalking) or when you are walking (for drivers whipping around corners -- and remember: Always Look Right!). Also, difference in distance due to taking a slightly different route, once I actually got to the park.

    I started a little after 7:00 a.m., walking down Canongate, which is a continuation by another name of High St., but on the east side of Bridge St. It's called The Royal Mile as it ends at the roundabout in front of Holyrood Palace. Then it was a few hundred feet south on Horse Wynd, past the Scottish Parliament to Holyrood Park. This is when I discovered I had left my water behind. :doh: The Tesco Express-type shops -- think QT minus the gas pumps -- were not open at that hour, and no way was I wasting an hour round trip returning to the hotel, as we had Edinburgh Castle yet to do that day, so I soldiered on. It was cold, which helped keep water loss down, but on the other hand it was sunny. As sunny as it got our whole trip. Also, it was windy, which increases water loss. Or at least thirst.

    When I got to the park I discovered two things: 1) There is no "gents" (i.e. bathroom) in the parking area :scared: , or up in the park. The park's big enough, with enough bushes, that you should be able to find a private spot. Just careful of the pricklers. ;) And 2) Radical Rd. was closed off. (It is a path of broken pavement that passes below the Salisbury Crags on the way up to Arthurs Seat.) Must be common, as it was closed when Chumley was there three years ago.

    So, instead I headed east up the well-defined path to St. Anthony's Chapel. About two hundred yards before I got there, I diverted left, off path, in favor of scrambling up the small bluff. Easy stuff, but I didn't want to just stroll.

    After the chapel, rather than turn south along the path like Chumley did, I continued east, travelling from high point to high point along the ridge which forms the east border of the park's "bowl", Whinny Hill (see posted route). Eventually my route brought me to a point directly east of Arthurs Seat, just above the Dunsapie Loch car park. The climb up to the summit was moderately steep; no big deal.

    Awesome views from the summit! :y:

    After much picture and video taking, I headed south off Arthurs Seat to a saddle. I had noticed a crack in the cliff, and wondered if there might be a safe way down. Turns out there was a faint foot path and, though steep, it did not look dangerous, so over I went. Basically, my route down the crack parallels Chumley's switchbacks, but 75 yards north of the maintained trail. I only slipped twice; no damage. :D Got to the bottom, where the drainage meets Chumley's switchbacks, then headed up the Salisbury Crags.

    On the way I followed a dog, nimbly avoiding his attempt at a urinary diversion. : rambo : As I travelled north along the cliff, I saw guys hanging off the edge throwing knocking rocks off. I guess the maintenance crew explains the "Do Not Enter" at the base of Radical Rd. I followed the cliff northeast, and gradually downwards, and honestly that was the slipperiest part of the hike, as it was wet grass.

    Got to the bottom okay, headed north up Holyrood Gait, then west on Holyrood Rd. stopping at the first Tesco Express I saw to guzzle two quick Lucozades. :sweat: Cut through the St. John Street wynd back to Canongate, then uphill back to my hotel.


    Hike Video: ... autoplay=1

    p.s. I haven't heard anybody comment on my videos that I recall. Are they that awful? :D
    Arthur's Seat (Edinburgh-Scotland)
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Awesome day in Holyrood Park above Edinburgh. First of all, let's start with pronouncing Edinburgh ... it's definitely not a BURG! More like a borough/boro, but add a scottish accent and it's more like Edin-burrah, where the burrah is a single syllable sound that almost comes out simply as "bruh". Try not to sound like a tourist, ok?

    I had done some research and found lots of incomplete or contradictory information on this hike which is part of why I decided to put a detailed description here on HAZ. I hope people find it and it helps them enjoy their trip more.

    I was lucky to begin with in that the day was sunny and dry, but there are myriad options of trails to choose from, and it was a bit confusing to decide. In the end, I'm very happy with the route I chose, and I'd recommend it to any visitor. Check my GPS route to help see where I went. The only poor decision I made was that at the very end I descended straight down to the trailhead on a very steep drainage that was not really a trail and was a little bit hairy. It would have been easier to stick to the ridge and head back toward the lower section of paved trail that the hike began on.

    Typical of Scotland, as I approached the peak, a rain shower moved in along with some impressively strong and cold wind. Actually, it was quite miserable for about 15 minutes. I had my backpack and a rain jacket with me, so I just clothed up and layed down on a hillside to protect me from the wind. When the rain cleared, I could see another shower coming in from the south, and figured I only had an hour or so to get to the bar, uh, I mean hostel ;) . Despite the intermittent weather, the trail never got too wet, but I can easily see it being a muddy mess up here, which would make footing crazy.

    There's a lot of cliffs and steep drops, which is part of the beauty of the place, but it does require a bit of respect and thought as you go along. Especially if you are enjoying the vistas, it's easy to forget to watch where you are stepping.

    My only regret was that I didn't bring a snack and a beverage in my pack as it would have been nice to spend a half hour up there enjoying the view.

    Great City. Great Hike. Great day. Will definitely spend an afternoon here next time I visit.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From central Edinburgh, walk down the Miracle Mile (High Street) toward the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Palace. Turn right and walk past "Our Dynamic Earth," the palace and parliament buildings. There's a car park at the trailhead near the roundabout on Queen's Drive about 300m south of the palace if you are driving, though it's only a 10-minute walk from Edinburgh Castle, so a car is unnecessary unless you're coming from outside the city.
    page created by chumley on Jul 31 2011 9:31 am
    help comment issue

    end of page marker