on August 18, 2006
If I had to name one sight that no visitor to Edinburgh should leave without seeing, this would be it. Arthur's Seat takes its name from King Arthur—most notably the legends that claimed he was a giant—and the hill fort that used to be situated there. Rising rather majestically from right in the heart of the city, this outcropping of extinct volcano sits in the midst of Holyrood Park in the southwest corner of the city centre. You can drive up to its base if you wish and wander around the greensward that surrounds it, but to fully appreciate it you really need to climb to the top. You can take the longer, gentler climb from Dunsapie Loch, but for a quicker route there's an established path that leads most of the way to the summit, starting at the point where Arthur's Seat meets the Crags. It winds around the side of the great hill and then rapidly gets steeper, set with big stone steps embedded in the earth. Once you get past this crude staircase, you're on a little plateau and the rocky peak rises to your right. This next part of the climb is less ordered but you'll know when you reach the top—two short stone pillars mark it out and the view unfolds all around you.It takes about half an hour to 45 minutes to get from the base all the way to the summit but - apart from strong, cold winds once you get there—it's very easy. You'll be out of breath by the time you get up there but it is well worth the effort. If it's icy do be careful on the early part of the climb as it can get very slippery and it'll be an unpleasant tumble down the hillside if you fall.The view is best appreciated at sunset or sunrise. If you're planning on doing this at sunrise, dress very warmly as it gets really cold up there, at any time of year. Similarly at sunset, be prepared for a dip in temperature fuelled by the (often very) strong winds. The view itself though is unrivalled in Edinburgh. There's a bit of everything, from the twinkling lights and sights of the city (if Hibs are playing you can hear the crowd cheering all the way from Easter Road) through the watery expanse of the Firth of Forth to the hills beyond in almost all directions. Unfortunately there's no disabled access, but with nothing resembling an entry fee, there's really no excuse to not do this if you're physically able to take it on. If you're fortunate enough to get the right kind of clouds at sunset you'll be treated to a truly breathtaking display.
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