Arthur's Seat, which unfortunately does not seem to have any connection with King Arthur, is one part of a long extinct volcano, the other parts being the Castle Rock and Calton Hill. The authors of my guidebook to this place call it 'the sleeping lion that has guarded the city from time immemorial'.
A wonderful area for walks, the mountain, which reaches the height of 251 m, is criss-crossed with paths of varying degrees of difficulty, so before you embark on a hike, it might be worth buying 'A Guide to Holyrood Park and Arthur's Seat' (2.95 GBP in 1999) by G.Wright, I.Adams and M.Scot. I got mine from the souvenir shop by the Palace of Holyroodhouse. But again I did not have the time to make full use of it. It did point out to me St. Margaret's Loch though, just past the palace, on the banks of which I took a rest after the lengthy walk along the Royal Mile and the visit to the palace. There were swans and ducks being fed on the lake and I could see the occasional hikers climb up Arthur's Seat, at the foot of which I was sitting. On the way, I saw St. Margaret's Well, dating from the late 15th century and up on the hill St. Anthony's Chapel with a walker or two going in that direction. If you have no time for a hike or just prefer a ride, you can drive around the rock along the Queen's Drive to get some great views.
The first two photographs by Izabela Szymanska, the rest my own
If you start your climb of Arthur's Seat from St. Margaret's Loch you will pass by the ruins of St. Anthony's Chapel, but otherwise you may see it in the distance from some of the other routes up the hill. St. Anthony's Chapel is the only building on Edinburgh;s Holyrood Park but not too much is known about it. From the 12th century the land in the area was owned by Holyrood Abbey and Kelso Abbey and it is thought that the land where the ruins are located was owned by Kelso Abbey at that time. Despite this, the ruined chapel had strong links with Holyrood Abbey as there was a well made stone track that linked the two. Experts know that the abbey was disused after the Reformation in 1560 but there are references from the Pope for granting repairs to the chapel in 1426 so it could have been built in the 1300's.
If you climb Arthur's Seat be sure to see the yellow flowered gorse that grows all over the hillsides. The best time to see the gorse is in spring but it can flower a little in late autumn and winter. Try and smell the gorse as they have a distinctive coconut scent. Some species of gorse bloom all year round and in the olden days the locals used to say "When gorse is out of blossom, kissing's out of fashion"
Once you have clambered up to the top of Arthur's Seat you will be well rewarded with a magnificent 360 degree view, and to help you there is a view dial (is that the correct word) right at the top which points out the hills and other points of interest. Do not worry,you will not be alone up there, and it will be o problem to find someone to take your photograph.
If you are in Edinburgh and the weather happens to be nice i can thoroughly recommend that you should try and climb Arthur's seat to see the spectacular view from the top. Of course you can see the city, but also the water of the Firth of Forth and the Fife Coast beyond. There are several routes which are displayed on maps at various locations but i chose the route from the car park near Holyrood House. I would allow two hours for the climb up and the descent which will also give you plenty time for photography and to enjoy the view at the top. There are warning signs not to stray from the path as the hill is an important breeding area for birds. You can make the climb wearing trainers but be careful as it can be a little slippery in wet weather. In some areas there are steps, other areas a nice bitumen path, and other areas just a grassy trail. A walking stick may be useful if you are elderly, not fit or not in good health. When i reached the top in June it was quite windy and a few drops of rain began to fall so bring a jacket, just in case the weather turns bad.
Please look at this website to select the best route that is suitable for you.
Arthur's Seat is part of an extinct volcano. The top is at 251 m elevation and overlooks Edinburgh. It is an one-hour trek to get there from the Scottish Parliament building, taking the trail past Hunters Bog. Actually the time depends on where you start, what route you take, and how many pictures you take along the way. My route up was via the Volunteer's Walk and Piper's Walk trails. My route back was similar but with excursions to Hunter's Bog and St. Margaret's Well. From the time stamps on my pictures, my trip up took 55 minutes and I took 51 pictures. My trip down took 57 minutes and I took 90 pictures. If you were driving and were able to park in the Hawse area, you would only have to do the steep Piper's Walk trail. The easiest route to Arthur's Seat is probably from the parking lot by Dunsapie Loch.
Whenever I am in Edinburgh I try and do this hill. 5 minutes from the city centre but when you are on it it's a world away from the cars, noise and pollution that comes with any city.
The views are exceptional and the history of the hill is also interesting. Definitely worth checking out.
Edinburgh is dominated by its hills, and the hill which dominates them all is Arthur's Seat. Like the smaller Castle Hill below it was also formed by volcanic activity, then later scythed by a glacier moving west to east. By legend its name comes from King Arthur, but there is little evidence for that theory or another which claims the name came from gaelic via "Archer's Seat". The rock is too high and barren for living, but there was a hill fort built upon it, and there's always been some human activity up there - if not the walkers then mysterious burials of 17 miniature wooden figures.
Arthur's Seat is the main peak of the group of hills which form most of Holyrood Park. The hill itself rises above the city to a height of 250m. It provides excellent panoramic views of the city.
Many claim that its name is derived from the myriad legends pertaining to King Arthur,
You can watch my 3 min 01 sec Video Edinburgh Arthur's Seat Hill out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
We lucked out when we made our day trip to Edinburgh from Scotland. The day started off cloudy and cool, but the clouds cleared in the afternoon and it got really warm out. Once we saw how beautiful the weather was, we decided we needed to make the trip to the top of Arthur's Seat, and we were so glad that we did! The views were breathtaking, and the walk itself wasn't actually that bad, even though I wasn't really wearing the best shoes for it. We spent some time up there taking in the views and just being thankful that we could enjoy this type of scenery while in a city!
If you make the trip to Edinburgh, make sure you make time for Arthur's Seat and if you can help it - save it for a sunny day! It's definitely worth it! The best part is, it costs you nothing except time! :)
If you want fresh air & exercise with wonderful views, hike up Arthur's Seat via Salisbury Crags.
We did it the first Sunday in January, and it took us 2 hours all in. Well worth it.
Make sure you dress for the weather (and check the weather forecast) and wear the right footwear. Hiking boots or shoes - not high heels, pumps or trainers.
Don't go up if it's icy or snow is predicted.
If it's a nice day you might want to walk up to the top of Arthur's Seat (which I did on a previous visit two and a half years ago) to get some nice views of the city and the surrounding countryside.
Arthur's Seat is an extinct volcano which looks like a mountain, even though it is only 250 meters (823 feet) above sea level. It is located in Holyrood Park, a 650 acre open area which is also sometimes known as Queen's Park because it is owned by the queen.
I took this photo from the St Leonards entrance to Holyrood Park, near the Royal Commonwealth Pool.
For some more photos, please see my Views of Edinburgh travelogue.