Arthur’s Seat: Climbing Edinburgh’s Extinct Volcano

Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh

Arthur’s Seat sits at 251m in height and overlooks the new and old town of Edinburgh, including Edinburgh Castle! The hill is located down the south-east of the city, to the east of the Royal Mile and overlooking Holyrood Park. However, it boasts 360 degree views of the city.

Arthur’s Seat: A Fictional & Non-Fictional History

There are many myths and legends that surround the hill, but my favourite is the one that says the reason for the hill’s shape is that it’s actually a sleeping dragon.

According to the history books, there was a magical (and greedy) dragon that roamed the skies of Edinburgh. Locals lived in fear of the beast as it terrorised them and their livestock, eating everything in its path. However, its greediness was actually the reason for its demise. Its fully belly made it lazy, causing it to rest on a small peak on the city’s outskirts and never wake up again. Thus, the hill’s rock formation is believed to be the dragon still in a slumber.

A story that is much more truthful is that the hill is actually an extinct volcano. Around 350 million years ago, the volcano first erupted. After many glaciations eroded it, the formation you see today is what’s left as a result.

Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh

Why Climb Arthur’s Seat?

Now why would you want to climb Arthur’s Seat? Easy answer is that it’s doable for everyone (including kids).

I had really wanted to get outdoors more during the Summer so decided to try to ‘bag’ some munros. That way I could get outdoors while also keeping fit. Win win. But upon reading more, I decided to start with an easy hill-walk before trying something a bit more strenuous.

Earlier in the year, I had completed Conic Hill in Balmaha which wasn’t too difficult. So being a similar height, Arthur’s Seat was the obvious choice. With Loch Lomond at the bottom of Conic Hill, Edinburgh City Centre sits in the shadow of Arthurs Seat – so it would be a bit of a different view from the top.


Arthur’s Seat – The Walk

I was strategic in choosing a clear day to climb up Arthur’s Seat (which is few and far between in summer!).  I’m an early bird so we drove from Glasgow to Edinburgh to arrive around 9am for an early hike. However, everyone had had the same idea and Holyrood was busy!

We parked in the nearby NCP car park, and began our ascend to the top. We weren’t too sure what route to take or what was best so ended up taking what I think is the green route. It starts off easy across Holyrood Park, with the opportunity to stop off at the ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel for a photo. Very little is known about the chapel but historians date the building at circa 1300s or before.

St Anthony's Chapel, Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh

After merging back on to the main path again, it became a single dirt track up to the peak of Arthur’s seat. It was a generally easy climb, and not overly strenuous. There were plenty of families with kids on the trail, so I would say it’s a perfect walk for the young ones. Although a simple walk, I would recommend sensible shoes to combat the climb and paths peppered with knobbly stones.

Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh

Nearer the peak, the path started on a sharp rocky incline. It was easy enough for us with trainers, but I noticed a couple of parents having to help their kids up. It’s well worth it though for the views…

The View from Arthur’s Seat

View from Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh

View from Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh

Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh

Read about my hike up Conic Hill Here:

Conic Hill - Loch Lomond

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Hiking Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh

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