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Arthur’s Seat

The views from this old volcano are stunning, and not terribly hard to earn. But Arthur’s Seat does present challenges. Most notably the tricky combination of mud, craggy rock face and people. The sheer numbers of people ensure more mud, more slippery rock, more erosion.

The stream of people making their way up to the summit was fascinating to me. This was the off-season after all, but we passed hundreds of people making the pilgrimage. All manner of footwear went with them, from dress shoes to clogs to flat-soled boots that had no business stepping off pavement. But many wore hiking shoes too. You can tell a hiker by their assuredness on tricky ground and for the respect they give to the trail. Arthur’s Seat deserves more of that respect.

A worthwhile side trip on the hike is a visit to the ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel. You can also explore Salisbury Crags, which offers a bit more solitude than the popular summit hike. The views on a clear day make the summit hike worthwhile. On a rainy or foggy day St Anthony’s Chapel would still impress, and pairs well with a visit to the ruins of Holyrood Abbey. You’ll be tracing in the steps of those 16th century monks, but with more amenities.

Anyone with a good level of fitness can do this walk. I recommend packing a water bottle and extra patience if you go later than 10 AM. This is a hike best done early and with good weather. Heavy rain would make it treacherous in places if you aren’t property equipped. Respect for the trails are critical, if only to ensure Arthur’s Seat isn’t loved to death.

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