11 September 2009

Sightseeing in Edinburgh: Arthur's Seat & Holyrood Park

The day before our excursion to Inverness and the Highlands (more on that later), I took what looks to be the first of several long strolls up Arthur's Seat and around Holyrood Park.

Arthur's Seat is the highest of a number of weathered old volcanoes dotting the cityscape (including the Castle Rock and Calton Hill).

It's also by far the wildest. Holyrood Park, which includes the royal palace of Holyroodhouse as well as the glens, mounds, and crags surrounding Arthur's Seat, is a surprisingly untamed little landscape--though it, like most hills, was overrun by Germans, even on a cool, blustery day.

From the couch in our living room, it takes about 40 minutes to reach the summit, if you take the direct route and don't stop for a break. I estimate it would take about an hour to go around and up the gentler east slope at a similarly brisk pace.

A view of the summit from the low glen to the southwest.
The peak isn't the only point of interest in the park, though. The flanks of Arthur's Seat are home to several scenic glens, three lochs, some dizzying cliffs, and even a ruined medieval chapel.
Looking down a glen towards St. Anthony's Chapel, with St. Margaret's Loch behind.

The view down the gentle eastern slope towards Duddingston Loch, with the Duddingston and Portobello neighborhoods in the background.

The obligatory heather, which I would see plenty more of in the following days . . .

A view towards the summit from St. Anthony's Chapel.

The ruins of St. Anthony's Chapel (15th century).


  1. OK, just to prove you have careful and loyal readers...where did the name Portobello come from?

    An inquiring Latin mind would like to know...

    You are in the Highlands, right?

  2. They probably just thought Portobello sounded better than Figgate Muir (Gaelic for 'cow's ditch').

    We were in the Highlands for the early part of last week. Edinburgh is considered part of the lowlands--despite its hills, it's actually one of the lowest, flattest places in Scotland.

  3. Just learned more about Portobello: according to Wikipedia, it takes its name from Portobello Road in London, which was named after Portobello Farm, which was named after Puerto Bello (aka Portobelo) in Panama to commemorate the town's capture by the British in the War of Jenkins' Ear.

    And I'm not actually making this up.