Arthur's Seat from Holyrood

Arthur's Seat above Edinburgh

Arthur's Seat is situated quite literally in the centre of Scotland's capital city of Edinburgh. Arthur's Seat is the centrepiece of Holyrood Park, an area of outstanding geological interest created by a three hundred and fifty million year old extinct volcano system that was later shaped by glaciers. This is certainly a walk with a difference, instead of looking down on lush green countryside you will instead be getting a birds eye view of Britain's grandest and most beautiful city of Edinburgh. This walk starts from Holyrood Palace, rounds the impressive Salisbury Crags on the Radical Road then ascends Gutted Haddie to the summit. The descent before is a route along Long Row passing the picturesque ruins of St Anthony's Chapel and St Margaret's Loch. This is a unique walk indeed, its not often that on a city break you get to walk from your B&B or hotel and climb up 251M high volcanic mountains steeped in history and providing amazing views. If you have a few free hours in Edinburgh you would be mad not too!

Route Directions

  1. This walk starts from the car park behind Holyrood Palace on the Queens Drive at grid reference NT270737. The car park is pay and display. It has ample space most days but can get full on busier days. If the car park is full you could always park in one of the many city centre car parks and then walk to the start of the walk.
  2. To reach Holyrood Palace by foot head east along Cannongate, which is part of The Royal Mile route from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood. When you reach the roundabout at the end turn right passing The Queen's Gallery on the left and the Scottish Parliament Building on the right. Turn left at the next small roundabout then cross a zebra crossing over Queens Drive to reach the start of the Radical Road.
  3. To reach Holyrood Palace by car come off the A720 Edinburgh by-pass at Straiton Junction and turn north on the A701 to the City Centre. After 3.5 miles just after the shops turn right down East Preston Street following white signs for A7 to Galasheils and Hawick. At the junction at the end of the road turn right onto Dalkeith Road. After just a hundred metres turn left down Holyrood Road. Turn left at the next two small roundabouts then follow Queen's Drive round Salisbury Crags to the car park next to Holyrood Palace.
  4. From the car park cross the zebra crossing over the Queens Drive to reach the start of the Radical Road. The Radical Road is a wide track that ascends from the Queens Drive to the foot of the impressive Salisbury Crags. If you have difficulty finding the Radical Road there are maps on information boards by the car park.
  5. As the Radical Road gains height you can really start to appreciate the views over Edinburgh. To your right at the start of the ascent you will see the Dynamic Earth Science Centre and behind it the Scottish Parliament Buildings. Both modern and a complete contrast to the old Holyrood Abbey and Holyrood Palace.
  6. Continue ascending the Radical Road following it round the geologically impressive and imposing Salisbury Crags that tower over you on the left side. Salisbury Crags are over a hundred and fifty metres high in places. They are part of the original volcanic landscape that was later reshaped by glaciers.
  7. The communist looking housing blocks below the western side of the crag were built in the sixties when the old community of Dumbiedykes was demolished. Despite their utilitarian aesthetics these flats are actually surprisingly sought after due to there locality to the Old Town and their aspects of Salisbury Crags.
  8. The Radical Road reaches its high point as it rounds the far western end of Salisbury Crags. From here you can see many spires of churches, monuments, and cathedrals. The most prominent being the stunning fortress of Edinburgh Castle sitting high above the city on its own volcanic outcrop Castle Rock.
  9. Continue along the Radical Road now on a step descent. As the Radical Road descends you will spot your first view or Arthur's Seat up to your left. The Radical Road eventually reaches Queens Drive.
  10. Just before the Radical Road reaches Queens Drive turn left and head east to north east along a path for a hundred metres to reach the foot of the zig zag path up Gutted Haddie.
  11. Gutted Haddie is a direct route to Arthur's Seat that has been badly eroded over the years by walkers and the weather. The safer zig zag path to the right now avoids the the eroded gully. The path is steep but provides a quick and safe ascent.
  12. After the steep walk up the zig zags of Gutted Haddie follow the path round the shoulder of the hill. There are views across Duddingston Loch to as far as the distant Pentland Hills. Follow the path which turns left and heads north ascending to the 237m summit of Nether Hill.
  13. There are three summit on the Arthur's Seat massif. You should now be on the 237m summit of Nether Hill. To the north is the highest summit of Arthur's Seat at 251m above sea level. To the east is the 238m summit of Crow Hill, which if you have the time is well worth a visit, it is less crowded than the highest summit and has the remains of an old hill fort.
  14. Head north to the highest summit of Arthur's Seat. A short rocky scramble will get you to the highest point where and you will find an ordnance survey trig point pillar at the highest point and an interesting and informative topograph cairn close by.
  15. The views from the summit of Arthur's Seat are awesome. Edinburgh is in my own opinion the most beautiful city in Britain. The informative topograph cairn on the summit will help you clearly identify the distant and distinct features.
  16. To the north are The Ochils across the Firth of Forth. To the east the square chunk of Bass Rock can be seen out in the Firth of Forth and the triangular shaped hill of North Berwick Law along the coast. To the south the Pentland Hills dominate the view. To the west beyond Edinburgh the Forth Road Bridge & Forth Rail Bridge. On a clear days the views can include the high mountains of the Scottish Highlands to the north and west.
  17. Look north or seaward from the summit. To the left is the hill of Cat Nick above Salisbury Crags. To its right is the valley of Hunter's Bog. To its right is a small ridge with cliffs on its left side. This ridge which is directly North from Arthur's Seat summit is known as Long Row and will be your descent route.
  18. To descend from the summit head east for ten metres then north. Follow a short steep path north to reach the main path. Here head north on to the path along the crest of the Long Row ridge.
  19. Once you reach the end of Long Row the picturesque remains of St Anthony's Chapel come into view high above St Margaret's Loch to your right. St Anthony's Chapel was originally a slate roofed building with a tall tower. The origins and build date of the chapel remain unknown, though there are many theories.
  20. At the end of the ridge descend the path to the main path in the valley below then follow the obvious and wide track which turn left and heads west back to the Queens Drive and the start of the walk, passing St Margaret's Well.

Maps for this walk

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer 350 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 66 Map Click to buy AtoZ Edinburgh Street Atlas Click to buy Pathfinders Edinburgh, Pentlands & Lothians

GPS files for this walk

Route map of this walk

Photos & Trip Reports

Planning for a walk

Check the weather

The weather is a very important part of hill walking. Weather conditions and daylight hours will dictate where you walk, what gear you will need to carry, how far you walk, and may even decide if you go at all. The following links will help you gather information on weather conditions for areas of Britain...

Plan your journey

Planning your journey before you set off for your walk can save you vital hours on the day. You need to make sure you know the area surrounding your starting point as many factors can influence or change the place you park. Don't forget change for parking meters and fees.

Maintenance of your vehicle and being ready for breakdown situations when driving to remote areas is also vital. Pack a full spare petrol can in your boot, and take de-icing tools in winter, including a shovel. The Transport Direct website below is a great resource for anyone wanting to get to the start of their walk using public transport...

Pack the right gear

Carrying and wearing the right gear is essential for walkers to remain comfortable and safe while hill walking in Britain. However, the best gear in the world is of no use to anyone who doesn't know how to use and care for it. Knowing how to use your gear will give you a much more enjoyable experience. The following items are, in my opinion, the essential items to wear and carry for a hill walk in Britain. It would be foolish to head into the hills and mountains of Britain without these essential items and the knowledge of how to use them. Check out the gear section of this site for techniques and gear lists...

  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Rucksack
  • Warm Clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Map & Compass
  • Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food & Drink
  • Seasonal Gear

Know what to do in emergencies

It is good practise to tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. If you don't get in contact when you said you would on your return, and those you told can't get hold of you, at least they will be able to provide the search party with your general location.

Emergency equipment in the check list above means items such as a survival bag, whistle, and emergency food rations. This isn't anything special; any whistle will do, the orange emergency bags only costs a few pounds, and basic food rations can consist of a couple of chocolate bars. Carrying a head lamp is also an important component and a vital piece of kit used for signalling when you require rescuing.

You should always try and get out of a difficult or emergency situation using your own gear, knowledge and energy. If you cannot do this, then you should dial 999 and ask for the police. Use all the gear you have to keep any unwell or injured members of your party or yourself safe and warm, and use your signalling devices to let the rescuers know your whereabouts. To do this blow six good long blasts on your whistle, or flash six flashes of your torch. Stop for one minute. Repeat. Carry on with the whistle blasts until someone reaches you, and don't stop because you've heard a reply.

Never contact mountain rescue unless absolutely necessary, but on the other hand don't ever feel guilty for having to do so, especially if you are a prepared walker. The Mountain Rescue teams are full of fantastic like-minded souls who love nothing more than people who are prepared for being safe in the mountains.