Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sightseeing - Arthur's Seat

Last week I decided to spend a couple of hours hill walking in Edinburgh. Since I had not been up Arthur's Seat before (last time I went up Salisbury Crags, right next to the Seat) I decided it was time. The weather was overcast, but no rain in the forecast, so I set out around noon for Holyrood Park. Robert Louis Stevenson, in Edinburgh Picturesque Notes, while standing atop Calton hill describes the area thusly:
Behind and overhead, lie the Queen's [Holyrood] Park, from Muschat's Cairn to Dumbiedykes, St. Margaret's Loch, and the long wall of Salisbury Crags: and thence, by knoll and rocky bulwark and precipitous slope, the eye rises to the top of Arthur's Seat, a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design.
This time, rather than take the rude stairs up to Salisbury Crags, I continued to the area where I had previously descended. Heading up here, I was able to cut across to St Anthony's Chapel, a ruined stone building dating from at least the 15th century. Its origins are obscure but it is believed to have been associated with nearby the Abbey of Holyrood.

St Anthony's Chapel

From there, I climbed a steep path up to the top of Arthur's seat. Or at least I thought I was taking a path--It started out looking very path-like, with gravel and everything but the farther along I got, the more convinced I was that it was simply an animal trail. It grew steeper and narrower and more overgrown with thorny gorse bushes with every step closer to the top. But I am nothing if not stubborn and I made it to the top without incident.

This is where I was headed
Gorse Bushes on the climb up Arthur's Seat.
I bet these really smart when they dry out!
Rocks, lichen and gorse looking down Arthur's Seat
A Crow that seems to make his home up here

Where I stood onArthur's Seat provided great views of Edinburgh, both to the north and to the east, an area of Edinburgh I don't usually see. After a respite, I started down again. I came down onto the Queen's Drive and headed back to the west along Duke's Walk. Soon I reached St. Margaret's Loch which sits below St. Anthony's Chapel. The Loch is home to a flock of varied waterbirds, innumerable ducks, geese and swans,  and is a very peaceful and scenic place to idle away some time.

St Margaret's Loch is fed by a little stream which seems to originate at nearby St. Margaret's Well. The well dates from Mediaeval times and was moved to its present location, stone by stone, in 1859 to allow for rail expansion. It is currently barred off so you cannot actually fetch water from it.

St. Margaret's Well
The interior of the well. Perhaps it's better not to drink the water...
After that, I made my way down to Prince's Street and did some Christmas Shopping and visited the German Christmas Market before returning home. Thus endeth another day sightseeing.

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